can·​ta·​ta | \ kən-ˈtä-tə How to pronounce cantata (audio) \

Definition of cantata

: a composition for one or more voices usually comprising solos, duets, recitatives, and choruses and sung to an instrumental accompaniment

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A cantata is a work for voice or voices and instruments of the baroque era. From its beginnings in 17th-century Italy, both secular and religious cantatas were written. The earliest cantatas were generally for solo voice with minimal instrumental accompaniment. Cantatas soon developed a dramatic character and alternating sections of recitative (solo singing that imitates the rhythms and tones of speech) and aria, paralleling the simultaneous development of opera. In Germany, the Lutheran cantata almost always involved a chorus. The approximately 200 cantatas written by Johann Sebastian Bach are the most celebrated. After ca. 1750 the cantata gradually declined.

Examples of cantata in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web As part of a three-production virtual concert series, the American Baroque Opera Company will present a recording of Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre’s cantata, Odysseus’ Sleep, with two dancers from the Indique Dance Company. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, "Plan your listening with this round-up of classical concerts in the D-FW area this holiday season," 24 Nov. 2020 Ralph Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem, a cantata published, and first performed, in 1936., "Community News For The Manchester Edition," 6 Nov. 2020 The composer Georges Bizet is said to have commemorated her with a cantata, although it is now lost. Claudine Doury, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Redemption of Rosa Bonheur," 20 Oct. 2020 Harrell’s father, who died when the cellist was 15, happened to be the great baritone and Metropolitan Opera star Mack Harrell, a singer capable of bringing grandeur to Wagner operas and deep compassion to Bach cantatas. Los Angeles Times, "Appreciation: Remembering Lynn Harrell, the singing cellist," 1 May 2020 In a prolific career, Mr. Kingsley wrote a concerto for four Moogs, as well as musicals, operas, oratorios, cantatas, movie soundtracks, and a rock version of Jewish Sabbath services., "His daughter Alisse Kingsley confirmed his death.," 19 Dec. 2019 In a prolific career, Mr. Kingsley wrote a concerto for four Moogs, as well as musicals, operas, oratorios, cantatas, movie soundtracks and a rock version of Jewish Sabbath services. Jon Pareles, New York Times, "Gershon Kingsley, Master of Electronic Sounds, Dies at 97," 15 Dec. 2019 To close, the Kurtags performed an arrangement of the opening movement of Bach’s cantata ‘Gottes Zeit ist Die Allerbeste Zeit,’ which was — how else to put it? David Allen, New York Times, "Marta Kurtag Dies at 92, Sundering a Profound Musical Partnership," 25 Oct. 2019 First Congregational Church invites community members interested in singing in the annual Christmas cantata at the church to join the Sounds of the Season rehearsals that will be held on Thursdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. beginning on Oct. 3. Ramona Sentinel, "News Briefs: Last Friday Live, Free Family Movie Night, more," 27 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cantata.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cantata

1724, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cantata

Italian, from cantare to sing, from Latin

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Time Traveler for cantata

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The first known use of cantata was in 1724

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Cite this Entry

“Cantata.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for cantata



English Language Learners Definition of cantata

: a piece of music for singers and instruments that usually has several parts (called movements) and often has a religious subject


can·​ta·​ta | \ kən-ˈtä-tə How to pronounce cantata (audio) \

Kids Definition of cantata

: a piece of music that features solos, duets, and choruses with instrumental accompaniment and is sometimes based on a poem, play, or story

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Nglish: Translation of cantata for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about cantata

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