Other News of Note

Recently Published:

Paul F. Rice, The Solo Cantata in Eighteenth-Century Britain: A Thematic Catalog (Warren, MI: Harmonie Park Press, 2003).

The solo cantata was largely forgotten about as a genre of music in Britain after the eighteenth century. As a result, the music is little known today. Although one book was previously published which, in part, discusses this repertoire, there has been no catalogue of the works which scholars, teachers and performers could consult to learn more of this vast repertoire.

The cantata was a work for voice and instrumental (either keyboard or instrumental group) which made use of recitatives and airs (arias) set to a narrative text. While early works often made use of pastoral characters, later works began to draw upon real-life situations. There are several works which refer to political situations and, thus, offer a near-immediate musical reaction to current events. Others are more conventionally patriotic in tone. By mid-century, composers began to compose works for use by professional singers in the public concerts of the summer gardens (such as Vauxhall), as well as continuing to produce works which were suited for the more limited abilities of amateur performers. In the process, one can see the cantata genre responding to changing social norms in the country. That such a large body of attractive music has laid fallow for so many years is amazing, and it is hoped that the publication of this thematic catalogue will help re-introduce the music to modern audiences.

There is a connection between this book and the University of Saskatchewan which its author would like to identify. On 10 November 1999, I was delighted to address the Eighteenth-Century Studies Group at the University of Saskatchewan with a paper called "The Cantata in Eighteenth-Century Britain." I fondly remember the warmth of my reception there. When it came time to write the preface to the book, I discovered that I already had much of my work done and, indeed, much of the preface draws upon that
paper.

Paul F. Rice
Associate Professor of Musicology
Memorial University

 


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