Genre in 18th-Century Music


Session 1
Friday afternoon, 21 April 2006
1:30–4:30 p.m.
Eighteenth-Century Neapolitan Comic Opera: Production, Convention and Innovation
Michael Robinson, moderator

The “Catechism” of the commedeja pe’ mmuseca in the Early Eighteenth Century in Naples
Paologiovanni Maione
Conservatorio Statale di Musica, Domenico Cimarosa

The analysis of “buffo” librettos destined for the Neapolitan stage in the early decades of the eighteenth century, offer an unedited fissure on the dramatic theory of the genre, revealing reflections that cast broad light on the active debate in those years enveloping the new form of spectacle. Librettists such as Saddumene, Oliva, Federico, Tullio, Mercotellis, Piscopo, and Mariani confided their genuine innovative impulses and volatile ideas within the adroit and pithy notices provided in the prefaces (prefazioni) of the libretto and directed toward the spectators. Addressed to the “polite reader” these remarks confided the labors of the craft and the innovations devised, the anxieties of an unrecognized originality and even theoretical reflections. It is in the last regard that the librettists, reduced to only a few terms in the prefazioni by their involvement in copious responsibilities, even sometimes as proprietors in the industry, reluctantly disclosed the instruments of the trade to the readers, allowing them to sense the fervid debate that shrouded the manifold world of the commedeja pe’ mmuseca. The episodic contents of the prefazioni, although often stifled by ceremonial effusion, became the material of fascinating reflections; fragmentary sparks which alluded to the inner workings of a vast corpus of theatrical techniques, which needed to be discerned by the audience to derive the appropriate comic and dramatic intent. In this paper, we expose and analyze theatrical techniques within the earliest genre of Neapolitan comic opera (commedeja pe’ mmuseca), focusing on the dramatic theory (as it pertains to structure, language, dramaturgy, and style) disclosed by librettists in the prefaces of chosen works. We also incorporate documentary evidence illuminating the complex mechanisms behind the scenes (such as the various responsibilities of librettists as author, impresario and entrepreneur) simultaneous to the initial performances of La Cilla, the first work in the new genre. The utilization of a heretofore unknown legal agreement elucidates the rapport among active practitioners (whether singing masters or actors) in contemporary Naples and suggests a methodology for future research within the study of eighteenth-century comic opera.

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Politics and commedia per musica: Paisiello's Le gare generose between Naples and Vienna
Pierpaolo Polzonetti
University of North Carolina-Greensboro

At the time of the American Revolution, thanks to the reformist positions of Queen Maria Carolina, the kingdom of Naples was among the first European nations to embrace the fledgling nation. It is therefore not surprising that North American subjects were fashionable in Neapolitan opera buffa for about two decades, from Piccinni and Cerlone’s I napoletani in America (1768) to Giovanni Paisiello and Giuseppe Palomba’s Le gare generose (1786). Although the feelings of enlightened Neapolitans toward Revolutionary America were generally positive, the intransience of slavery in America was immediately perceived as highly problematic within both intellectual and artistic circles. The contemporary theatrical culture, primarily Neapolitan opera buffa, assumed a significant role in the representation of American slavery and in documenting its changing European perception. The cultivation of this dramatic theme also underlines the artistic and social links connecting the kingdom of Naples and Austria. This paper examines three interrelated works within the Neapolitan and Viennese milieu which present slavery as the central aspect of the dramatic conflict: the Neapolitan play Pulcinella da Quacquero (1770), the libretto Amiti, e Ontario (1772), written by Ranieri de’ Calzabigi and set by Giuseppe Scarlatti for the Austrian Princess of Auersberg, and the Neapolitan adaptation of the latter, Le gare generose (1786) by Palomba and Paisiello (1786), immediately revised and performed in Vienna. Pulcinella da Quacquero presents an English aristocrat who enslaves the children of an American Quaker. The latter, who preaches against the vices and crimes of the old world, eventually manages to free his daughter and allows her to wed the Neapolitan character Pulcinella. In this context, slavery is presented as a perversion of the ancien régime, which the American Revolution will eradicate. Calzabigi’s Amiti e Ontario more realistically portrays the internal conflict of a Pennsylvanian Quaker (Mr. Dull), who believes in equality and yet exploits Native American slaves on his farm. The act of mercy, through which Mr. Dull frees his slaves, represents the dramatic focal point of this opera. The same can be observed in Le gare generose, which replaces the Native American slaves with Italian ones, perhaps as a result of contemporary anti-immigration propaganda. In Paisiello’s opera, the act of mercy is “extorted” from Mr. Dull by the Italian slave-girl Gelinda by means of a manipulative buffo aria alternating sentimental and comic sections. In the Viennese version of Le gare, this comic aria is replaced by a more serious rondò aria characterized by an unmistakable sincerity of expression and by a power of persuasion that were lacking in the original number. When after this moving piece Mr. Dull declares his intention to free his slaves, the audience does not laugh at him, but applauds his generosity and the accomplishment of his ideal of equality. This comparative analysis of Amiti e Ontario and of the two versions of Le gare generose reveals significant aesthetic and ideological differences between contemporaneous eighteenth-century Neapolitan and Viennese opera buffa.

