Thesis

Graduate recital in vocal performance

In the early eighteenth century George Frederick Handel turned from the Italian operatic tradition and made a deliberate attempt to appeal to the English middle-class audience through the genre of the oratorio. His libretti were in English and were, for the most part, based on Biblical subjects. A typical characteristic of the period, known as contrafacta, is found in “Oh had I Jubal's Lyre” from Joshua of 1747 where Handel borrows from his Psalm Laudate pueri of 1707. Semele (1744) from which “O Sleep, Why Dost Thou Leave Me” is taken, is an example of one of Handel's mythological libretti. Some refer to this work as the first great full-length English opera. The libretto of Judas Maccabaeus is from the apocrypha and the aria “So Shall the Lute and Harp Awake” is sung by an Israelite woman at the beginning of the Feast of Lights in hopes that the strife between her people and Syria would soon cease. There are several qualities which characterize Brahms' Lieder. Among them, his melodic inventiveness and rhythmic variety are of particular note in the Lied, "Madchen". His love for long-breathed, beautiful phrases, quite evident in his song, “Feldeinsamkeit”, is a quality he shared with Schubert. Although his songs were of a higher order than the average German folksong, Brahms did show his deep love for this genre in “Vergebliches standchen” and in “Von ewiger Liebe”, although the latter is far more expansive and contains the sombre side of the composer as well as some aspects of his more genial style. It is these; Brahms' sense of detail and his great melodic gift that makes his songs so endearing to us today. (See more in text.)

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