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Choral Music Notes - Giacomo Carissimi, Jephte

Contents of this page:

  • Carissimi and the Birth of the Oratorio
  • Notes on the composition of the oratorio, Jephte
  • Translation of the oratorio text
  • Recommended recordings
  • Bibliography
  • Web sites with more information
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    Carissimi and the Birth of the Oratorio

    Giacomo Carissimi's life (1605 - 1674) is distinguished by a spectacular lack of incident. He was born in April 1605 in Marino, a hill suburb of Rome. As a teenager, he joined the choir at Tivoli Cathedral, and became organist by the age of nineteen. Carissimi became maestro di cappella at the church of San Rufino in Assisi in 1628. Then in December of 1629, at the age of 24, Carissimi was offered a teaching post at the German College in Rome and the position of maestro di cappella at the college's church of Sant'Apollinare. He remained in that post for 44 years, until his death in January 1674 in Rome.

    The German College was established in 1552 to train Jesuit priests to serve as missionaries in German-speaking Protestant lands. By the 1570's, under maestri di cappella such as the Renaissance master Tomás Luis de Victoria, the German College developed a following for its music and musicians. By 1608, reports described "cardinals, ambassadors, prelates, etc." attending church services at Sant'Apollinare because of the fine music there, and this reputation was cemented during Carissimi's lifetime.

    In his lifetime, Carissimi apparently displayed extraordinary ability as a composer and musician, matched only by an equally extraordinary lack of ambition. The German College was a highly desirable and stable post, and in his lifetime, Carissimi was known to have turned down at least three offers for major posts elsewhere (including an offer to replace Claudio Monteverdi at St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice after the composer's death in 1643). Because Carissimi never applied for any position after 1629, and because he never felt any need to ingratiate himself with any nobleman, Carissimi never published any of his music in his lifetime. After the Jesuit order was dissolved in 1773 and Napoleon's troops sacked Rome some thirty years later, the German College's official records and manuscripts were destroyed. As a result, we have very little documentation of Carissimi's official duties, and the only compositions that we know about come from copies made by his pupils.

    We do know that Carissimi worked extensively with the growing Congregation of the Oratory. This was a community of lay worshippers organized by Philip Neri in the 1540's. Neri sought to educate and convert the common people with informal "spiritual exercises." These exercises included colloquial sermons and vernacular dramatizations of Bible stories which sought to explain the significance of the story for the laity. The community and its spiritual exercises were soon named for the prayer hall (Italian Oratorio) in which the groups met. Musical dramatizations began to dominate the oratorio around 1600, and these dramatizations began borrowed the techniques of recitative and accompanied aria with basso continuo so that by the 1620's, oratorios became something akin to opera without costumes or stage action. Oratorios were the only music performances allowed during Lent, and this furthered their evolution into music designed to satisfy a public increasingly infatuated with opera.

    Notes on the composition of Jephte

    Oratorios were soon performed in many churches in Rome, but some of the finest were offered in Latin at the Oratorio del Santissimo Crocifisso (Oratory of the Most Holy Crucifix). Carissimi conducted oratorios at Crocifisso in at least four Lenten seasons, probably using musicians from Sant'Apollinare and the German College. Carissimi established himself as a master of the Latin oratorio by 1650, when his finest work in this form, Jephte, was cited in theorist Athanasius Kircher's influential Musurgia universalis for its ability to move "the minds of listeners to whatever affection he wishes." As a result, we know that the oratorio was written by 1649, but we do not have any clearer sense of when it was written, or who compiled its libretto.

    The story of Jephthah is told in the Old Testament book of Judges 10:6 to 12:7. Judges is the history of the settlement of Canaan, after the age of Joshua. Judges preserves the stories of various heroes or "judges" (including Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson) who fight battles to help consolidate the Israelites' hold on the land of Canaan. The Jephthah narrative has three main sections -- Jephthah's origin and rejection by his countrymen, his victory over the armies of Ammon, and his victory over the armies of Ephraim. Carissimi's oratorio restricts itself to the middle story of the battle with Ammon.

