Private Music in Public Spheres: Chamber Cantata and Song

Joncus, Berta. 2009. Private Music in Public Spheres: Chamber Cantata and Song. In: Simon P. Keefe, ed. The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 513-40. ISBN 9780521663199 [Book Section]

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The eighteenth-century secular cantata confronts us with a nest of paradoxes. Though conceived at the beginning of the century as a kind of poetry, the cantata had for decades before been Italy’s dominant type of vocal chamber music. Though chamber music, the cantata shared with opera its use of alternating recitatives and arias for solo voice with continuo accompaniment. Though from 1700 bound up with particular social practices of the Italian literati, once disseminated abroad after 1700 the cantata merged and competed with indigenous chamber song – in the process becoming an ‘umbrella term’ for a wide range of musical forms, some of which were extremely popular. Though once so fêted, cantata music is virtually unknown to listeners today. This study will follow the chamber cantata from its birthplace in Italy through its absorption in France, England and Germany, tracking its metamorphoses as determined by local conditions of production and pre-existing traditions of song, and identifying the contributions of the genre’s chief exponents.

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September 2009Published

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22 Mar 2024 12:57

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22 Mar 2024 12:57


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