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I Letterati burlati: Francesco Zini and the Neapolitan Academic “querelle” of the Late Eighteenth Century
Antonio Caroccia
Conservatorio San Pietro a Majella

The literary world of Francesco Saverio Zini (ca. 1770–1803) in its entirety can identify itself with the last period of the commedia per musica, approximately the last third of the eighteenth century. A period in which, on one hand contributes to a progressive bourgeoisness of the genre and on the other ignites the debate among theorists to achieve a recognition of the genre itself. Perhaps the most disseminated episode of this phenomenon is the literary polemic between Saverio Mattei and Ferdinando Galiani regarding the proper intention of didactic theater and on the utilization of the Neapolitan dialect. In this phase of noteworthy ferment among Neapolitan intellectuals, the principals and their artistic philosophies were often times satirized, as for example in Socrate immaginario by Giovanni Battista Lorenzi, and thus debated on the comic opera stage. The perspectives of Zini in his renderings of such cultural phantasms can be placed entirely within this mode of approach, as can be demonstrated through an analysis of his libretti. In this paper I examine several of Zini’s libretti not only to illuminate his artistic attitudes, but also to gain insight into the contemporary polemic and inner workings of Neapolitan intellectual life. In particular, I analyze Studente (Naples, 1785) in which the clever but ignorant Roccogiulio has returned home, only to be betrayed by Laura, Artemisia and Stella, whose dishonorable actions are conveyed through traditional lazzi and related comic topoi. I also examine Ritratto (Napoli, 1784) and Il poeta di campagna (Naples, 1792), which make use of many themes of realism and elements appropriated from popular theater. A final libretto, Accademici della villa (Naples, 1801), places in satire the musical instruction given in aristocratic residences through the mechanics of tedious language.

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Giambattista Lorenzi (1721–1807) and Neapolitan Comic Opera in the Late Eighteenth Century
Anthony DelDonna
Georgetown University

The vibrant tradition of the comic opera libretto continued to flourish and diversify in late-eighteenth-century Naples. The contributions of individuals such as Giambattista Lorenzi revealed not only continuity to past practices, but also engendered new ideas and innovations within the tradition whether literary or musical. An actor and poet, Lorenzi first achieved distinction as a performer in improvised comedies staged as private performances for the Neapolitan nobility. Lorenzi’s subsequent successes as a librettist lead to his appointment as the Regio Revisore Teatrale by King Ferdinand IV in 1768. In this capacity he was entrusted with the direct supervision, creation and/or choice of comic works, performers, and genres staged in the theaters of the Bourbon capital. As a dramatist, Lorenzi’s approximately thirty productions were models of contemporary practices and included innovative works such as Socrate immaginario (1775; with Paisiello) and Nina, o sia La pazza per amore (1789; Paisiello). Lorenzi’s cultivation of the one act comedy (generally referred to as farsa) helped to establish it among the variegated forms of Neapolitan comic opera in the latter part of the century and to attract collaborations with composers such as Paisiello, Piccinni and Cimarosa. In this paper, I will discuss the series of one-act comedies (Li due gemelli, La Scuffiara, La finta zingara and Le sventure fortunate) created by Lorenzi for the 1784 and 1785 Carnival celebrations in Naples. The study of these works will demonstrate the innovative characteristics of the genre and determine whether an archetypal structure of traits and/or stimuli existed for Lorenzi’s comedies. An aspect of considerable significance is the identification of topoi within the libretti derived from other comedic genres that influenced content. The examination of the selected operas not only reveals how the one act comedy synthesized characteristics and typologies, past and present, from parallel traditions, but also establishes a close rapport to Naples itself. These comedies exemplify, moreover, Lorenzi’s important collaborations with contemporaries (whether composers or singers of the era) and significant contributions to the repertoire, which lay emphasis on the continuing originality present in Neapolitan comic opera of the late eighteenth century.

