Handel’s “Haec est Regina Virginum,” Anne Sofie von Otter

In the years before his arrival in London, the young George Frideric Handel was based in Italy. Settling in Rome, Handel, a native of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, composed cantatas and oratorios for the city’s most wealthy and powerful Cardinals. Additionally, commissions poured in from Florence, Venice, and Naples.

It was during this time that Handel composed Haec est Regina virginum, HWV 235 (“Behold the Queen of Virgins”). The antiphon may have been written in 1707 and included in a Vespers service in Rome. The stately ritornello (the recurring instrumental tutti) appears to have provided the seed for the famous Air Handel composed years later for the Water Music. The antiphon is a serene and sensuous prayer to the Virgin Mary. Here is a translation of the text:

Behold the Queen of virgins,
Who, like a beautiful rose, gave birth to the King.
Virgin mother of God, through whom we reach both God
And man, please intercede on our behalf.

Here is Anne Sofie von Otter’s 1994 recording with Reinhard Goebel and Musica Antiqua Köln:

Recordings

  • Handel: Haec est Regina virginum, HWV 235, Anne Sofie von Otter, Reinhard Goebel, Musica Antiqua Köln Amazon

Featured Image: the cloister at Rome’s Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano where Handel played the organ in 1707

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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