American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A musical composition for voices and orchestra, telling a sacred story without costumes, scenery, or dramatic action.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A place of worship; a chapel; an oratory.
- n. A form of extended musical composition, more or less dramatic in character, based upon a religious (or occasionally a heroic) theme, and intended to be performed without dramatic action and scenery. The modern oratorio and opera both date from the musical revolution in Italy, about 1600, and were originally indistinguishable from each other, except that one was sacred and the other secular in subject. Both employed the same musical means, such as recitatives, arias, duets, choruses, instrumental accompaniments and passages, and at first even dancing also (for which see
opera), and both were dramatically presented. But before 1700, particularly in Germany, the oratorio began to be clearly differentiated from the opera, in the relinquishment of dramatic action and accessories, though not usually of dramatic personification, in the more serious and reflective treatment of both arias and choruses, and in the freer use throughout of contrapuntal resources. The oratorio, therefore, came to belong essentially to the class concert music, with more or less of the qualities of church music. The true oratorio style has never been popular in either Italy or France, but has had a remarkable development in both Germany and England. The strong predilection which existed before 1600 for passion-plays led in Germany directly to the cultivation of what is called the passion-oratorio or passion-music, the theme being the passion and death of Christ, and the whole work being conceived from a decidedly liturgical standpoint. The most famous example of this style is the “Passion according to St. Matthew” of J. S. Bach. In England the works of Handel in the early part of the eighteenth century initiated an interest in the concert oratorio which has been constant and wide-spread. The method of treatment of the English oratorio has varied considerably, from the epic and contemplative to the representative and dramatic, with more or less of the lyrical intermingled. While the oratorio style in general has seldom attained to the passionate intensity and complexity of the opera, it has outstripped the latter in the expression of the lofty spiritual emotions connected with religious thought. Its independence of theatrical limitations has made possible a far more free and elaborate handling of the chorus as a separate artistic means, so that most oratorios are essentially choral works. The oratorio has never occupied the same position of social importance as the opera, but it has perhaps contributed more to the world's store of new artistic conceptions.
- n. The words or text of an oratorio; an oratorio libretto.
- n. music A musical composition on a religious theme; similar to opera but with no costume, scenery or acting.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Mus.) A more or less dramatic text or poem, founded on some Scripture nerrative, or great divine event, elaborately set to music, in recitative, arias, grand choruses, etc., to be sung with an orchestral accompaniment, but without action, scenery, or costume, although the oratorio grew out of the Mysteries and the Miracle and Passion plays, which were acted.
- n. Performance or rendering of such a composition.
- n. a musical composition for voices and orchestra based on a religious text
- From Italian oratorio ("oratorical"). (Wiktionary)
- Italian, after Oratorio, the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri at Rome, where famous musical services were held in the 16th century. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“These "sacred actions" or plays were not performed in the church itself, but in an adjoining chamber, called in Italian "oratorio," an oratory, and the title has since then adhered to this species of sacred work.”
“This work due to its setting to music by Mikis Theodorakis as an oratorio, is a revered anthem whose verse is sung by all Greeks for all injustice, resistance and for its sheer beauty and musicality of form.”
“The oratorio is arranged in 15 distinct sections meant to parallel the structure of a passion play.”
“For example, Frank Martin's adaptation of the Tristan and Iseut legend in oratorio form Le Vin Herbé.”
“What becomes portable, therefore, in subsequent performances of the oratorio, is its ability to call forth the anxious spectre of French aggression and the supposedly dire consequences of political apostasy or reform.”
“I have a voice, and I came over to England two years ago to study English, so that I might sing in oratorio at the Albert Hall.”
“Although the name oratorio was not applied to the new form until sixty years later (Andrea Bontempi, 1624-1705), there is an unbroken tradition connecting the exercises established by St. Philip with the period when the new art-form received its definite character.”
“Susannah Cibber, who gained considerable fame as a singer in oratorio before becoming an acress.”
“Hiller, who had written additional accompaniments to the oratorio and translated the English words into German, had received an invitation from the committee, and easily persuaded Chopin to accompany him.”
“Florence group of aristocratic truth-seekers in art, who wrote the text of the first religious musical dramatic composition to which the name oratorio became attached.”
These user-created lists contain the word ‘oratorio’.
A complete Barron's Wordlist for GRE preparation. Your online flashcard replacement.
Words only (I left out the expressions) from Geza Kerenyi's EN-HU interpreters' dictionary. Most of them pose some difficulty when interpreted between HU and EN in either or both directions.
Words as I learn them.
Words taken from Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow.
Words I missed when practicing for the Spelling Bee
Started off as names of musical pieces and miscellaneous music terms, now broadened to dance and theatre. (May recategorize this to finer details.)
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