A musical work including soloists,
a choir and an orchestra. The cantata was
originally a singing form only
(as opposed to the sonata, that was meant for playing). In the 16th century,
the cantata was formed as a piece for recitation of rhymed poetry or a
dramatic rhyming movement, by a single singer accompanied by one instrument
(cantata da-camera). Monteverdi
composed such cantatas but those were considered
inferior to the newly born opera,
which, unlike the cantata, included acting, costumes and stage design.
improved the cantata in the 17th century and
introduced it into the church. Gradually,
he added accompanying instruments, arias
(a solo song), and the string orchestra became
the main accompaniment. Pergolesi
and many others - all wrote numerous cantatas and prepared the rich soil
on which grew a genius - Johann Sebastian
who composed 300 Church Cantatas
and a few secular ones (such as the "Coffee
Cantata"), so diverse and different from
each other, that one cannot grasp the musical capacity manifested in each
and every one. Choirs, soloists, duets
and arias are deployed, and the conclusion
is always with a choral, where everybody present in church sings together.
Instruments vary from one piece to another - Bach wrote for the players
available to him at the time.
After Bach, many composers wrote
cantatas of all kinds: Haydn,
and until the 20th century
composers like Stravinsky
Yet the cantata's climax was in the baroque.