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In music, the cantata ( Latin cantare "to sing") describes a family of forms of multi-movement works for one or more voices and instrumental accompaniment . Recitatives , arias , ariosi , choral movements , chorales and instrumental preludes and interludes can alternate in any number.

There are both sacred and secular cantatas. A cantata from the 17th century onwards is called a chamber cantata if it is only intended for a vocal part, figured bass and occasionally a few melodic instruments. The style and content of the choral cantata follows a sacred chorale. The children's cantata is a work for children's choirs , which can also contain scenic and educational elements. To this day, Christmas cantatas are still being written for Christmas .

As part of the proclamation in church services , the cantata attained its greatest importance in the first half of the 18th century .

Performance of a cantata by Dietrich Buxtehude . Three vocal soloists are grouped around a harpsichord in the first row, accompanied by two concertos violins and the cello in the second row


Early baroque

The accompanying monody of the early baroque was regarded as an unheard-of and initially controversial innovation in the church sector . In the 17th century , on this basis, the Sacred Concerto emerged, which (following the motet tradition of the Renaissance ) could consist of several parts and have sections with different scoring. The more text-oriented and formally freer forms of monody developed into a recitative, the lyrical and lyrical forms into an aria. The sequence of movements that characterize the cantatas, consisting of separate individual pieces, developed particularly clearly in the works of the composer Wolfgang Carl Briegel and soon spread throughout Central Germany.

Baroque and pre-classical

The most famous baroque cantatas composers are Dieterich Buxtehude , Johann Sebastian Bach (see Bach cantata ) and Georg Philipp Telemann (see Telemann cantatas ), who composed cantatas primarily, but not exclusively, for church use.

The German church cantata was created for the Lutheran church service, where it followed the gospel or - in two-part works - framed the sermon . It was understood as the proclamation of the word through music, and secondarily as an offering of praise. Therefore the most urgent text declamation was decisive for its development.

A typical church cantata from the time of Johann Sebastian Bach consists of:

  • Instrumental prelude (optional)
  • Entrance choir (optional)
  • Sequence of recitatives , arias , ariosi and chorales , possibly also choirs
  • Final chorale

Biblical texts, paraphrases about this, free contemporary poetry and chorales, which were also frequently paraphrased as in the middle movements of Bach's chorale cantatas from 1724, served as the basis of the text .

The solo cantata for only one voice and accompaniment by continuo or orchestra was also important . A master of this form, which was also common in the secular area, was v. a. Alessandro Scarlatti .

A larger form of cantatas is, for example, the Christmas oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach, a cycle of several cantatas.

In Leipzig, Johann Friedrich Doles wrote 158 cantatas as a Bach student and Thomaskantor in the post-Bach era. However, the aesthetics now changed completely in line with the emerging Enlightenment . The main challenge now is

"... the easy comprehension and sequence of rhythms, the simple and powerful harmony and the heart-melting melody."

- Johann Friedrich Doles, 1790

The composing sons Johann Sebastian Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach , Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach as well as his students Johann Christoph Altnikol , Gottfried August Homilius , Johann Friedrich Agricola , Johann Peter Kellner and Johann Ludwig Krebs wrote cantatas. Further composers of cantatas are Christoph Graupner , Georg Anton Benda , Johann Heinrich Rolle and Johann Gottlieb Naumann .

The church cantata almost came to a standstill in the time of Johann Gottfried Herder , who demanded that church music should not be dramatic. This means that "dramatized biblical stories" fall out of church music. "Arias, duets, trios are secondary and must not want to shine for themselves." Herder turned "in an ever more pronounced way to the ideal of solemn, ... predominantly choral church music, which opposes the concerted cantata and the dramatic oratorio."

Classic and Romantic

Performance of the cantata Der Stern von Bethlehem by Josef Gabriel Rheinberger , a romantic Christmas cantata

After a shadowy existence in the Viennese classical period , the cantata was occasionally taken up again in Romantic music , for example by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy ( hymn of praise and several psalm and choral cantatas ). These cantatas “are up to date in terms of their musical structure and the use of tonal possibilities.” They “brought the story of Nachbach's cantatas to a certain conclusion. Cantata-like works from tradition were still written in the later 19th century, but they play an all too subordinate role. "

The connection of the symphony with elements of the cantata since Beethoven's 9th symphony led to the development of the symphony cantata . Ferdinand Ries created his cantata Der Morgen in 1806 , a work for four voices and orchestra. Franz Lachner developed an allegorical cantata on the theme of The Four Ages , op. 31 (1829).

In Italy, Saverio Mercadante achieved a first and brilliant success in 1818 with the cantata L'unione delle belle arti, and from then on devoted himself almost exclusively to opera. Johann Simon Mayr stood out with over sixty cantatas . Egeria for one voice, choir and orchestra (Brescia 1816) and Annibale (Bergamo 1816) are examples of this abundance.

For the period of Biedermeier is Christian Heinrich Rinck . Three of his cantatas are worth mentioning: the Charfreytags cantata for solos, choir and organ op. 76, the Christmas cantata op. 73 and the cantata God cares for us op. 98 for choir and organ.

