A History of the Oratorio - Vol. 3

A History of the Oratorio - Vol. 3

A History of the Oratorio - Vol. 3

A History of the Oratorio - Vol. 3

Excerpt

The present volume continues A History of the Oratorio, two volumes of which were published in Chapel Hill in 1977: volume 1, The Oratorio in the Baroque Era: Italy, Vienna, Paris; and 2, The Oratorio in the Baroque Era: Protestant Germany and England. This volume starts where the previous two stopped and, like them, its purpose is to report on the present state of knowledge in the field of oratorio history. It is intended for the student of music, but the student of cultural history, with little musical background, may find at least parts of the work useful.

In the prefaces to both of the previous volumes I wrote that the third volume would treat the history of oratorio since the Baroque era, and, indeed, I originally intended this one to extend into the twentieth century. Nevertheless, the enormous amount of important source material available for the oratorio since the Baroque era has necessitated an expansion of the project. In the interest of treating the history of the oratorio with sufficient detail to represent responsibly the genre and the research done on it to date, I have limited this volume mainly to the eighteenth-century oratorio in early Classical and Classical styles. A fourth volume, on the oratorio in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, is in progress.

The term "Classical era" used in the title of the present volume requires some explanation, for it has a broader meaning here than in some musicological literature. Rather than adopting a restrictive interpretation of the term, in which it refers only to the time of late Haydn and Mozart and of Beethoven, I have preferred Friedrich Blume's view that "The beginnings of what music historiography designates as the Classic period reach back to before the middle of the 18th century, into the generation of Johann Sebastian Bach." Thus I include some oratorios from as early as the third decade of the eighteenth century -- works which exhibit characteristics of melody, texture, and harmonic rhythm that are closer to what is generally described as Classical style than to Baroque. In musi-

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