Reference no: EM13540101
1. Although the sacred cantata is associated with Bach and his great works in that genre, the secular cantata was more common. The cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach were the culmination of one hundred fifty years of development of baroque forms. In fact, during his lifetime, new styles were beginning to emerge, adumbrating the classical era. Bach’s own sons were more highly regarded as composers than he. It wasn’t until almost one hundred fifty years after his death (Mendelssohn’s production of the St. Matthew Passion) that his music took on a new significance.
2. Bach’s cantatas were performed as part of the Lutheran liturgy. The Lutheran service was the high point of the week and was an important social event as well as a religious one. It was not uncommon for these services to be more than three or four hours long and include a couple of cantatas as well as chorales and chorale preludes.
3. Stylistically, these choral works didn’t differ from opera. They were not staged, however, and didn’t use costuming or theatrical effects. Except for the text, a listener would have no way of distinguishing between an opera recitative or aria and a recitative or aria from a cantata.
4. It is important for students to understand that the cantata (like the opera and oratorio) developed in Italy and then spread through Europe. There were many important cantata composers throughout the baroque period. Bach’s cantatas are the pinnacle of achievement, but others are worth pointing out. In addition to him and Barbara Strozzi are Luigi Rossi, Giacomo Carissimi, Antonio Cesti, and Alessandro Scarlatti.