As early as 1845 there was a certain restoration of cantatas. Johann Theodor Mosewius as director of the Breslau Singakademie "was the first who ... called for Bach cantatas to be introduced into the church service in his book JS Bach in his church cantatas and chorale songs ." Bach cantatas were introduced by Thomaskantor Moritz Hauptmann in the middle of the 19th century then naturalized again in the Leipzig service.

But secular cantatas also continued to develop: Jacques Fromental Halévy's cantata Prométhée enchaîné was premiered at the Paris Conservatory in 1849 and is the first western orchestral composition to use quarter tones. As early as 1819 he received the Rome price for his cantata with the name Herminie .

In 1868 Johannes Brahms completed his Rinaldo op. 50, a secular cantata for tenor, male choir and orchestra based on texts by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

A typical work of late Romanticism is Gustav Mahler's secular cantata Das klagende Lied, completed in 1880, with an oversized orchestra, choir and soloist. Mahler's great orchestral dimension became a model for various composers of the 20th century.

In the secular area, works by Niels Wilhelm Gade should be mentioned: the cantata Korsfarerne (German: Die Kreuzfahrer , 1865–1866) and the cantata Psyche (1880–1881). Felix Draeseke wrote the cantatas Germania to her children for soprano, male choir and orchestra (WoO 3a, after Heinrich von Kleist - 1859) and Der Schwur im Rütli , cantata for soprano, male choir and orchestra (WoO 9, 1869). At the end of the 19th century , Ludwig Thuille created Fridolin , a cantata for solos, male choir and orchestra (text after Friedrich Schiller , 1893) and the Russian composer Anton Stepanowitsch Arensky The Fountain of Bakhchisarai (op. 46, 1899). The cantata Die Macht des Gesangs by Caspar Joseph Brambach (op. 6, 1860) is also based on texts by Friedrich Schiller .

In 1897, the cantata was AMARUS of Leoš Janáček on a poem by Jaroslav Vrchlický that evokes the mystical atmosphere of a monastery.

The cantatas by Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev at the end and at the beginning of the century show a spiritually edifying direction : John of Damascus , op. 1 (1884) and After Reading a Psalm , op. 36 (1915).


Beginning of the 20th century

The Communist Party's manifesto became the subject of a cantata in the 20th century. Erwin Schulhoff set the text to music.

As a “reduced art form of the oratorio, the cantata has enjoyed increasing care among composers since 1900.” The “description of extra-musical processes” is becoming increasingly clear. The youth movement and the singing movement, including numerous small masters , are also increasingly gaining influence on the genre.

In the secular realm, Spring (often also Der Frühling , Russian Весна) for baritone, mixed choir and orchestra by Sergej Rachmaninow should be mentioned, his opus 20 from 1902. The Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar created the two cantatas Ett Folk , op . 22 (1905) and Sangen , op. 44 (1921). Carl Nielsen's festive cantata for the anniversary of Copenhagen University (text: Niels Møller, op. 24, 1908) and Karol Szymanowski 's cantata Demeter for voice, choir and orchestra (text: Zofia Szymanowska, op. 37, 1917) are also on Mention should be made of the beginning of the twentieth century, even if the tonal language is in many cases still late-romantic and thus assigned to the 19th. The Frenchman Noël Gallon won the Prix ​​de Rome in 1910 with his cantata Acis et Galathée .

In 1900 Ottorino Respighi created a biblical cantata called Christ . In the spiritual realm there is a struggle to recognize appropriate forms and dimensions. In the 20th century , for example, an attempt was made again to maintain the cantata in a less expensive form for church use, especially with a view to the Christian Christmas and Easter celebrations. However, given its enormous historical heritage, the cantata genre initially led a marginal existence.

1911/12 was a Christian symbolist text Konstantin Balmont the cantata Le Roi des étoiles by Igor Stravinsky . By Walter Courvoisier the cantata comes resurrection (former title: Dead celebration .), A cantata for four soloists, mixed choir and orchestra op 26; based on the words of the Bible, edited by Alfred Bertholet (1915).

German lyric poems formed the textual basis for a number of other cantatas. After the First World War, Hans Pfitzner created a great work of the genre: From the German soul . A romantic cantata (op.28; 1921) for solo voices, choir, orchestra and organ (dedicated to the memory of my dear sister-in-law Eva Kwast). The text is based on poems by Joseph von Eichendorff . It premiered on January 27, 1922 in Berlin with Selmar Meyrowitz as conductor. With his vocals over the waters designed Herbert Windt 1921 a cantata on a poem by Richard Dehmel . Günter Raphael wrote a cantata based on texts by Goethe for soprano and bass solo, choir, trumpet, harpsichord and string orchestra in 1928 .

Conrad Beck dedicated a cantata to the theme of Oedipus in 1928. This was followed by a lyric cantata with texts by Rainer Maria Rilke and in 1937 a chamber cantata based on sonnets by Louize Labé.

