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Coronation anthem displays Handel’s unmatched theatricality

Baroque music expert available on King Charles coronation

News outlets seeking sources on King Charles coronation are invited to speak with Baroque music expert Stephen Alltop about the ceremonial anthem.

“Handel's Coronation Anthem “Zadok the Priest” was composed for the 1727 coronation of King George II and has been performed for the coronations of all British monarchs since that time. In “Zadok,” Handel displays not only his unmatched sense of theatricality, but also a wise understanding of the grandeur and space of Westminster Abbey. The long, slow buildup of undulating chords over 20 measures fill the cavernous space of the Abbey while remaining clear in its resonant acoustics," Alltop said. 

“The text depicts the biblical scene in which Solomon is anointed as king by his priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan. Solomon's coronation sparks the exultant words "God save the King! Long live the King! God save the King! May the King live forever. Amen. Hallelujah." In conveying the sense of exultation, Handel shows his marvelous ability to enrapture his listeners with energetic and joyous music, supported by the majestic sounds of a full baroque orchestra led by three trumpets and timpani.”   

Alltop is a senior lecturer at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, where he teaches conducting, harpsichord and oratorio. He is director of music for the Alice Millar Chapel, conductor of the Baroque Music Ensemble and co-director of Bienen School’s annual Dunbar Memorial Early Music Festival. This year’s festival (May 21-28) will celebrate the music of George Frideric Handel.  

He can be reached at or by contacting Stephanie Kulke at 847-491-4819.