• WordNet 3.6
    • n oratorio a musical composition for voices and orchestra based on a religious text
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Oratorio (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.
    • Oratorio Performance or rendering of such a composition.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n oratorio A place of worship; a chapel; an oratory.
    • n oratorio 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 oratorio The words or text of an oratorio; an oratorio libretto.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Oratorio or-a-tō′ri-ō a sacred story set to music, which, as in the opera, requires soloists, chorus, and full orchestra for its performance, the theatrical adjuncts, however, of scenery, costumes, and acting bring dispensed with.
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
It., fr. L. oratorius, belonging to praying. See Orator, and cf. Oratory
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
It., so called because first performed in the Oratory of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, near Rome, under the care of St Philip Neri (1571-94).


In literature:

He belongs to the Oratorio Society.
"Dorothy on a House Boat" by Evelyn Raymond
I am persuaded it would surprise and please you more than an oratorio or St. Cecilia's day.
"Thoughts on the Religious Instruction of the Negroes of this Country" by William Swan Plumer
Some anthems had been attempted, but no oratorios, and no songs of the secular character.
"The Story of Chautauqua" by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut
She said that she did not question the merits of the German masters in oratorio.
"Villa Eden:" by Berthold Auerbach
Personal ambition is swept away in the success of the song or the oratorio.
"The American Country Girl" by Martha Foote Crow
Most of his oratorios are in the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 5, Slice 3" by Various
The oratorio has already lost its relation to the morning, to the sun, and the earth, but that persuading voice is in tune with these.
"The Voice and Spiritual Education" by Hiram Corson
Saint-Saens has one well-known work, Samson and Delilah, somewhat suggestive of oratorio.
"Woman's Club Work and Programs" by Caroline French Benton
He was also immensely in demand as a recital and as an oratorio singer and as a dramatic reader.
"Great Singers on the Art of Singing" by James Francis Cooke
The oratorio is a mystery or morality in music.
"Rambles in an Old City comprising antiquarian, historical, biographical and political associations" by S. S. Madders

In poetry:

The day landed for the performance.
Men in the Department of Fulfilment inkled
how the town could be destroyed:
the oratorio was prevented.
"The Department of Fulfilment" by Raymond Queneau
There was never any doubt
that his oratorio would start the world ablaze,
uncover rank emotions in all who heard.
Those who sang it became frenzied,
their limbs sliding and slapping as
his notes insisted.
"The Department of Fulfilment" by Raymond Queneau
I hear the annual singing of the children in St. Paul's Cathedral;
Or, under the high roof of some colossal hall, the symphonies,
oratorios of Beethoven, Handel, or Haydn;
The Creation, in billows of godhood laves me.
"Proud Music Of The Storm" by Walt Whitman

In news:

Blanche Moyse Conducts Bach's Christmas Oratorio .
Described by the composer as an opera "in the manner of an oratorio," Semele has something for everyone.
That isn't true, of course, partly because he wrote in other genres, too, including oratorios and operas.
Oratorio di San Giovanni, St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta.
A Concert of Sacred Music and Oratorio Masterpieces.
Burnt Hills Oratorio tackles tricky pieces with enthusiasm .
On this day in classical music: George Friderich Handel 's oratorio "Messiah" received its premiere in Dublin in 1742.
Tulsa Oratorio Chorus genre mash -up a moving work.
Heidelberg University is to continue its tradition of presenting Handel's oratorio, " Messiah ," at 3 pm Dec 9 in the Ritz Theatre.
Where, I said to Thurston Dox, IS this oratorio you recommend.
The Christmas Oratorio, Part 2, in Concert.
From symphonies to oratorios, from ballet to chamber ensemble, you'll get a sneak preview of upcoming classical events in the Triangle and around the nation.
Peninsula Singers presents three performances of Martin Shaw's oratorio "The Redeemer " this weekend for the Lent season.
Oratorio Chorale will perform music by Schubert , Mozart.
2 pm Sunday, Dec 2 Tulsa Symphony, the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus and local high school musicians and singers will take the stage of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center's Chapman Music Hall – at the same time.