The 1920s continued to experiment: in 1929 the cantata Lindberghflug (1929) by Bertolt Brecht (text) and Kurt Weill and Paul Hindemith (music), which was designed for the new medium of radio , also included transmission and engine noises. Weill also created other cantatas: Der neue Orpheus , cantata for soprano, solo violin and orchestra, op. 16 (text: Yvan Goll , 1927); Das Berliner Requiem , small cantata for tenor, baritone, male choir (or three male voices) and wind orchestra (text: Bertolt Brecht, 1928) and most recently The Ballad of Magna Carta , cantata for tenor and bass soloists, choir and orchestra (text: Maxwell Anderson , 1940). The Frenchman Tony Aubin won the Prix ​​de Rome in 1930 for his cantata Actéon . In 1930 Ernst Toch turned to the subject of water in a cantata: The water was based on words by Alfred Döblin . Ernst Krenek wrote a cantata on the transience of the earthly (op. 72, 1932). In the same year Erwin Schulhoff set the Communist Party's manifesto in the form of a cantata as Opus 82 .

But the genre was also cultivated in the area of ​​church music: Frank Martin created a cantata pour le temps de Noel (Christmas cantata) between 1929 and 1930 on the occasion of Christmas .

With recourse to Romanian folk poetry, but without the use of folk music , Béla Bartók wrote his most extensive and most important choral work in 1930, the allegorical Cantata profana (“The Magic Deer”) on a libretto written by himself.

The Frenchman Eugène Bozza won the prestigious Prix ​​de Rome in 1934 with his cantata “Légende de Roukmani” . The same happened to Pierre Sancan in 1943 with his cantata La légende d'Icare . Three years before the outbreak of the World War (1936), Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote an urgent plea for peace, his cantata Dona nobis pacem for soprano, baritone, choir and orchestra.

time of the nationalsocialism

Many cantatas, including those by Kurt Weill and Paul Hindemith, were considered degenerate music from 1938 and could no longer be performed in Germany.
The genre of a cantata could u. a. also instrumentalize politically, especially where masses came together. Occasions were sports festivals, party events or the central hero commemoration (picture: 1940).

In 1935, Hugo Distler published his sacred cantata Wo Gott zu Haus nit as opus 11 as a choral cantata in the old German-Reformation style. In order to politically enforce his church music goals, Hugo Distler had to provide the Nazi state with cultural services in return. In April 1934, Distler interrupted work on his sacred compositions in order to write the commissioned music for a secular Thingspiel cantata Ewiges Deutschland about national texts by the poet Wolfram Brockmeier - head of the poetry department of the Reichsschrifttumskammer . Edgar Rabsch created the cantata Celebration of Work in 1935 , Kurt Thomas contributed a cantata for the Olympics (op. 28, 1936) to the Berlin Olympic Games . From WERNER EGK comes from this year's Olympic Cantata Altius - Citius - Fortius (1936). In 1935 Armin Knab created a spring cantata based on folk songs for youth choir, individual voices, speaker, recorder and violin under the title Grüß Gott, du Schöne Maie . In terms of style, the work belongs to the Nuremberg School of the time , which advocates the economical use of resources, the abandonment of sentimental softness and only "making music along the lines". In 1938, Walter Rein created a solstice cantata in a similar spirit .

Some composers fled into exile during this time: Ernst Toch wrote the cantata with the English title Cantata of the Bitter Herbs in 1937 in American exile . Also in American exile, Kurt Weill wrote The Ballad of Magna Carta in 1940 , a cantata for tenor and bass soloists, choir and orchestra (text: Maxwell Anderson ). Both Weill and Paul Hindemith were considered degenerate music in Germany . In exile in England, Hans Gál wrote De profundis , his Opus 50 for solos, choir, orchestra and organ (1936/37). Walter Braunfels , who chose inner emigration , created a Christmas cantata for soprano, baritone, choir and orchestra op.52 between 1934 and 1937 .

In 1937, Wolfgang Fortner set a work for mixed choir and orchestra entitled Von der Kraft der Gemeinschaft - for the bicentenary of the University of Göttingen, based on texts from Wolfram Brockmeier's celebration cantata . Numerous cantatas also flowed from Cesar Bresgen's pen , such as Lichtwende from 1939. The historian Michael H. Kater rated Bresgen as the most industrious and popular composer of the Hitler Youth because of his productivity and his resonance . Several prizes and awards that Bresgen received from 1936 are cited as evidence.

Herbert Windt created a so-called radio cantata entitled Der Flug zum Niederwald , which was broadcast on the German broadcaster in 1936 on Hitler's 47th birthday. In 1939, Ottmar Gerster made an appeal to commemorate the heroes: Commemorate Her , a cantata for soprano, speaker, male choir and orchestra, was written on Heroes' Remembrance Day . In May 1938 Werner Egk's cantata Natur-Liebe-Tod was performed at the final concert of the first Reichsmusiktage in Düsseldorf (with the disgraceful show of degenerate music ).