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Session 2
Saturday morning, 22 April 2006
9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Genre and Vocal Music
Bertil Van Boer and Dorothea Link, moderators

Domesticating Opera: the Publication of Opera Partbooks in England, 1706–1712
Richard Hardie
Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

John Walsh (?1665–1736) and his associates dominated completely the printing and publishing of music in England during the first half of the eighteenth century. Yet in terms of Walsh’s contribution to the music industry at that time one genre stands out: his collections of instrumental partbooks, issued for all but two of the operas performed in London between 1706 and 1712. Surprisingly, the uniqueness of these publications has been frequently misjudged or ignored. One study has even gone so far as to dismiss the partbooks as “scarcely practical.” (See Winton Dean and J. Merrill Knapp, Handel’s Operas, 1704–1726 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), 204.) These publications, however, are important on several levels: they were prepared principally for a market of amateur musicians; they were designed to accommodate a variety of performing situations; and perhaps most importantly, some of the partbooks contain the only extant instrumental accompaniments and independent instrumental music for operas staged in England between 1706 and 1712. Based on a thorough examination of primary sources, this paper introduces new evidence concerning the form and function of Walsh’s opera songbook and partbook publications. Far from being impractical, the volumes were carefully planned, and contributed in part to the popularity of amateur music making in England by making available some of the most celebrated music of the day in cheap and usable formats. This genre, therefore, deserves to be recognized more widely for its contribution to the social fabric of England during the early eighteenth century.

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“Greatly inferior” Entertainments: Opera and Genre in Eighteenth-Century London
Michael Burden
New College, Oxford

It is an oft-repeated and easily substantiated adage that London audiences were ambivalent about opera; it involved castrati, it was a luxury, and was “foreign.” And, yet, far from indifferent, they were the first to complain when the season did not measure up. Such a mantre also disguises the curious fact that one of the most popular operas in England, Arne's Artaxerxes, was not an English opera, nor was it an Italian one, but an adaptation and a translation into English of a work by Italian librettist living in Vienna, set to music by an English composer whose style was an amalgam of Italian and English elements. Exactly how did this reflect English operatic taste? Using new research into the London pasticcio, substitute arias, and opera libretti, this paper returns to issues of opera and genre. It focuses on the London opera repertoire of the late 1750s and and early 1760s, and re-examines the expectations of the London opera going public and how the process of preparation was tailored to meet those expectations.

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Escaping the Wagnerian Lens: Hiller’s Singspiele and the Public Sphere
Estelle Joubert
University of Oxford

Our modern understanding of the Singspiel as a genre has been shaped not by eighteenth-century principles but rather by nineteenth-century notions of the music-drama. In contrast to a later through-composed ideal, J. A. Hiller’s comic operas, often viewed as the prototype of the German comic genre, were designed precisely in order that the songs might easily be detached from the spoken dialogue, disseminated outside of the public opera house and sung by audiences in various other contexts. The expressed purpose for these songs, as articulated by the librettist C.F. Weisse, was to promote communal singing in social circles across Germany. The genre is thus designed for dissemination within what Habermas describes as the bourgeois public sphere: a conceptual space between the state and private home in which texts, ideas, and musical works were circulated and debated. Composed “im Volkston” (in the manner of the Volk), Hiller’s melodies are recounted as being sung and played throughout the streets and parks of major German cities and became so popular that they became known as folksongs. This idea of the Volk and of Volkston, however, was rooted in a deeper sense of the public as nation. Inspired by Le devin du village and Rousseau’s writings on politics, language and the fine arts, Weisse and Hiller’s operas employ the pastoral mode, in which idealized peasants sing in the manner of a folksong. The idyllic simplicity of these early German language comic operas appealed to a diversified German audience affirming their roots, the public use of their language, as well as their morally upright character as a nation. Thus, the Singspiel as a genre was circulated within the public sphere with the intention of transcending the boundaries of social class to unite the German nation in song.