    The origin segment describes Jephthah as the son of a man of Gilead and a harlot. Jephthah's father subsequently marries and has additional, legitimate children. These half-brothers drive Jephthah from Gilead and deny him a share in their father's inheritance because of his illegitimacy. He becomes a wandering brigand, and develops into a cunning and skillful warrior. Then, when Ammon threatens Gilead, the tribal elders beg Jephthah to return and lead Gilead into battle, promising him dominion over Gilead in return. Jephthah accepts the offer, and sends emissaries to the king of Ammon to ask why he attacks Gilead. The king of Ammon claims that the land of Gilead is rightfully his, and the Israelites are unwanted intruders. Jephthah recaps the story of the Israelites' wandering through the wilderness, told in the book of Numbers, and God's intervention on Israel's behalf. Jephthah suggests that Gilead rightfully belongs to the Israelites because of God's intervention (much of this argument doesn't seem to have changed much in the last five thousand years).

    Carissimi's oratorio sets an adaptation of the Latin Vulgate text (Iudicum 11:28-40) of Jephthah's war with Ammon. Jephthah rashly swears that if the Lord helps him to overthrow Ammon, he will offer to the Lord as a sacrifice the first person that greets him when he returns home. He leads Gilead to victory over Ammon, and there is much rejoicing. However, the first person to greet Jephthah home is his only child, a virgin daughter. Jephthah rues his impetuous oath, but must carry it out. He grants his daughter's last request, to go into the mountains and bewail her fate. (In Biblical times, all Hebrew women strove to bear children, in the hopes that one of them might be the Messiah. Thus, Jephthah's daughter will die in shame, because she must die childless.) The daughter sings a moving lament, and the oratorio ends with the chorus echoing this sorrowful lament.

    The book of Judges tells one other story of Jephthah, in which the men of Ephraim rise against Gilead in retaliation for the slight of not being asked to take part in the battle against Ammon. Jephthah thrashes the Ephraimites as well, seizing territory up to the Jordan River. He then ferrets out Ephraimite refugees by using the word shibboleth, which the Ephraimites cannot pronounce, as a password required to cross the Jordan.

    Carissimi's setting pioneers many devices that would become the hallmarks of the oratorio form. A narrator (called the Historicus in Latin or testo in Italian) tells the Bible story, often in direct quotation from the original text. Individual characters are portrayed by solo singers, again often quoting from the Bible directly, and using Monteverdi's techniques of recitative (a word-for-word setting with basso continuo accompaniment) and arioso (a more lyrical setting in which phrases can be repeated and more complex musical figures introduced for expressive effect). The chorus portrays various characters participating in the scene, reacting to and commenting on the action at hand. For all its relative brevity (most performances of Jephte last half an hour or less), it does have some exemplary musical depications of prototypical musical moods, including battle scenes, songs of triumph, painful parting, and mournful lament. Carissimi introduces a number of musical devices which illustrate these moods (e.g. the repeat of a gradually descending bass line in the final choral lament to signify mourning, the contrast of untroubled harmonies in the songs of victory with anguished chromaticisms and dissonances in the lament); these musical/rhetorical figures become standard practice in later oratorios.

    However, a Carissimi oratorio does have significant differences from, say, the oratorios of Bach and Handel. (Handel actually set this same episode in his own oratorio; Handel's libretto illustrates some of these differences). For example, later oratorios have a single soloist, usually a tenor, narrate the Bible story. In Jephte, the role of the narrator shifts between three different soloists, and sometimes is even depicted by small groups of two, three, or four distinct voice parts singing at the same time. Moreover, Carissimi's oratorio does not have the long and expressive arias that Bach and Handel used to depict the listener's personal reaction to the events being described. In fact, apart from the final lament, most of the oratorio sets the text with few or no repetitions of the text.

