Cantata: History

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Cantata comes from the word cantare, which indicates”to sing.” In its early form, cantatas referred to some music piece that is supposed to be sung. Nevertheless, as with almost any musical form, the cantata has evolved throughout the years.

Loosely defined today, a cantata is a work with multiple movements and instrumental accompaniment; it could possibly be based on a secular or sacred topic.

Early cantatas were at the Italian language and were composed in sacred (church cantata) or planted (chamber cantata) styles. Composers for the cantata include Pietro Antonio Cesti, Giacomo Carissimi, Giovanni Legrenzi, Luigi Rossi, Alessandro Stradella, Mario Savioni and Alessandro Scarlatti; the most outstanding composer of all cantatas during that period.

Before long, this musical form was making its way to Germany courtesy of Johann Hasse, one of the students of Scarlatti. Composers such as George Frideric Handel wrote cantatas based on the Italian style, but these were afterwards written in German. In France, 18th-century composers such as Jean-Philippe Rameau wrote cantatas in their native language as well.

The Construction of Cantata

The early form of cantata was characterized by alternated recitative, arioso (short lyrical piece) and also aria-like sections.

After 1700, the cantata started to feature 2 to 3 da capo arias separated by recitatives. Later on in the 1700s, cantatas especially in France and England consisted of 3 arias with recitative introduction for each.

During the years, this musical form has evolved and is no longer confined to voice or voices. Through the twentieth-century, composers such as Benjamin Britten further contributed to developed this type to also encompasses choruses and orchestras.

Differences from other musical forms

The Italian solo cantata tended, when on a large scale, to become indistinguishable in the exact same manner the church cantata is indistinguishable from a small oratorio or portion of an oratorio. This is equally clear whether we examine the unparalleled church cantatas of Bach, of which nearly 200 are extant, or the Chandos Anthems of all Handel

Cantatas were in great need for the services of the Lutheran church. Sacred cantatas for the liturgy or other occasions weren’t only composed by Bach but additionally by Dieterich Buxtehude, Christoph Graupner, Gottfried Heinrich St√∂lzel and Georg Philipp Telemann, to mention a few. Many secular cantatas were composed for events at the nobility. They were so comparable in form to the sacred ones a good deal of them were parodied (in parts or completely) to sacred cantatas, for example at Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

During the classical and romantic period this term came to be applied almost exclusively to choir works, as distinguished from solo vocal music. Beethoven (Glorreiche Augenblick), Mendelssohn (Die erste Walpurgisnacht), Brahms (Rinaldo), Berlioz, Schoenberg (Gurrelieder, early twentieth century) and others, composed cantatas.

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