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cantata


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(It.).

Sung. Term with different meanings according to period: (1) In early 17th cent., often a dramatic madrigal sung by one v., with lute acc. or basso continuo. The form became very popular in It. later in 17th cent., being perf. by several vv., some cantatas being comp. of recit., others of a succession of arias. The cantata da camera was secular, the cantata da chiesa (developed by Carissimi) sacred. A prolific exponent of the cantata was A. Scarlatti, who wrote 600 for solo v. and continuo, 60 for v. and instrs., and several chamber cantatas for 2 vv. (2) During 18th cent., became more theatrical, comprising a ritornello, aria on two contrasted themes, and concluding ritornello, and acc. by str. In Ger. the form was found mainly in the church, written for soloist(s), ch., organ, and orch. on biblical text. Telemann, Schütz, and Handel wrote in this style but were overshadowed by Bach who wrote nearly 300 church cantatas as well as secular cantatas which resemble a short opera (Coffee Cantata and Peasant Cantata). (3) From Bach's model there developed the cantata of the 19th cent. which was usually on a sacred subject and was, in effect, a short oratorio. Secular cantatas on an elaborate scale are Elgar's King Olaf and Caractacus. In the 20th cent. the term has acquired a much looser meaning. Walton's Belshazzar's Feast and Vaughan Williams's Sancta Civitas are described by their composers as oratorios, but could equally well be classified as cantatas. Britten's Cantata academica is for soloists, ch., and orch., while Stravinsky's Cantata is for 2 soloists, women's ch., and 6 instr.

(1) In early 17th cent., often a dramatic madrigal sung by one v., with lute acc. or basso continuo. The form became very popular in It. later in 17th cent., being perf. by several vv., some cantatas being comp. of recit., others of a succession of arias. The cantata da camera was secular, the cantata da chiesa (developed by Carissimi) sacred. A prolific exponent of the cantata was A. Scarlatti, who wrote 600 for solo v. and continuo, 60 for v. and instrs., and several chamber cantatas for 2 vv. (2) During 18th cent., became more theatrical, comprising a ritornello, aria on two contrasted themes, and concluding ritornello, and acc. by str. In Ger. the form was found mainly in the church, written for soloist(s), ch., organ, and orch. on biblical text. Telemann, Schütz, and Handel wrote in this style but were overshadowed by Bach who wrote nearly 300 church cantatas as well as secular cantatas which resemble a short opera (Coffee Cantata and Peasant Cantata). (3) From Bach's model there developed the cantata of the 19th cent. which was usually on a sacred subject and was, in effect, a short oratorio. Secular cantatas on an elaborate scale are Elgar's King Olaf and Caractacus. In the 20th cent. the term has acquired a much looser meaning. Walton's Belshazzar's Feast and Vaughan Williams's Sancta Civitas are described by their composers as oratorios, but could equally well be classified as cantatas. Britten's Cantata academica is for soloists, ch., and orch., while Stravinsky's Cantata is for 2 soloists, women's ch., and 6 instr.

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Subjects: Music.


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