    The librettist of Jephte also altered the Bible story for dramatic clarity; Bach and Handel, for all their operatic arias and dramatic choruses, are much more faithful to the Bible original. Carissimi's text omits laundry lists of city names where such lists fail to advance the story. Additions to the Biblical narrative include a suitably dramatic enactment of the Israelite victory, a song of victory sung by Jephthah's daughter, fleshing out a dialogue between Jephthah and his daughter fleshing out why the oath must be fulfilled, and, most strikingly, a moving lament in which the daughter bemoans her unfortunate plight. The texts are reminiscent of the Biblical Psalms in their depictions of triumph and woeful abandonment.

    The dialogue and lament subtly change the focus of the story. The original story in Judges reads more like a Greek tragedy or a Grimm fairy tale than a Bible story, what with its abandoned son returning as a triumphant hero, only to fall victim to the cruel irony of having his prayers fulfilled (and having to fulfill his own cruel promise in exchange). The texts of the dialogue and lament repeat the word unigenita (only-born), and enlarge upon the image of an innocent child willingly sacrificed for the salvation of a nation and the glorification of her father, who seeks to become king. The same word unigenite is used in the Latin text of the Mass (e.g. the Gloria and the Credo) to describe Jesus, another innocent whose ultimate sacrifice is necessary to achieve his father's greatest triumph and establish an eternal kingdom. Thus Carissimi's alterations turn an Old Testament story into a kind of New Testament sermon, an opera suitable for Lent.

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    Text and Translation

    I have included the Latin in the middle column, with / a / word / for / word / translation in the next row. The right column has a more idiomatic translation, adapted from the New American Standard Bible. The left column includes the role, my guess at the type of musical format, singer disposition, and the section of Judges being paraphrased. Text added to the narrative is left without a Judges citation.

    Thanks to Jim Wilkinson of the Back Bay Chorale for invaluable assistance with the Latin translation.

    solo Alto
    Judges 11:28-30
      Cum / vocasset / in / proelium / filios
    when / called / to / battle / (against) children

    Israel / rex / filiorum / Ammon
    Israel / king / of children / Ammon

    et / verbis / Jephte / acquiescere / noluisset,
    and / to words / Jephthah / acquiesce / refused

    factus / est / super / Jephte / Spiritus / Domini
    made / was / upon / Jephthah / Spirit / of the Lord

    et / progressus / ad / filios / Ammon
    and / advanced / towards / children / Ammon

    votum / vovit / Domini / dicens:
    vow / vowed / to the Lord / saying
    When the king of the children of Ammon

    made war against the children of Israel,

    and disregarded Jephthah's message,

    the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah

    and he went on to the children of Ammon,

    and made a vow to the Lord, saying:

    solo Tenor
    Judges 11:30-31
      "Si / tradiderit / Dominus / filios / Ammon
    if / will hand over / Lord / children / Ammon

    in / manus / meas, / quicumque / primus
    in / hands / mine / whoever / first

    de / domo / mea / occurrerit / mihi,
    from / home / my / will meet / me

    offeram / illum / Domino / in / holocaustum."
    I will offer / him / to the Lord / as / burnt offering
    "If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon

    into my hand, then whoever comes first

    out of the doors of my house to meet me,

    I will offer him to the Lord as a complete sacrifice."

    Chorus à 6
    Judges 11:32
      Transivit / ergo / Jephte / ad / filios / Ammon,
    passed over / then / Jephthah / to / children / Ammon

    ut / in / spiritu / forti / et / virtute / Domini
    so that / in / spirit / strength / and / valor / Lord's

    pugnaret / contra / eos.
    he fought / against / them
    So Jephthah crossed over to the sons of Ammon

    with the spirit, strength, and valor of the Lord

    to fight against them

    Historicus à 2
    solo Soprano 1 & 2
      Et / clangebant / tubae / et / personabant / tympana
    and / sounded / trumpets / and / resounded / drums

    et / proelium / commissum / est / adversus / Ammon.
    and / battle / joined / was / against / Ammon
    And the trumpets sounded, and the drums resounded,

    and battle against Ammon ensued.

    solo Bass
      Fugite, / cedite, / impii, / perite / gentes,
    flee / give way / godless ones / perish / foreigners

    occumbite / in / gladio. / Dominus / exercituum
    fall and die / against / sword / Lord / of Hosts

    in / proelium / surrexit / et / pugnat / contra / vos.
    in / battle / has risen / and / fights / against / you
    Flee and give way, godless ones; perish, foreigners!

