Cantata

   Refers to a great body of secular vocal music arising in Italy during the third decade of the 17th century as one of the many responses to the invention of opera. Secular cantatas set lyrical or dramatic texts for one or two voices and continuo that often emulate a single scene or speech from an opera. They may be as short as a single aria, although they usually are composed in several alternations of recitative and aria. Thousands were composed in Italy during the 17th century and were imitated in Germany and France in the 18th century, mostly as court entertainment.
   The sacred genre "cantata" refers instead to a Lutheran tradition of setting Biblical texts in German for liturgy. The term "Kantate" is not found in German sources before 1700 and seems to have largely arisen from a 19th-century appellation for Johann Sebastian Bach’s church music and then to its antecedents. These went by various names: "concerto," "motetto," "psalmo," etc. The cantata grew out of the Lutheran Evangelienmotette (Gospel motet), which offered a musical interpretation of a Gospel pericope for the day, sung after the Gospel’s chanting and preceding the sermon. Scoring could be as small as a solo voice and continuo or as large as full chorus and small orchestra, with all manner of intermediary scorings. Important developments from 1650–1700 include the addition of non-Biblical strophic poetry, increasing metric distinction between aria and recitative texture, and the importation of chorales traditionally sung by the congregation before the Gospel for structural and symbolic purposes. In 1700, Erdmann Neumeister published Geistliche Cantaten {}statt einer Kirchen-Music ("Sacred Cantatas in Place of Liturgical Music"), which offered verses in recitative and da capo aria in the Italian manner, "madrigal" texts, perhaps for devotional use. He followed up with cycles in 1711 and 1714 incorporating Biblical and chorale texts into such operatic verses to make the "reform" cantata texts for which he became famous, although this combination was anticipated by Duke Ernst Ludwig of Meinigen by 1704. Five of Neumeister’s texts were set by J. S. Bach. Unless based on explicit chorales, the arias and recitatives from such cantatas are musically indistinguishable from opera movements.
   The Bach corpus of about 200 extant church cantatas (of supposedly 300 composed) is the central repertory of the genre, composed largely in two furious periods of activity from 1713–1716 in Weimar and from 1723–1729 in Leipzig. Most were composed for particular liturgies. The writing for the chorus and vocal soloists is the most technically demanding in church music before the 19th century. Bach’s promotion to Konzertmeister of the Weimar court in 1714 required of him a monthly cantata. He composed these to librettos written mostly by Salomo Franck according to the Neumeister pattern. The scoring and the pattern of movements vary widely. The Leipzig cantatas most commonly call for a four-voice choir and four-part string ensemble, continuo, and a variety of obbligato instruments and vocal soloists. Bach’s Obituary states that he composed "five annual cycles of church pieces for all the Sundays and holy days, running from the first Sunday after Trinity to Trinity Sunday." These should amount to 300 works, but only the first two cycles (1723–1725) are fairly complete. A typical pattern of movements for a Leipzig cantata would be:
   Chorus (biblical text)—Recitative—Aria—Recitative—Aria—Chorale. Insertions of additional movements were made if the text demanded them. For the second annual cycle Bach composed "chorale cantatas" almost exclusively. These make explicit use of a chorale melody, chosen for the particular feast, as a cantus firmus in the opening chorus, in the concluding movement as a simple hymn-like setting, and occasionally in the inner movements. The texts for the inner movements could be paraphrases of the traditional chorale text. The chorale cantata seems to be Bach’s own invention; use of chorale melodies in cantatas by contemporaries was exceptional.
   About 16 secular cantatas by Bach are extant. He composed these for civic events, princely birthdays, and occasionally as public entertainments. Production of church cantatas continued apace in the years after Bach, but the cantata’s privileged position as the musical centerpiece of Lutheran liturgy declined in the second half of the 18th century owing to increasing secularization in society, to the decline of the Italian opera seria with its strict alternation of recitative and da capo aria, and to the revival of simple chorale singing and older kinds of liturgical music. It was an anachronism by 1800, and thereafter the term "cantata" can be considered a marginally sacred genre only when, as in Edward Elgar’s Sancta Civitas (1926), the text is sacred. Such cantatas in any case took on the form of short concert oratorios, almost never intended for worship but rather for the concert hall.

Historical dictionary of sacred music. . 2006.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • cantată — CANTÁTĂ, cantate, s.f. Compoziţie muzicală ocazională, cu caracter solemn sau liric, pentru voci, solo, cor şi orchestră. ♢ (În compusul) Cantată oratoriu = compoziţie vocal instrumentală pe un libret cu temă dramatică. – Din it. cantata. Trimis… …   Dicționar Român

  • Cantata — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Literalmente, la «cantata» es una pieza que se canta y se distingue de la pieza para ser tocada o «sonada» en acontecimientos católicos (la «sonata»). Desde la época barroca, la cantata es una composición para una o… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Cantata++ — ist ein Programm, um Modultests an Software auszuführen. Es wird vom Unternehmen Ipl hergestellt. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Target Sprachen 2 Host Betriebssysteme 3 Funktionsweise 4 Lizen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • cantata — sustantivo femenino 1. Área: música Composición lírica musical para coro y orquesta destinada a música de cámara, música religiosa o concierto, en la que alternan los recitativos con las arias: las cantatas barrocas. Literalmente, sonata… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • cantata — (Del it. cantata). f. Composición poética de alguna extensión, escrita para que se le ponga música y se cante …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • cantata — ► NOUN ▪ a medium length narrative or descriptive piece of music with vocal solos and normally a chorus and orchestra. ORIGIN from Italian cantata aria sung air …   English terms dictionary

  • Cantata — Can*ta ta, n. [It., fr. cantare to sing, fr. L. cantare intens of canere to sing.] (Mus.) A poem set to music; a musical composition comprising choruses, solos, interludes, etc., arranged in a somewhat dramatic manner; originally, a composition… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cantāta — (ital.), Gesangstück, s. Kantate …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • cantata — s.f. [part. pass. femm. di cantare2]. 1. [canto prolungato] ▶◀ canto. ‖ aria, canzone, serenata. 2. (mus.) [ampia composizione musicale per voci e strumenti, sacra o profana, nata e diffusasi soprattutto nei sec. 17° e 18°] ▶◀ ‖ Lied, romanza.… …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • cantata — ит. [канта/та], англ. [кэнта/тэ] cantate фр. [канта/т] кантата ◊ cantatila ит. [кантати/лла] небольшая кантата …   Словарь иностранных музыкальных терминов

  • cantata — 1724, from It., lit. that which is sung, pp. of cantare to sing (see CHANT (Cf. chant)) …   Etymology dictionary

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