Zikmund Schul was deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1941, where he composed Cantata Judaïca as his opus 13 in 1942 .

In the last year of his life, the terminally ill composer Franz Schmidt experienced the "Anschluss" of Austria to the German Reich and was courted by the National Socialists as the most important living composer in Austria. He was commissioned to compose a cantata with the title German Resurrection , which after 1945 some took as an opportunity to view him as “biased”. Schmidt left this composition unfinished, however.

Second half of the 20th century

In the 20th century, the cantata genre also conveyed political content. Here John F. Kennedy, who was remembered by a cantata by Manfred Kluge in 1963.
The biblical-political motif of swords to plowshares plays a role not only in the fine arts, but also in cantatas .
The Chernobyl nuclear disaster becomes the subject of a cantata at the end of the 20th century.
Church cantatas

After the Second World War , mainly church music works of the genre emerged: Rudolf Mauersberger wrote A Little Christmas Cantata in 1948 , while Friedhelm Deis set the 23rd Psalm to music in the same year: The Lord is my Shepherd . Mention should be made of the sacred cantatas of Johannes Driessler with Because your light comes (op. 4, 1947), The Blessing of Joy, op. 36,2 and other cantatas (e.g. on the Revelation of John), which after the Second World War gave the genre new impetus. Bengt Hambraeus composed a Cantata pro defunctis for baritone and organ (1951), with which his content came close to a requiem. In 1948 Benjamin Britten created his St. Nicholas cantata , also known as Saint Nicolas Cantata . Divided into nine sections, the cantata follows the life of Bishop Nikolaus von Myra . The work is composed for mixed choir, tenor solo, piano, strings, percussion and organ as well as a small children's choir.

Ralph Vaughan Williams created his Christmas cantata Hodie for soprano, tenor, baritone, choir and orchestra (1953–1954). Almost at the same time (1953) the Cantate de Noël was written as the last composition by the Swiss Arthur Honegger . In contrast, Klaus Huber , also Swiss, created his evening cantata in 1952 , one of his first works. His compatriot Willy Burkhard worked with expressive tonal language in his cantata Die Sintflut - cantata based on the report from Book of Genesis (1954/1955), which as an a cappella work places the highest demands on the performance of the mixed choir. Ginette Keller became important for France with her cantata Et l'Homme vit se rouvrir les portes , with which she was awarded the Second Grand Prix ​​de Rome in 1951 . Gilbert Amy's Cantate brève for soprano, flute, vibraphone and xylomarimba based on poems by Federico García Lorca , written in 1957, also points to France .

Peter Cahn created the chorale cantata Es geht ein Schiff laden for a low solo voice, two violins, four-part mixed choir and organ (1954). Rudolf Wagner-Régeny created the cantata Genesis in 1956 . Hans Chemin-Petit also came out with some large-scale cantata compositions tending towards neoclassicism (for example the symphonic cantata based on the words of the preacher Solomon for alto, mixed choir and orchestra from 1966). Kurt Fiebig created the chorale cantata Wie nach einer Wasserquelle choir cantata in 1955 , Et unam sanctam in 1957 and two Paul Gerhardt cantatas: Du my soul singe (1965) and Give yourself content and be quiet (1967) based on lyrics by Paul Gerhardt .

In 1964 the biblical prophetic cantata The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb of Wilhelm Keller occasion of the Salzburg Advent festival . Johann Nepomuk David composed a Pentecostal cantata for the traditional hymn Come, Holy Spirit ( Veni Creator Spiritus ) for two choirs and orchestra (op. 72, 1972). Yun I-sang named his cantata Der wise Mann in 1977, based on texts by the preacher Solomon and Laotse for baritone, mixed choir and small orchestra . In 1974 Allan Pettersson wrote the cantata Vox humana for soloists, choir and string orchestra based on texts by various Latin American poets.

The church cantatas by Helmut Barbe , Bertold Hummel , Paul Ernst Ruppel and Rolf Schweizer , which were written in the second half of the 20th century, are also more vocal, but no less expressive .

There are also high-contrast titles. Theophil Laitenberger wrote a cantata on the nothingness of man and on the goodness and omnipotence of God (1991) for baritone, choir, woodwind, trumpet, timpani and strings.

Adam Adrio states for the musical epoch that the genre cantata and the genre sacred concert "are used side by side with the same meaning". "

Secular cantatas

But also cantatas based on literary texts from the secular area emerged: Günter Bialas set “Native poems” to music in his Indian Cantata in 1949 for baritone, chamber choir, eight instruments and percussion. Harald Genzmer created a Racine cantata for baritone solo, choir and orchestra (1949), based on texts by Jean Racine . In 1950, Rolf Liebermann wrote his argument between life and death , a cantata for soloists, choir and orchestra. In 1954 Paul Angerer dealt with the genre of a dramatic cantata: Agamemnon must die .

