Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
a large work for voices and instruments, usually soloists, chorus, and orchestra. There are solemn, joyful, lyrical, sorrowful, and narrative cantatas in two basic types: secular and church (sacred). A cantata is usually made up of an orchestral introduction, arias, recitatives, and choruses. It is related to the oratorio but is written on a smaller scale, without dramatic plot development, and primarily in chamber style.
The cantata developed in Italy in the first half of the 17th century. Initially the Italian cantata was monodic; later it grew closer to opera. It flourished in the mid-17th century with the work of such composers as G. Carissimi, A. Stradella, and A. Scarlatti. The Italian cantatas were secular; the church cantata took shape in Germany, giving the chorus added importance in relation to the orchestra and soloists. J. S. Bach’s church and secular cantatas are among the greatest examples of the genre.
The first Russian cantatas were written in the 18th century. In the second half of the 19th century a number of significant cantatas were written by Russian composers of the classical school, including Tchaikovsky (Moscow), Rimsky-Korsakov (From Homer), S. I. Taneev, and S. Rachmaninoff. The Soviet cantata is distinguished by the heightened role of the chorus and the use of intonations from folk and popular songs. The most prominent themes are historical-heroic (Alexander Nevsky by Prokofiev and the symphony-cantata In Kulikovo Field by Iu. A. Shaporin) and patriotic (Cantata About the Motherland by A. G. Arutiunian and the symphony-cantata My Ukraine by A. Ia. Shtogarenko).
REFERENCESKhokhlovkina, A. Sovetskaia oratoriia i kantata. Moscow, 1955.
Shirinian, R. Oratoriia i kantata. Moscow, 1960.
Schmitz, E. Geschichte der Kantate und des geistlichen Konzerts, vol. 1: Geschichte der weltlichen Solokantate, [3rd ed.]. Hildesheim, 1965.
B. V. LEVIK