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

Francis highlighted all the drama in Mozart’s cantata and never allowed the pace to drag. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Mainly Mozart thrills with a rare Mozart cantata and a well-known violinist," 16 June 2019 Robbins follows quite closely the scenario of Stravinsky’s 1923 dance cantata. New York Times, "Jerome Robbins, the Experimentalist," 10 May 2018 At the beginning, the soul is very remorseful and repenting, but the soul is redeemed throughout the cantata. Patrick Neas, kansascity, "Violinist Augustin Hadelich joins KC Symphony for an eclectic program," 10 June 2018 Scored for soprano, two tenors and orchestra, the 20-minute cantata sounds a lot like Haydn but the dominant voice is Cherubini’s. John Von Rhein,, "Muti leads CSO and Chorus in stirring season finale, Rossini's Stabat Mater," 22 June 2018 David Timm conducted the university’s choir and Baroque ensemble in three cantatas, over and above the 33. James R. Oestreich, New York Times, "A Tribute to Bach on His Own Turf: 33 Cantatas in 48 Hours," 15 June 2018 The concert will open with a cantata by the Bach Aria Soloists’ namesake. Patrick Neas, kansascity, "Violinist Augustin Hadelich joins KC Symphony for an eclectic program," 10 June 2018 The different ensembles formed a cohesive group and gave a powerful performance of Orff’s cantata. Jessica Rudman,, "HSO Wraps Up Masterworks Season With Impressive Collaboratin," 9 June 2018 With its message of hope just beyond the horizon, the cantata has become a staple of Advent church services. Mene Ukueberuwa, WSJ, "A Song of Spiritual Awakening," 23 Mar. 2018

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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Last Updated

23 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for cantata

The first known use of cantata was in 1724

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on cantata

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cantata

Spanish Central: Translation of cantata

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

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