For Bohuslav Martinů, the ancient oriental Gilgamesh epic became the basis for a cantata of the same name , which moves in the transition area to the oratorio (H 351, premier 1958), a work commissioned by Paul Sacher . The Estonian composer Arvo Pärt created Meie aed op. 3 (Our Garden) in 1959 . In 1960, Alfred Uhl wrote If you are lonely, you have it good , a “cheerful cantata” for solos, mixed choir and orchestra based on poems by Wilhelm Busch , Christian Morgenstern and Joachim Ringelnatz . In 1966 Aribert Reimann gave his cantata Verrà la morte based on texts by Cesare Pavese for solos (soprano, tenor, baritone), two mixed choirs and orchestra .

Vincent Persichetti turned to the seasons with two cantatas: in 1963 he composed the Spring Cantata (Cantata No. 1) opus 94, for female choir and piano, and a year later, in 1964, the counterpart: the Winter Cantata (Cantata No. 2) opus 97, for female choir, flute and marimba. Klaus Hashagen created the cantata Giorno per Giorno in 1965 for mezzo-soprano, flute, harpsichord and percussion based on a text by Giuseppe Ungaretti.

The hymn cantata An die Nachgeboren (op. 42) by Gottfried von Eine is named after Bertolt Brecht's poem . The work for mezzo-soprano, baritone, choir and orchestra was commissioned to mark the 30th anniversary of the founding of the UN and was premiered on October 24, 1975 in New York.

Reinhold Moritzewitsch Glière composed in a political and patriotic sense when he composed the cantata Ruhm der Soviet Army for vocal soloists, choir, reciter, symphony and wind orchestras (op. 93, 1953). In 1963 Manfred Kluge dedicated the cantata to a politician in memory of Kennedy . The work On Freedoms Ground , the American cantata by William Schuman for baritone, choir and orchestra with texts by Richard Wilbur from 1985 has a national impact .

With the work Libertas cruciata Max Baumann wrote what he called a dramatic cantata (op. 71, 1963) for solos, narrator, speaking choir, choir and large orchestra.

The sport was thematized by the American William Schuman in the baseball cantata entitled Casey at the Bataus . It is a work for soloists, mixed choir and orchestra from 1976.

By Josef Schelb the 1947 resulting secular cantata originates childhood for soprano and string quartet based on the eponymous poem by RM Rilke. Karl Marx also used poetry in his two cantatas Raube das Licht aus dem Rachen der Schlange , op.57, based on Hans Carossa for baritone solo, mixed choir and orchestra and And yet everything ends in peace , cantata based on words from Friedrich's Hyperion Hölderlin for solos, choir and orchestra. Similar to Werner Egk with his cantata Nachhilfe for soprano and orchestra based on Klabund (1975).

Karl Michael Komma contributed the cantata Die Hütte Gottes in 1977 on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of Ulm Minster . A cantata for female voice and orchestra based on French chanson texts from the XV. Century (1986/88) with the title Quodlibet comes from Mauricio Kagel .

For Reinhard Schwarz-Schilling , who comes close to the tonal language of Johann Sebastian Bach, the work The Message, Cantate (sic!) For mezzo-soprano, baritone, choir and orchestra (1979–1982) became the main work. PDQ Bach alias Peter Schickele shows closeness to Bach, but in a funny way, with his dog cantata “Wachet Arf!” (English the canine cantata Wachet Arf! ). Alfred Schnittke's 1983 fist cantata Be sober and awake ... (for counter-tenor, counter-alto, tenor, bass, mixed choir, organ and orchestra) also refers to Bach's model .

Serious tones can be heard in the cantata by Iván Eröd Vox Lucis (op. 56, 1988/89), who otherwise tends to use a lighter tonal language. In 1989 Evžen Zámečník created the cantata Lachischer Frühling for baritone solo, viola solo, mixed choir and orchestra with texts by Petr Bezruč .

For the most part, ecclesiastical-political cantatas were created by Felicitas Kukuck with De Profundis (1989), Sung on Glowing Coals (1990), And it was: Hiroshima and Swords for Plowshares (1995). Felicitas Kukuck created a piece of music committed to peace ethics with the cantata And it was: Hiroshima. A collage about the beginning and the end of creation . The work was premiered on August 11, 1995 as part of a World Peace Week in Hamburg. In this work, but also in later works, this composer dealt with existential questions at the end of the millennium: with war and peace, with Auschwitz or with Chernobyl .

In a series of cantatas for the main festivals of the church year Wolfram Graf Wachet created (1991) as a cantata for Advent, for children's choir and instruments, Il est né (1992) as a cantata for Christmas, Resurrectio (1993) for choir, soprano, violoncello, Percussion, organ and tape as well as Jesu Meine Freude (1994) as a cantata to the Passion. Also in a spiritual direction has Heinz Werner Zimmermann Thomas cantata ( "O Come, You Spirit of truth") for mezzo-soprano and baritone, chorus and orchestra, premiered in Stuttgart in 1982 in the Leonhard Church through the Gächinger Kantorei (recast 2002).

