This book, first published in 1974, has become the classic study of one of the most popular musical forms in early eighteenth-century France. It not only documents and examines a considerable repertoire for the first time, but it also places the genre in the wider context of both French and Italian baroque musical styles. In uniting the two national styles the cantata was one of the major influences in transforming the seventeenth-century French classical tradition in music into a style that owed much to the Italian baroque, yet retained a distinctive Gallic expression. As well as its musical interest, the French cantata provides an arresting example of the influence of society upon music, and the book commences with a chapter that views the emergence of the form in its social setting. Cantata texts enjoyed a vogue as poetry and this literary aspect is also dealt with in a separate chapter.
This new edition incorporates research by the author and other scholars that has appeared during the twenty years since the first edition, reflecting today's growing interest in French baroque music. It also features a new chapter dealing with the French cantata in performance.