Conducted by Peter Dijkstra, the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, and Groot Omroepkoor performs Georg Friedrich Händel‘s Solomon, HWV 67, an oratorio composed in 1748 and first performed in 1749. This performance was recorded during an AVROTROS Friday Concert on February 4, 2022, at the TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Conducted by Peter Dijkstra, the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, and Groot Omroepkoor performs Georg Friedrich Händel’s Solomon, HWV 67, an oratorio composed in 1748 and first performed in 1749. This performance was recorded during an AVROTROS Friday Concert on February 4, 2022, at the TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht, The Netherlands.


  • Maarten Engeltjes, countertenor (Solomon)
  • Shira Patchornik, soprano (Solomon’s Queen, Second harlot)
  • Marie Lys, soprano (Queen of Sheba, First harlot)
  • Fabio Trümpy, tenor (Zadok, Attendant)
  • Ashley Riches, bass (A Levite)

Georg Friedrich Händel’s Solomon, HWV 67

George Frideric Händel’s oratorio “Solomon” is one of his most celebrated and majestic works, composed in 1748 and first performed in 1749. This oratorio stands out in Händel’s repertoire not only for its lush orchestration and intricate choral arrangements but also for its rich portrayal of the biblical King Solomon, known for his wisdom, wealth, and building projects, including the First Temple in Jerusalem.

“Solomon” is structured as a series of three large parts, each highlighting different aspects of Solomon’s reign and wisdom, though you’ve requested to avoid details of the acts for now. The libretto, traditionally attributed to Newburgh Hamilton, is drawn from the biblical books of Kings and Chronicles along with several extra-biblical sources that embellish the narrative, providing a deep dive into the character of Solomon and his era.

The music of “Solomon” is quintessentially Baroque, with Händel employing his full mastery of orchestral color and vocal writing. The oratorio is renowned for its grand choruses, which rank among the most powerful and uplifting of Händel’s choral works. These choruses, along with arias and recitatives, explore themes of love, politics, and piety, reflecting the religious and cultural significance of Solomon’s story.

One of the most famous sections of “Solomon” is the Sinfonia, often referred to as “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba,” which serves as an instrumental interlude. This piece, in particular, is famous for its lively, rhythmic energy and intricate lines, and it has become popular as a standalone piece in concert performances.

Händel’s “Solomon” is admired not only for its musical brilliance but also for how it captures the splendor and wisdom of Solomon’s court. The oratorio’s portrayal of Solomon himself is nuanced, showing him as a wise ruler, a devout leader, and a lover of peace, making the work a rich tapestry of musical and dramatic art. This work continues to be performed frequently, a testament to its enduring beauty and depth.

Act I

Act I sets the stage with grandeur and celebration, focusing on the themes of wisdom, prosperity, and marital bliss under King Solomon’s reign. The act opens with Solomon and his people celebrating the completion of the Temple in Jerusalem, a monumental achievement that symbolizes peace and divine favor. The music, rich with festive choruses and regal orchestrations, captures the joy and solemnity of this significant moment in Solomon’s rule.

As the act progresses, attention shifts to the personal life of Solomon. He is joined by his Queen, and together they express their mutual love and respect through a series of beautifully crafted duets and arias. These pieces are lyrical and expressive, underscoring the deep affection between the royal couple. Solomon praises his Queen’s beauty and virtues, while she responds with admiration for his wisdom and leadership. Their exchange not only highlights the idealized love but also serves to establish the peace and stability of Solomon’s kingdom, reflecting the prosperity that his wisdom has brought to the land.

This act also showcases Solomon’s famed wisdom through his interaction with his subjects and his governance. He is portrayed as a benevolent and wise king, deeply concerned with justice and the well-being of his people. The choral and orchestral pieces continue to reflect the themes of peace and prosperity, with lush harmonies and majestic arrangements.

Act II

Act II shifts focus from the personal and celebratory themes of the first act to a display of Solomon’s famed wisdom and justice. This act is particularly famous for its dramatic depiction of the biblical story of the Judgment of Solomon, which showcases his ability to discern the truth and administer wise justice.

The act opens with Solomon presiding over his court. Two women, both claiming to be the mother of a child, come before him, each asserting her right to the infant. The scene is tense and emotionally charged, as the women plead their cases with urgency and desperation. Handel masterfully captures the drama and tension of this narrative through his music, using recitatives and arias to convey the women’s emotions and the gravity of the situation.

Solomon, in his wisdom, proposes a harrowing test to determine the true mother. He commands that the child be divided in two, each woman to receive half. This drastic decree is a test to reveal the true mother’s deeper compassion and willingness to sacrifice her claim to save her child. The music heightens in intensity as the drama unfolds, reflecting the shock and horror of the court and the audience.

One woman readily agrees to Solomon’s decree, while the other, driven by maternal instinct, renounces her claim to the child, preferring to see him alive and with the other woman rather than killed. Solomon immediately identifies her as the true mother, and his decision is met with relief and admiration. This resolution is not only a testament to Solomon’s wisdom but also serves as a moral lesson on justice, mercy, and maternal love.

The act concludes with the people and the court praising Solomon’s judgment, celebrating his wisdom with uplifting choruses that affirm his role as a divinely guided and just ruler. This act, through its compelling narrative and Handel’s expressive composition, highlights the ideal qualities of a leader and cements Solomon’s legacy as a wise king.


Act III shifts the narrative to a grand and diplomatic event, celebrating the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon’s court. This act highlights Solomon’s renown and the splendor of his kingdom, which has attracted the curiosity and admiration of distant rulers. The Queen of Sheba, having heard of Solomon’s wisdom and the magnificence of his realm, comes to witness these wonders for herself.

The act opens with a majestic introduction as the Queen arrives. This is famously represented musically by “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba,” an instrumental sinfonia that is one of Handel’s most popular and frequently performed pieces. The music is lively and vibrant, perfectly capturing the excitement and anticipation of the Queen’s arrival with its brisk rhythms and bright melodies.

As the Queen of Sheba meets Solomon, there is a mutual expression of respect and admiration. Solomon welcomes her with generous hospitality and offers to share his wisdom. The Queen poses questions and listens to Solomon’s wise answers, and the dialogue between them is marked by elegance and decorum, underscored by Handel’s sophisticated music. This exchange not only serves to further display Solomon’s intelligence but also fosters a diplomatic bond between the two leaders.

The Queen, impressed by the prosperity and peace of Solomon’s kingdom, as well as his wise and just rule, praises him. This leads to a celebration that includes elaborate choruses and arias, expressing the joy and harmony of the occasion. The music throughout is lush and grand, reflecting the wealth and cultural richness of Solomon’s court.

The act culminates in a grand finale where both the court of Solomon and the visiting party join in a magnificent chorus, celebrating peace, wisdom, and mutual respect between the two nations. The chorus extols the virtues of Solomon and the benefits of wise leadership, and the music swells to a joyful and triumphant conclusion.


M. Özgür Nevres

Published by M. Özgür Nevres

I am Özgür Nevres, a software engineer, a former road racing cyclist, and also an amateur musician. I opened to share my favorite music. I also take care of stray cats & dogs. This website's all income goes directly to our furry friends. Please consider supporting me on Patreon, so I can help more animals!

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