Definition of cantata in English:



  • A medium-length narrative piece of music for voices with instrumental accompaniment, typically with solos, chorus, and orchestra.

    • ‘Immediately after Bonhoeffer was jailed, his family sent him a music score of Bach cantatas.’
    • ‘I like the idea of alternating vocal cantatas with instrumental concertos; the variety ensures that the music always sounds fresh.’
    • ‘In 1961, Harris wrote a large cantata on St. Francis's Canticle of the Sun for solo voice and chamber ensemble.’
    • ‘He also performed numerous songs, oratorios and cantatas.’
    • ‘His works include much orchestral music, cantatas, and chamber compositions.’
    • ‘There's much sense in gathering Bach's solo bass cantatas for a single CD.’
    • ‘For the meditative arias and extended choruses, Bach apparently planned to adapt pre-existing music from his cantatas, a parody procedure he often used and one that Koopman, too, has adopted to make his realization.’
    • ‘But in a way that's the real miracle of the cantatas: Bach's music is so centred on the words, and yet still manages to transcend and transform all their limitations.’
    • ‘It must be admitted, however, that one of the most memorable parts of the cantata is the Scherzo interlude, ‘The Flight into Egypt’, for piano alone.’
    • ‘His poetry has been set to music in a cantata by James DeMars called ‘Toto's Say,’ and was also featured in the documentary Birthwrite: Growing Up Hispanic.’
    • ‘Tippett chose W.H. Auden's autobiography ‘Far away and long ago’ as his prose setting, and he cast the work in the form of a Purcell cantata.’
    • ‘At one time, every self-respecting choral society programmed his cantata Hiawatha's Wedding Feast.’
    • ‘It carries a fair part of my CD collection so I can listen to Bach cantatas and Beethoven string quartets as well as BBC News, downloaded from the internet, at the gym, while walking, and on long plane flights.’
    • ‘His works include a cyclic setting of Shevchenko's poetry; operas, including Taras Bulba; art songs and choral works; cantatas; piano pieces; and chamber music.’
    • ‘The music for the cantata Alexander Nevsky was taken from Sergei Prokofiev's score for a movie of the same name which won him popular acclaim but displeased the Soviet government.’
    • ‘The Beethoven Experience is dedicated to broadcasting the entire works of Ludwig Van Beethoven - from the complete string quartets and symphonies to lesser known works such as the folk songs and the cantatas.’
    • ‘It was not unusual for a Baroque composer - such as his father - to adapt a sinfonia from a cantata into a concerto movement, or to take a secular aria and insert it, with a new text, into a sacred work.’
    • ‘Zimmermann even invented a new name for the genre, which he called a lingual, a piece that blends elements of the cantata, oratorio, radio play, journalism, and feature film.’
    • ‘Its repertoire is rich and varied, including a number of difficult and rarely performed musical pieces, opera and ballet music, as well as cantatas and oratorios.’
    • ‘These accounts of Bach's two cantatas for solo contralto will probably upset the period-instrument purists - Craig Smith's conducting of a modern chamber orchestra owes little to recent notions of baroque practice.’


Early 18th century: from Italian cantata (aria) sung (air) from cantare sing.