A History of the Oratorio

Vol. 2: the Oratorio in the Baroque Era: Protestant Germany and England

By Howard E. Smither

415 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 48 illus., 75 music examples

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-3775-7
    Published: April 2012
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-3776-4
    Published: September 2012

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Awards & distinctions

1978 ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award

Written by an eminent scholar in a style that represents American musicological writing at its communicative best, A History of the Oratorio offers a synthesis and critical appraisal so exhaustive and reliable that the serious student of the oratorio will be compelled to look to these volumes as an indispensable source. No work on the history of the oratorio has yet appeared in the English language that is comparable in scope and treatment with Howard Smither's comprehensive four-volume work.

The first part of volume 2 examines in depth the antecedents and origins of the oratorio in Protestant Germany in the seventeenth century. It includes discussions of the Lutheran Historia, sacred dramatic dialogues, and the Lubeck Abendmusiken of Buxtehude. The second part treats the oratorio in Protestant Germany in the early eighteenth century and examines Handel, Reinhard Keiser, and J.S. Bach. The third part considers primarily the English oratorios of Handel. In most sections of A History of the Oratorio, the author has selected for special attention a few oratorios that are representative of each geographical area and period. An exception to this procedure is in the section on Handel in this volume, where all of the composer's English oratorios are treated fully with particular reference to recent specialized Handel studies.

Volume 1, The Oratorio in the Baroque Era: Italy, Vienna, Paris, and Volume 3, The Oratorio in the classical Era, expand and continue the study of oratorio history. Although this series was originally announced as a three-volume study, Smither will conclude with a fourth volume.

Originally published in 1977.

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About the Author

Howard E. Smither is James Gordon Hanes Professor of the Humanities in Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For more information about Howard E. Smither, visit the Author Page.