Bach Oratorio Essay

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The oratorio originated in Italy, and was considered a musical story based on an Old Testament character from the Bible. Even though Giacomo Carissimi was the father of this genre, with his work Jepthe, the oratorio as we know it today was not developed until later by the hands of Schütz, J.S. Bach, Handel, and Mendelssohn. This paper will discuss the contributions to the genre from these great composers. Before unravelling the contributions of Schütz, it is important to know the background of the genre that directly affected the development of the oratorio: the Lutheran historia. Several historiae date back to the Middle Ages, in reference to the antiphons and responses of the Office. During the Reformation, the term was used specifically…show more content…
In using these chorales, the congregation could take part in the performance by recognizing the melody, humming and perhaps even singing along, turning the performance into a musical worship experience. Bach’s most popular Passion, St. Matthew Passion, was written in 1729, and first performed on Good Friday in the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. The composition is scored for two choirs, each accompanied by separate orchestras and organ. After a few performances, the work was not performed for exactly one hundred years, until Felix Mendelssohn revived it with a performance in Berlin. Following Bach’s Passions, the genre reached the culmination of its development. On the other hand, he also left his mark in the oratorio genre with his Christmas, Easter Sunday, and Ascension Day oratorios. The Christmas Oratorio is comprised of six cantatas intended to be used in six different days during the span of two weeks, starting on Christmas day. The Easter Oratorio was a previously composed cantata that Bach had revised and turned into an oratorio. Last but not least, the Ascension Oratorio was the last work that Bach wrote in this genre. It is worth noting that all three of these compositions were written within, or revised in the case of the Easter Oratorio, within a year of each other, speaking to Bach’s interest of writing in this genre during this

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