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Session 3
Saturday afternoon, 22 April 2006
2:00–5:00 p.m.
Genre and Instrumental Music
Michael Ruhling and Philip Olleson, moderators

What’s in a Name? C.P.E Bach, Aly Rupalich, and the Genre of Musical Portraiture
Joshua Walden
Columbia University

Between 1754 and 1757, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach composed twenty-four character pieces for solo harpsichord. Of these typically brief, simple works in variants of rondo form, most are musical portraits that Bach named after individual people, giving them monikers such as La Caroline and La Gleim. Although a musical portrait cannot, of course, project a distinct likeness, because it has no visual component, its title, referring to a person’s name, inspired listeners to experience the piece as a representation of a sitter. In this paper, I address the nature of the genre of musical portraiture by situating it in the context of eighteenth-century theories regarding portraiture in the visual arts, and the correlations between music and painting. I also discuss the mediating function of the titles that stand at the interface between the listener and Bach’s musical portraits, and the ways in which they compel the listener imaginatively to picture the people portrayed in the music. With an understanding of the way C.P.E. Bach’s character pieces operate as musical portraiture, I analyze L’Aly Rupalich (La Bach), thought to depict Bach himself or a member of his family, as a musical portrait in which Bach portrays his subject in the act of composing. Bach’s pieces in the genre of musical portraiture reveal their richness when they are perceived in an act of analysis that, according to Enlightenment ideals of portraiture, is guided by the pursuit of the music’s depiction of the sitter’s inner character.

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C. P. E. Bach’s Sonatinas for Keyboard(s) and Orchestra
Stephen C. Fisher
The Packard Humanities Institute

In 1762–64 Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach composed twelve works for one or two keyboards and orchestra that he designated “sonatinas.” These are suite-like pieces of two or three movements based on dance forms, often employing pre-existent material. Bach published three of them, and there are other indications that he intended them for amateur performers. The sources reveal that Bach continued to revise these pieces long after their composition. The most spectacular example of this is the D major work Wq 109 / H 453, composed in 1762. Originally it was scored for single keyboard, two flutes, and four-part strings, with an undemanding solo part; all the sections were based on earlier keyboard or chamber works. By the end of Bach’s life, through numerous revisions he had expanded the scoring to the largest in his instrumental works: two keyboards, two flutes, two oboes, bassoon, two horns, three trumpets, timpani, and five-part strings. The keyboard parts are much more demanding than those of the original version, and there is a good deal of alternation between the keyboards and the orchestra. New sections not based on earlier models have been added, and sections based on earlier works have been omitted or rewritten with varied reprises and new material inserted. The work is now more like a concerto than a suite. Bach altered at least half, and probably all, the sonatinas to a greater or lesser degree. This helps explain why previous commentators have had difficulty categorizing these works: not only do they not completely fit into any established genre of the period, but Bach’s conception of them changed dramatically over two and a half decades.

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Capriccio in the Symphonies of Antonio Rosetti: Meaning and Significance
Sterling E. Murray
West Chester University