As Guardini cantata , a work based on texts by Romano Guardini , was Robert Maximilian Helm scrap interpretation of existence for speaker, soloists, choir, two trumpets, string orchestra and organ (1998) is known.

Cantata production in the German Democratic Republic

Ottmar Gerster (left) was able to write cantatas on the memory of heroes (see above) in 1939 in the spirit of National Socialism, while 12 years later - under changed political circumstances - he faced the requirements of the GDR and made the Iron Combine East the subject of his composition in a cantata .

The cantatas by Günter Kochan were important for the music history of the GDR . Are to be mentioned. The world is young . Cantata for mixed choir and orchestra (text by Paul Wiens , 1952), Die Asche von Birkenau . Cantata for alto solo and orchestra (text by Stephan Hermlin , 1965), Aurora . Cantata for female voice, choir and orchestra (text also Stephan Hermlin, 1966) and The Hands of the Comrades . Cantata for baritone and orchestra (text: Giannis Ritsos , 1974). In the early days of the GDR, Ottmar Gerster composed a cantata on the subject of Eisenkombinat Ost (1951). As a composer, Kurt Schwaen designed King Midas , a scenic cantata (KSV 144, 1958). Reiner Bredemeyer wrote several cantatas. In 1959, Ernst Hermann Meyer worked on German history with the cantata Das Tor von Buchenwald . Friedrich Schenker created Cantata I based on a text by Wladimir Majakowski (German by Hugo Huppert ) for baritone and small wind orchestra (1967–1969). Bertolt Brecht's texts served Paul Kurzbach as the basis for his cantata based on Brecht: Everything is changing (1950).

Karl-Rudi Griesbach wrote a cantata with the programmatic title Planetary Manifesto in 1962 . Behind the work are texts by Johannes R. Becher . Hans Jürgen Wenzel's solo cantata with the title Black Ash, White Birds for baritone and string orchestra was written in 1966 and 1967.

There was also sacred cantatas in the GDR. Leipzig in particular was following the old tradition with the cantatas by Johannes Weyrauch . Examples are his Easter cantata , but also the cantata of the kingdom of God and the cantata of love (WeyWV 93a). Peter Dorn was awarded the Hanns Eisler Prize in Leipzig in 1968 for his cantata In Your Hand is written the time . Even Georg Trexler is mentioned. He created a Marian cantata with the Latin title Assumpta est Maria (1957/58).

Cantata compositions from the British Isles

James MacMillan is one of the Scottish composers who, because of their spiritual roots in the Christian faith, devoted themselves to cantatas. Seven Last Words from the Cross is a sacred cantata for choir and strings from 1993.

Cantata compositions from Israel

The cantata genre also took off again in Israel: Josef Tal points to the Jewish festival tradition with a Succoth Cantata (1955) for soprano, alto, tenor, bass, mixed choir and chamber orchestra. The text is from Eleazar Ha'Kalir. Julius Chajes takes the political situation as an occasion when he singles the new state of Israel on the tenth anniversary of the founding of the state (1948–1958) with a speaker, solos and choir with piano accompaniment with the cantata The Promised Land .

In Israel, Menachem Avidom wrote the hymn cantata (1956) on the one hand, and the cantata Twelve Hills (1976) on the other .

Yizhak Sadai has presented various cantatas over ten years: Ecclesiastes as a cantata for alto, baritone and small orchestra was written in 1958, followed a year later by Psychoanalysis , a cantata for alto, tenor, baritone and orchestra. In 1960 Hatzvi Israel followed , a cantata for alto, baritone, mixed choir and small orchestra, and in 1968 Prelude à Jérusalem , a cantata for alto, tenor, bass, two female and two male speakers, mixed choir and small orchestra.

In 1958 Joachim Stutschewsky wrote the songs of radiant mourning , a cantata for speaker, mezzo-soprano, baritone, vocal and speaking choir and orchestra.

On his 70th birthday in 1967, Karel Salmon composed the cantata Chajei adam (German: Ein Menschenleben ) for choir and orchestra. In 1980 Dan Yuhas created The fire and the mountains , a cantata for choir, orchestra and soloists. In 1989 Tzvi Avni wrote the cantata Deep Callet unto Deep for mixed choir, soprano and orchestra or organ.

21st century

Peasant uprising movements of the 16th century move into the focus of cantatas, for example by Hans-Peter Braun, who recalls the movement with a cantata.

Even in the 21st century new cantatas arise v. a. in the field of church music, for example by Hans Georg Bertram , who created a Christmas cantata (2001), an Our Father cantata (2002/2003) and an Advent cantata (2004). The cantata Solang we hope by Dieter Kanzleiter has been released with the striking cast for four speakers, brass ensemble and percussion / drums . In 2006 Frank Schwemmer created the work Spielzeit , a cantata for the opening of a theater season, for four solos, choir, six actors and chamber orchestra (two trumpets, solo violin., Clar. B, Fag., Percussion). This was a commission for the Freiberg Theater.