    Fall before our swords, for the Lord of Hosts has raised

    up an army, and fights against you.

    Chorus à 6
      Fugite, cedite, impii, / corruite,
    flee, give way, godless ones / fall down

    et / in / furore / gladii / dissipamini.
    and / with / raging / swords / be scattered
    Flee, give way, godless ones! Fall down!

    And with our raging swords, be scattered!

    solo Soprano
    Judges 11:33
      Et / percussit / Jephte / viginti / civitates / Ammon
    and / struck / Jephthah / twenty / cities / Ammon

    plaga / magna / nimis.
    blow / great / beyond measure
    And Jephthah struck twenty cities of Ammon

    with a very great slaughter.

    Historicus à 3
    solo Soprano 1 & 2, Alto
    Judges 11:33
      Et / ululantes / filii / Ammon, / facti / sunt
    and / howled / children / Ammon/ made / were

    coram / filiis / Israel / humiliati.
    in the presence of / children / Israel / humble
    And the children of Ammon howled,

    and were brought low before the children of Israel.

    solo Bass
    Judges 11:34
      Cum / autem / victor / Jephte / in / domum / suam
    when / however / conqueror / Jephthah / to / home / his

    reverteretur, / occurrens / ei / unigenita / filia / sua
    returned / running to meet / him / only-born / daughter / his

    cum / tympanis / et / choris / praecinebat:
    with / timbrels / and / dances / sang
    When Jephthah came victorious to his house, behold,

    his only child, a daughter, was coming out to meet him

    with tambourines and with dancing. She sang:

    solo Soprano
      "Incipite / in / tympanis, / et / psallite / in / cymbalis.
    begin / to / timbrels / and / play / upon / cymbals

    Hymnum / cantemus / Domino, / et / modulemur / canticum.
    hymn / let us sing / to the Lord / and / play / song

    Laudemus / regem / coelitum,
    let us praise / king / heaven

    laudemus / belli / principem,
    let us praise / war / prince

    qui / filiorum / Israel / victorem / ducem / reddidit."
    whom / children / Israel / victory / lead / gave back
    "Strike the timbrels and sound the cymbals!

    Let us sing a hymn and play a song to the Lord,

    let us praise the King of Heaven,

    let us praise the prince of war,

    who has led the children of Israel back to victory!"

    solo Soprano 1 & 2
      Hymnum cantemus Domino, / et modulemur canticum,
    hymn / let us sing / to the Lord / and / play / song

    qui / dedit / nobis / gloriam / et / Israel / victoriam.
    who / gave / to us / glory / and / Israel / victory
    Let us sing a hymn and play a song to the Lord,

    who gave glory to us and victory to Israel!

    solo Soprano
      Cantate / mecum / Domino, / cantate / omnes / populi,
    sing / with me / to the Lord / sing / all / peoples

    laudate / belli / principem,
    praise / war / prince

    qui dedit nobis gloriam et Israel victoriam.
    who / gave / to us / glory / and / Israel / victory
    Sing with me to the Lord, sing all you peoples!

    Praise ye the prince of war,

    who gave glory to us and victory to Israel!

    Chorus à 6
      Cantemus / omnes / Domino,
    let us sing / all / to the Lord

    laudemus / belli / principem,
    let us praise / war / prince

    qui dedit nobis gloriam et Israel victoriam.
    who / gave / to us / glory / and / Israel / victory
    Let us all sing to the Lord,

    let us praise the prince of war,

    who gave glory to us and victory to Israel!

