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The Baroque period Essay

The Baroque period was a point in time that describes the style and manner of music in Europe that extended through the years spanning from 1600-1750 C. E. (Sartorius, para. 1). The term Baroque was initially mainly used as a description of art rather than the music until the 20th century. During this era, two main musical classes were dominant, the oratorio and the opera.

This article explores the similarities and differences between the two genres as well as tries to note whether all famous composers wrote both genres or were specific in their writing A striking similarities in the two genres existed and centers mainly around the time they came up. Both genres flourished and saw increased performance in the 17th century. Both genres employed the use of drama in their performance and could thus be described as vocal pieces aimed at narrating a story (Grier, pp. 302)

Though the two genres share similarities, their differences are also pronounced. The oratorio lacks stage performance and does not rely upon the use of costumes during presentations, a defining feature of operas. Also, while the operas are mainly secular, the oratorios are mainly sacred in their context hence their name that means”prayer hall”. While operas almost always have a lead, oratorios rely heavily on use of chorus singers. The oratorios also relatively had a lot of recitations, something the operas did not share.

While some famous composers such as Daniel Purcell writing oratoris such as Magnificant and Nunc Dimittis as well as Batch Sebastian famed for his oratorios such as libretto seemed to stick to one genre of music in their writing, some wrote both the operas and the oratorios. An example is the composer Giovanni Battista Bassani who had a set of 13 oratorios including L’Esaltazione di S Croce, 1675 and IL mistico Roveto, 1681 and he also composed 13 operas most of which cannot now be traced save for Gli amori alla moda.

Handel Georg, arguably only second to Batch in composition also wrote operas and oratorios such as Judas Maccabeus and the Messiah (Gonzales Et Al, pp. 135). Work cited: Gonzales, Et Al, Mapeh in Action Iv’ 20. Manilla: Rex Bookstore, Inc. , 2008. Grier, James Don Neville, Salieris Partion. Early Music, XXIX (2): 302-304, 2001. Retrieved on 4th May 2010 from <http://em. oxfordjournals. org/cgi/pdf_extract/XXIX/2/302>. Sartorius, Michael. “BAROQUE MUSIC: historical and geographical context. ” 17 May 1994. Retrieved on 4th May 2010 from: <http://www. baroquemusic. org/barcomp. html>.


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