Eighteenth-century solo soprano cantatas: A study of Christoph Graupner’s (1683-1760) style and contribution to this genre

The Baroque composer Christoph Graupner (1683-1760) worked as the Kapellmeister for the Hesse-Darmstadt court from 1709 to his death in 1760. A prolific composer of several genres of music, including operas, concertos, sinfonias and many other instrumental works, Graupner wrote over 1,400 sacred cantatas for use in the court chapel’s weekly services. In this study I will examine a small, but significant, segment of Graupner’s cantata oeuvre; the forty-eight solo soprano cantatas. The purpose of this study is to examine Graupner’s compositional techniques for these cantatas and to report on his progressive style, particularly in regards to stile galant. Using John White’s methodology, a detailed musical analysis of thirteen solo soprano cantatas is given in chapters two and three, along with broader structural and stylistic analysis of all forty-eight solo soprano cantatas. Chapter three also highlights the instrumentation of several solo soprano arias within selected SATB chorus cantatas. Chapter four considers the six sopranos employed during Graupner’s tenure and examines the tessitura and range of a selection of cantatas. Chapter four also investigates the role of the basso continuo in solo soprano cantatas and the influence of opera on Graupner’s cantata compositional style. Chapter five details the performative considerations for the thirteen solo soprano cantatas presented over four public recitals during this study. Performance methodology by Sarah Fuller, Brad Haseman, and Margaret Kartomi is employed in order to reflect on the aspects of both listening and performing the music of Graupner, in a modern twenty-first century setting.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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