Hans-Dieter Karras created a cantata on the prophetic figure Isaiah for soprano or tenor solo, choir and chamber orchestra. Klaus Ager deals with the subject of peace in his cantata of the same name for solos and large orchestra op. 33/4 (2002). Detlev Glanert dedicated a Mörike cantata for tenor, choir and orchestra (2003/2004) to the poet Eduard Mörike .

At the suggestion of Stadtsuperintendent i. R. Wolfgang Puschmann ( Hanover ) composed Matthias Drude , Alfred Koerppen , Eckhart Kuper, Pier Damiano Peretti , Hans-Wilhelm Plate, Siegfried Strohbach and Volker Wangenheim “New Cantatas for the Church Year ” based on texts compiled by Ulrich Meyer (Hanover). A selection of 11 of these cantatas were of different choirs Hanover (u. A. Hannover Boys Choir , Girls Choir Hannover , North German Figural recorded) on a double CD ( "Faith songs"), with the ECHO Klassik Award Prize 2010.

A Christmas Cantata The Beginning of a New Era on Words by Hans Krieger for soprano, baritone, choir, children's choir and string orchestra by Graham Waterhouse was first performed in 2011.

Hans-Peter Braun dedicated a cantata with the title Life should not be punitive to commemorate the German Peasants' War . The work (2014) commemorates the southern German peasant movement Armer Konrad in 1514.

Poetry also remains the basis of cantatas in the 21st century. Poems by Christian Morgenstern added Lutz Landwehr of Pragenau to the cantata animal formed for speaker, choir and instruments together (2004).

Cantata forms

Children's cantata

Children's cantatas are cantatas that were created for the vocal range of children's choirs , girls 'choirs or boys' choirs . Sometimes they also contain scenic parts. Sometimes there is an interest in religious education behind children's cantatas . Examples are:

  • Hugo Herrmann : The Child's Joy and Sorrow: Cantata for children's choir and children's orchestra (1948)
  • Margret Birkenfeld created four children's cantatas for the four seasons in 1977 .
  • Peter Hamburger : Come on, we want to live , cantata for children's choir.
  • Günther Kretzschmar created various spiritual and secular children's cantatas from 1970 to 1985.
  • Colin Mawby : Christmas Cantata for Children.
  • Kurt Schwaen : King Midas (1958)
  • Ludger Stühlmeyer composed the children's cantatas Make up, become light (1989) and Jesus in Galilee (1990).
  • Wolfram Graf : Il est ne. Cantata for children's choir (1992).
  • Wolfgang Kleber : Cantata for the harvest festival for children's choir, choir and instruments (premiere 1994)

Blues cantata

The blues cantata works with the stylistic devices of the blues :

Sacred cantata

Many cantatas have either a biblical text or a spiritual chant from the Christian hymn book as a textual basis . This leads to the terms church cantata when the place of performance or the purpose of the performance is in the foreground, but also to genres such as biblical cantata or choral cantata when the text base is to be put in the foreground.

Biblical cantata

Based on texts from the Old and New Testaments , cantatas called Biblical Cantatas were written . Examples for this are:

  • Marco Enrico Bossi : The high song / Canticum Canticorum , op.120 : Biblical cantata in three parts for baritone, soprano, choirs, orchestra and organ.
  • Gustav Flügel : Small cantatas on Christian festivals on biblical texts for mixed voices , op. 70 (Berlin 1871).

Choral cantata

Many sacred cantatas have either a biblical text or a sacred chorale from the Christian hymnbook as a textual basis . If the cantata mainly follows a chorale in its style and content, it is called a chorale cantata. As a rule, the proportion of choral movements is greater here than in other cantatas. The extreme case is the “per omnes versus” cantata, in which all the stanzas of a chorale are processed in the various movements.

In the chorale cantatas of his second cantata cycle in Leipzig, which began after Trinity in 1724, Johann Sebastian Bach referred to exactly one chorale. However, mostly only the outer stanzas of the chorale were used in wording and melody, but the inner stanzas were rewritten to recitatives and arias.

Symphonic cantata and symphony cantata

A symphonic orchestra is more involved in symphonic cantatas and symphony cantatas . The orchestral part usually plays a prominent role. An important example of this is the symphony cantata Lobgesang in B flat major op. 52 from 1840 by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy .

René Leibowitz speaks of a symphonic cantata in his op. 68 . A Prayer - A Symphonic Cantata for mezzo-soprano, male choir and orchestra based on texts by James Joyce was heard in 1965. Heinrich Poos created such a cantata with Emblemata for soloists, choir, speaker, orchestra and tape (1976–1980). Peter Michael Braun also composed a contribution to the sub-genre of the symphonic cantata . Around the turn of the millennium, Die Herrlichkeit Gottes , a symphonic cantata based on texts from the Old and New Testaments (1997/2000) was created. Siegfried Strohbach created his symphonic cantata for Advent with the title Because the Lord is near for solos, choir and large orchestra.