The term capriccio occasionally is encountered in ensemble instrumental music of the late eighteenth century as a generic or stylistic identifier. Most typically, it is found in combination with a tempo designation for a single movement within a symphony. The precise meaning and significance of the term capriccio within this particular context remains unclear. To the theorists of the period, capriccio conveyed several different meanings, with the only common agreement being that application of the term signified a special musical situation. Implicit in most definitions was a general notion of expressive freedom. By the last two decades of the century, however, the designation capriccio seems to have taken on a somewhat more explicit meaning. For Koch, the term indicated a musical context in which the composer was not bound to the conventions of form and tonality, but rather was free to explore non-traditional structural and tonal directions. No matter what the specific manner of identification, it seems certain that by the end of the century a composer’s use of the term capriccio signaled musical gestures that would be considered non-conventional, unexpected, and in some manner disruptive to the predictable patterns anticipated by the listener. This paper examines the application of the term capriccio in the symphonies of Antonio Rosetti (ca. 1750–1792). Of more than twenty symphonies that Rosetti composed for the Hofkapelle of the Prince of Oettingen-Wallerstein, the term capriccio appears in only five. These five works were composed during the period from 1780 to 1787 when the Wallerstein orchestra was at the height of its powers. In each instance, capriccio appears in the final movement, where it is joined to a conventional tempo marking. Features of both style and structure common to all five movements are considered to discern what Rosetti might have had in mind in drawing on this term to identify these particular movements. Three wind partitas by Rosetti’s Wallerstein colleague, Paul Wineberger, which also employ this term, are measured against the conclusions drawn from the investigation of the five symphonic movements by Rosetti. Finally, a possible model for Rosetti’s use of capriccio is considered in symphonies of Joseph Haydn. The Prince of Oettingen-Wallerstein was especially fond of Haydn’s music, which was frequently performed at court. Rosetti had ample opportunity to become well acquainted with the work of the Esterházy Kapellmeiser and considering his patron’s clear preference for Haydn’s music, it would be understandable that he seek models of composition in this body of music.

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When is a Serenade a serenade?
Andrew Kearns
Clemson University

Central to the problem of identifying works of the eighteenth-century serenade repertory is the proliferation of titles and terminology associated with the practice of serenading. Eighteenth-century musicians defined musical genre as much by a work’s social function and place of performance as by the “internal” characteristics of instrumentation, musical structure, style, and individual titles that play such an important role in modern concepts of genre. This paper traces the definitions and use of terms such as serenata, cassatio, notturno, divertimento, partita, mattinata, aubade, huntsup, Ständchen, Nachtmusik, and Finalmusik, in theoretical and personal writings and as applied to musical compositions, to show how they relate to several genres or sub-genres of the period: the lover’s serenade, the instrumental or vocal serenade performed in honor of an individual, the dramatic or theatrical serenade, the chamber serenade or notturno, the vocal notturno, and the depiction of the lover’s serenade in titled scenes in opera. While this investigation shows that some distinctions can be made when analyzing the surviving repertory in light of eighteenth-century understandings of these terms, they often have limitations for identifying individual serenades without other contributing factors, such as comparison to works of a known local repertory. Finally, the emergence in the early nineteenth century of a genre of light chamber music circulating under the title Serenade is reflected in both theoretical writings and the surviving repertory, and is probably related to the decline of the serenade as an occasion to honor individuals, a result of social and musical changes in the late eighteenth century.

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Session 4
Sunday morning, 23 April 2006
9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
A Miscellany of Genres
Jane Hettrick and Paul Corneilson, moderators

The German Songbook in Colonial America
Timothy Sharp
Rhodes College

From the middle of the eighteenth century the domestic popularity of keyboard instruments had created a new musical genre. The public hunger for combined keyboard-vocal pieces for private consumption led to published collections unique in style, form, and content. The prolific composition and subsequent publication of these collections of both vocal songs and keyboard pieces proved to be a creative genre for composers as well as a profitable one for publishers. These published keyboard-vocal collections flourished in mid-eighteenth-century Germany, and arrived in the American colonies in the private collection of John Herbst, Moravian composer, educator, and collector.

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Chorale Genres in Telemann’s Liturgical Passions
Jason B. Grant
University of Pittsburgh

