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The Baroque Era


• 1600-1750 • Baroque means “misshapen pearl” • Originally meant to be negative, distorted grotesque • Term applied retroactively in the 19th century for art historians to identify and age of decadence between Renaissance and Classical Era

From Renaissance to Baroque
• Composers strove for affect – to move the audience by artful imitation of emotion • Thirst for expression led composers to increasingly esoteric forms of word-painting • Reaction developed against the madrigal and such expression • Word-painting artificial and childish • Too many voices did not focus feeling, it only diluted

Ren to Bar..
• True emotionality projected only by a single voice • New style, recitative, half music-half recitation • This led to stage, and eventually opera • Church and court remained primary musical institutions – financial resources • Composers were often pulled from court jobs to better paying church jobs

Baroque Opera House

Extravagance and Control
• Music in Italy was bursting out of its traditional forms, styles and genres • Music freedom was abundant • Simultaneously, music was becoming more structured and systematic • As they tried to simplify, composers found they had to organize it more strictly in another sense so listeners did not lose track of what was happening

Secular traditions
• Much music making still took place in streets and fields, coffeehouses, taverns, private homes, – unwritten traditions • Songs, dances, variations, and simple melodies • Memory and improvisation • Preserved by writing only when heard by a composers

The Enraged Musician (1741)

O Magnum Mysterium
• Published in 1615 • Giovanni Gabrieli • (1555 – 1612)

Baroque Sacred Music
• Oratorio • Motet and Mass • Cantata

• Novel sacred genre of Baroque • Sung drama without staging/costumes but included orchestra • Sacred counterpart to Opera • Catholic church recognized power of opera to convey moral/spiritual messages, at same time condemned opera for its power to dazzle and seduce • Vatican banned opera performance in Catholic areas from Advent thru Lent

• Oratorio filled that void • 1650 – the idea to present a dramatic scene from the Bible arose • A narrator was used to connect plots • Also includes recitative, da capo aria, and chorus • Handel’s Messiah most popular oratorio ever

Popular Oratorios
• Bach - St. Matthew’s Passion, Christmas Oratorio • Handel – Messiah, Saul, Judas Maccabaeus • Haydn – Creation

• From the italian cantare – “to sing” • Both small and large-scale works ranging from solo singer with continuo to large chorus, soloists, and orchestra • Single or multiple movements • Bach’s Jesu der du Meine Seele (1724)

Jesu, der du Meine Seele
• Format:
• • • • • • • Chorus – Jesu der du Meine Seele Aria – Soprano and Alto Recitative – Tenor Aria – Tenor and Flute Recitative – Bass and Strings Aria – Bass Chorale –

Most of Bach’s Cantatas follow this symmetrical form

Mass and Motet
• Non-dramatic sacred vocal music genres • Polyphonic motet continued to flourish • Later Baroque sacred music sounds operatic in its virtuosity • No clear distinction between sacred and secular styles BEFORE 19thw century • highest example of musical artistry

Cantata VS Oratorio
• Cantata:
– Similar theme – Smaller audiences – Not overly-dramatic – Broken into sections, movements – 10-20 minutes

Cantata VS Oratorio
• Oratorio:
– Same storyline – More recitative – More Chorus – Religious Opera w/o acting

“Christmas Oratorio” VS. “Wachet Auf…”