In 2009 Quo Vadis for tenor, choir and large orchestra by the Swedish composer Anders Eliasson was premiered in Stockholm's Berwaldhalle . The seven text passages are more like interludes in a nearly one-hour symphony with seven purely orchestral passages that can be played non-stop . For the composer, the vocal passages are not the main thing. So the instrumental passages do not have any task to support the text, let alone paint it. For Eliasson, the lyrics are “ almost unnecessary. Most likely they serve as a reminder of the central question . ”Although the work does not have a genre, the composer accepts the term“ symphonic cantata ”. Eliasson uses Sumerian, Greek ( Sappho ) and Sufi texts ( al-Hallādsch ) in German translation by Raoul Schrott or from The living word of the anthology with "texts from the religions of the peoples" by Gustav Mensching . Only the central text Quo vadis from the apocryphal Acts of Peter is sung in Latin. After the world premiere of Eliasson's oratorio Dante anarca , the RSO Sweden and the Swedish Radio Choir, at the suggestion of the conductor Manfred Honeck, commissioned the composer to compose a requiem . The result was the almost one-hour “symphonic cantata” Quo Vadis , which can be played continuously . The world premiere took place on May 15, 2009 with the tenor Michael Weinius, the Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester and the Swedish Radio Choir. The performance was conducted by Johannes Gustavsson .

Scenic and dramatic cantata

In the gray area between the musical genres of cantata, opera and musical, the sub-genre of scenic cantata moves to the extent that the music is accompanied by a restrained scenic representation. Examples of the scenic cantata are:

  • Carmina Burana by Carl Orff (1935/1936)
  • Schattenverwandlung , semi-staged cantata by Wolfgang Kleber for soprano, bass, 9 speakers and instrumental soloists, choir, chamber orchestra, organ and percussion on a text by Reinhard Grätz (premiere 1987)
  • Who was Nikolaus von Myra? How a bishop saved his city from famine and saved it from war , by Felicitas Kukuck , was created in 1995 and premiered on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the Hamburg main church St. Nikolai.
  • The legend of the donkey Antonio. Text: Ruth Büssenschütt, music: Ludger Stühlmeyer , for children's choir, singing solo, speaker and instruments (2005).

The genre Dramatic Cantata can be described in a similar way :

  • Heinrich Konietzny created the work Die Toten von Parga in 1963 . He called this work Dramatic Cantata . The libretto is by Karl Christian Müller.


See also


  1. “The church cantata has its place in the main Sunday and feast day service, the“ office ”, after the reading of the Gospel and before the chanting of Luther's song of faith. We all believe in one God . If the cantata was in two parts, the second part was played after the end of the chancellery or when the Lord's Supper was distributed. ”(Alfred Dürr: Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach. Kassel etc. 1971, p. 36f.).
  2. ^ Johann Friedrich Doles, foreword to the cantata 'I come before your face', Leipzig 1790, cited from: Georg Feder, Verfall und Restauration in: Geschichte der Evangelischen Kirchenmusik, ed. by Friedrich Blume, Bärenreiter-Verlag, 1965, 2nd edition, p. 222
  3. Georg Feder, decay and restoration in: History of Evangelical Church Music, ed. by Friedrich Blume, Bärenreiter-Verlag, 1965, 2nd edition, p. 224
  4. Georg Feder, decay and restoration, in: History of Protestant Church Music, ed. v. Friedrich Blume, Bärenreiter-Verlag 1965, 2nd edition, p. 241
  5. Georg Feder, decay and restoration, in: History of Protestant Church Music, ed. v. Friedrich Blume, Bärenreiter-Verlag 1965, 2nd edition, p. 241,242
  6. Georg Feder, decay and restoration, in: History of Protestant Church Music, ed. v. Friedrich Blume, Bärenreiter-Verlag 1965, 2nd edition, p. 260; Feder points to Johann Theodor Mosewius, JS Bach in his church cantatas and choral songs, Berlin 1845
  7. Georg Feder, decay and restoration, in: History of Protestant Church Music, ed. v. Friedrich Blume, Bärenreiter-Verlag 1965, 2nd edition, p. 261
  8. ^ Richard Schaal, The cantatas of the 19th and 20th centuries , in: The music in past and present, Vol. VII, Bärenreiter-Verlag 1958, Sp. 610
  9. ^ Richard Schaal, The cantatas of the 19th and 20th centuries , in: The music in past and present, Vol. VII, Bärenreiter-Verlag 1958, Sp. 610
  10. Fred K. Prieberg : Handbook of German Musicians 1933–1945 , CD-Rom-Lexikon, Kiel 2004, p. 1309.
  11. Michael H. Kater: Die abused Muse , p. 280; The Twisted Muse , p. 146
  12. Adam Adrio, Renewal and Revival , in: History of Protestant Church Music, ed. v. Friedrich Blume , Bärenreiter-Verlag 1965, 2nd edition, p. 324
  13. Evangelisches Gemeindeblatt für Württemberg, edition 19/2014, p. 29
  14. Music for children. Retrieved June 6, 2018 .
  15. CD booklet: Quo Vadis for Tenor, Choir and large Orchestra , cpo 777 495-2, 2011, p. 9