    solo Alto
    Judges 11:35
      Cum / vidisset / Jephte, / qui / votum / Domino / voverat,
    when / saw / Jephthah / who / vow / to the Lord / had sworn

    filiam / suam / venientem / in / occursum, / in / dolore
    daughter / his / coming / to / meet him / in / anguish

    et / lachrimis / scidit / vestimenta / sua / et / ait:
    and / tears / he tore / clothes / his / and / said
    When Jephthah, who had sworn his oath to the Lord, saw

    his daughter coming to meet him, with anguish

    and tears he tore his clothes and said:

    solo Tenor
    Judges 11:35
      "Heu / mihi! / Filia / mea,
    alas / to me / daughter / mine

    heu / decepisti / me, / filia / unigenita,
    alas / you have undone / me/ daughter / only-born

    et / tu / pariter,
    and / you / alike

    heu / filia / mea, / decepta / es."
    alas / daughter / my / undone / are
    "Woe is me! Alas, my daughter,

    you have undone me, my only daughter,

    and you, likewise,

    my unfortunate daughter, are undone."

    solo Soprano
      "Cur / ergo / te / pater, / decipi,
    how / then / you / father / you are undone

    et / cur / ergo / ego
    and / how / then / I

    filia / tua / unigenita / decepta / sum?"
    daughter / your / only-born / undone / am
    "How, then, are you undone, father,

    and how am I,

    your only-born daughter, undone?"

    solo Tenor
      "Aperui / os / meum / ad / Dominum
    I opened / mouth / my / to / Lord

    ut / quicumque primus de domo mea
    that/ whoever / first / from / home / my

    occurrerit mihi, offeram illum Domino
    will meet / me / I will offer / him / to the Lord

    in holocaustum. Heu mihi!
    as / burnt offering / alas / to me

    Filia mea, heu decepisti me,
    daughter / my / alas / have undone / me

    filia unigenita, et tu pariter,
    daughter / only-born / and / you / alike

    heu filia mea, decepta es."
    alas / daughter / my / undone / are
    "I have opened my mouth to the Lord that

    whoever comes first out of the doors of my house

    to meet me, I will offer him to the Lord

    as a complete sacrifice. Woe is me!

    Alas, my daughter, you have undone me,

    my only daughter, and you, likewise,

    my unfortunate daughter, are undone."

    solo Soprano
    Judges 11:36-37
      "Pater / mi, / si / vovisti / votum / Domino,
    father / my / if / you vowed / vow / to the Lord

    reversus / victor / ab / hostibus,
    returned / victorious / from / enemies

    ecce / ego / filia / tua / unigenita,
    behold / I / daughter / your / only-born

    offer / me / in / holocaustum / victoriae / tuae,
    offer / myself / as / whole sacrifice / to victory / your

    hoc / solum / pater / mi / praesta
    but / only / father / my / fulfill

    filiae / tuae / unigenitae / antequam / moriar."
    daughter / your / only-born / before / will die
    "My father, if you have made an oath to the Lord, and

    returned victorious from your enemies,

    behold! I, your only daughter

    offer myself as a sacrifice to your victory,

    but, my father, fulfill one wish to

    your only daughter before I die."

    solo Tenor
      "Quid / poterit / animam / tuam, / quid / poterit / te,
    what / can / to soul / your / what / can / to you

    moritura / filia, / consolari?"
    will die / daughter / to comfort
    " But what can I do, doomed daughter,

    to comfort you and your soul?"

    solo Soprano
    Judges 11:37
      "Dimitte / me, / ut / duobus / mensibus
    send away / me / that / two / months

    circumeam / montes, / et / cum
    I will wander / mountains / and / with

    sodalibus / meis / plangam / virginitatem / meam."
    companions / my/ bewail / virginity / my
    "Send me away, that for two months

    I may wander in the mountains, and with

    my companions bewail my virginity."

    solo Tenor
    Judges 11:38
      "Vade, / filia / mia / unigenita,
    go / daughter / my / only-born

    et / plange / virginitatem / tuam."
    and / bewail / virginity / your
    "Go, my only daughter,

    go and bewail your virginity."

