For years I was taught a story that always sounded so super-human as to be questionable. Wonder if others have "drunk the kool-aid" on this as well - Handel began composing the Messiah on August 22 in his little house on Brook Street in London. He grew so absorbed in the work that he rarely left his room, hardly stopping to eat. Within six days part one was complete. In nine days more he had finished part two, and in another six, part three. The orchestration was completed in another two days. In all 260 pages of manuscript were filled in the remarkable short time of 24 days. Handel never left his house for those three weeks. Last Sunday I heard a duetto da camera in the Italian tradition established late in the seventeenth century by Scarlatti. Bawdy Italian poetry (No, I do not want to trust you, blind Love, cruel Beauty; you lie too much - forgive my rough translation) didn't seem like Handel. But the melody was unmistakable - "For Unto Us a Child is Born". Got me searching and found that Handel's "miraculous" writing of the Messiah was a fascinating case of self-borrowing, involving much re-composition besides re-texting in a different language and re-scoring on a grand scale. From these earlier works of Handel we see original versions of pieces later modified and inserted into the Oratorio we love. These were all written in the year BEFORE the Messiah and only revised for his "new" work. “For unto us a child is born” from inner theme of No, di Voi non vo' fidarmi [*]“His yoke is easy” from Quel fior che all’alba ride [*]“O Death, where is thy sting?” from Se tu non lasci amore" [*]“And He shall purify” from Quel fior che all’alba ride [*]"Hallelujah” chorus from the motif for So per prova [*]“All we like sheep have gone astray” from the outer movements of No, di Voi non vo' fidarmi (These are the six I've seen so far; there are more) Will continue to research this but a lot of the texts are in Italian and German. Grrrr. That Handel was a great composer and the Messiah one of my personal favorites is not questioned. But that he just "locked himself in a room and came up with 53 unique pieces of music" might be a tad hyperbolic.