During his forty-six-year tenure in Hamburg, Georg Philipp Telemann composed forty-six liturgical Passions, of which twenty-two are extant. These works contain a mixture of genres: biblical narration and chorales (from the tradition of the Lutheran historia), arias, several types of poetic recitatives, and choruses (from the operatic and oratorio traditions). In his early Hamburg years, the chorales in Telemann’s Passions were exclusively in the cantional, or homophonic style. Furthermore, the texts were standard chorale texts from the Hamburg Gesangbuch. This kind of chorale had replaced the chorale aria, usually set for one voice and continuo, before Telemann arrived in Hamburg in 1721. In several of the Passions from the 1750s and 1760s, Telemann introduced a variety of pieces that resemble the old-fashioned chorale aria in voicing, instrumentation, and texture; the texts, however, are new poems added by the librettists. This blending of new poetry and an archaic chorale genre is one of the most intriguing aspects of Telemann’s late Passions. My paper explores the chorale genres that Telemann used in his late liturgical Passions, drawing especially from the 1759 St. Mark, 1760 St. Luke, 1765 St. John, and 1766 St. Matthew Passions. I show how these pieces function locally, within each individual Passion, and how they relate to broader developments in Telemann’s theatrical vocal music of the 1750s and 1760s, especially the 1755 setting of Ramler’s Der Tod Jesu. Finally, I show how Telemann’s blending of genres in his late vocal works figured into the aesthetic climate of the mid to late eighteenth century, which favored new poetry and eschewed liturgical texts in Passions in particular and the oratorio in general.

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Villancicos, Cantadas, Arias, and Tonadas: Making Sense of Italianized Spanish Genres in the Eighteenth-Century
Drew Edward Davies
University of Chicago

As Italianate musical styles diffused in the first half of the eighteenth century, music in the Spanish world gradually adopted controversial “modern” means of expression in lieu of traditional seventeenth-century forms. This entailed not only the adoption of Italianate conventions such as the recitative and da capo aria, but also the redefinition of both the instrumental forces employed by musical chapels and the poetic forms used as lyric texts. One result of this stylistic transformation was a mixture of Spanish and Italianate descriptors of genre, an issue yet to be untangled by scholarship. Indeed, the standard distinction between villancicos and cantadas based merely upon the number of voice parts fails to recognize the essential differences in aesthetic goals between these genres, both of which served as vernacular epilogues to liturgical responsories in matins services. This paper uses repertoire from Spain and New Spain to argue that villancicos, including those written in Italianate musical styles, relied poetically on “baroque” neo-Platonic conceits typical of seventeenth-century Spanish works, whilst cantadas reflected the translation of Italianate poetic conventions, above all Metastasian forms, into Spanish. Whereas villancico texts tended to dramatize collective festivity, often simultaneously in earth and heaven, cantadas dwelled on personal expression and interior devotion. Although some contemporaneous critics rejected the more theatrical Italianate style as inappropriate to the church, the aesthetic goals of the cantada actually paralleled those of Catholic reformers, and thus the stylistic change occurred not only because of elite international fashions, but also because of changes in devotional practice.

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The Composing of “Musick” in the English Language: The English Cantata, 1700–1745
Jennifer Cable
Universiity of Richmond

“Those who are affectedly partial to the Italian tongue, will scarce allow Musick to speak any other; but if reason may be admitted to have any Share in these Entertainments, nothing is more necessary than that the words should be understood, without which the End of Vocal Musick is lost.” Thus wrote the poet John Hughes in his preface to Johann Christoph Pepusch’s Six English Cantatas Humbly Inscribed to the most Noble Marchioness of Kent, published in 1710. Pepusch’s volume of cantatas for voice, continuo and obbligato instruments (with texts by Hughes), set out to achieve a “better correspondence… between the two Sister Arts”; those of music and poetry. This synergy was to be found in the recitative-aria format of the Italian cantata already popular in England, and it was the cantatas of Alessandro Scarlatti, together with those by Stradella and Bononcini, which most influenced the English-language cantata genre in its earliest stages. Early examples of the English cantata include works by Eccles, Pepusch, and Daniel Purcell. Other sets of English cantatas by Galliard and Purcell followed Pepusch’s publication of 1710, and Pepusch published a second set in 1720. At that time, the form still followed the Italian model, alternating recitative and da capo aria, with the use of stylized texts and limited fioratura. During the 1720s and 1730s, Henry Carey published several sets of English cantatas, though his work began to shift away from the Italian cantata model. John Stanley, also composing English cantatas in the 1730s and 1740s, began to alter the recitative–da capo aria form. For example, in Stanley’s Opus 3, published in 1742, the final aria in Teach me Venus is not an aria at all, but a strophic song with a simple chordal accompaniment. My paper examines the development of the eighteenth-century English cantata beginning with cantatas composed “after the Italian manner” by Eccles, Purcell, and Pepusch, to later cantatas by Carey and Stanley, covering 45 years of development within the genre.

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