    Historicus à 4
      Abiit / ergo / in / montes / filia / Jephte, et
    went away / then / to / mountains / daughter / Jephthah / and

    plorabat / cum / sodalibus / virginitatem / suam, / dicens:
    bewailed / with / companions / virginity / her / saying
    Then Jephthah's daughter went away to the mountains, and

    bewailed her virginity with her companions, saying:

    aria accompagnata
    solo Soprano
      "Plorate / colles, / dolete / montes,
    bewail / hills / grieve / mountains

    et / in / afflictione / cordis / mei / ululate!
    and / in / affliction / heart / my / howl
    Mourn, you hills, grieve, you mountains,

    and howl in the affliction of my heart!

    solo Soprano 1 & 2
      Ululate! Howl!

    aria accompagnata
    solo Soprano
      Ecce / moriar / virgo / et / non / potero
    behold / will die / virgin / and / not / will be

    morte mea / meis filiis / consolari,
    death my / my children / to comfort

    ingemiscite / silvae, / fontes / et / flumina,
    sigh / woods/ fountains / and / rivers

    in / interitu / virginis / lachrimate!
    on / destruction / virgin / weep
    Behold! I will die a virgin, and shall not

    in my death find consolation in my children.

    Then groan, woods, fountains, and rivers,

    weep for the destruction of a virgin!

    solo Soprano 1 & 2
      Lachrimate! Weep!

    aria accompagnata
    solo Soprano
      Heu / me / dolentem / in / laetitia / populi,
    alas / to me / I grieve / amidst / joy / of people

    in/ victoria / Israel / et / gloria
    amidst / victory / Israel / and / glory

    patris / mei, / ego, / sine / filiis / virgo,
    of father / my / I / without/ children / virgin

    ego / filia / unigenita / moriar / et / non / vivam.
    I / daughter / only-born / will die / and/ not / live

    Exhorrescite / rupes, / obstupescite / colles, / valles
    tremble / rocks / be astounded / hills/ valleys

    et / cavernae/ in / sonitu / horribili / resonate!
    and / caverns/ with / sound / horrible / resound
    Woe to me! I grieve amidst the rejoicing of the

    people, amidst the victory of Israel and

    the glory of my father, I, a childless virgin,

    I, an only daughter, must die and no longer live.

    Then tremble, you rocks, be astounded, you hills,

    vales, and caves, resonate with horrible sound!

    solo Soprano 1 & 2
      Resonate! Resonate!

    aria accompagnata
    solo Soprano
      Plorate / filii / Israel,
    bewail / chldren / Israel

    plorate / virginitatem / meam,
    bewail / virginity / my

    et / Jephte / filiam / unigenitam / in
    and / Jephthah / daughter / only-born / with

    carmine / dolore / lamentamini."
    songs / anguish / lament
    Weep, you children of Israel,

    bewail my hapless virginity,

    and for Jephthah's only daughter,

    lament with songs of anguish."

    Chorus à 6
      Plorate / filii / Israel,
    bewail / children / Israel

    plorate / omnes / virgines,
    bewail / all / virgins

    et / filiam / Jephte / unigenitam / in
    and / daughter / Jephthah / only-born / with

    carmine / doloris / lamentamini.
    songs / of anguish / lament
    Weep, you children of Israel,

    weep, all you virgins,

    and for Jephthah's only daughter,

    lament with songs of anguish.

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    Recommended recordings

    Jephte appears to be the kind of piece that's more studied than performed; there seem to be more web sites for music classes with information about the oratorio than current commercially available recordings. I personally have only been able to get my hands on Helmuth Rilling's relatively old Turnabout recording and Michel Corboz's Erato set. Neither is ideal for choral tuning. I know of recordings with Konrad Junghänel (on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, apparently well regarded in the early music community), John Eliot Gardiner, and Erik van Nevel, but haven't heard any of them myself. Those on a budget can try searching the Berkshire Record Outlet for cut-out, or remaindered, recordings. Quantities of these are limited, and as of January 2003, the recording that I bought there (Michel Corboz on Erato) is sold out.

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    Recommended Reading

  • Dixon, Graham. Carissimi (Oxford studies of composers). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.
    This is a volume currently out of print, devoted to Carissimi's musical output. It has analyses of all of his major confirmed works, including Jephte.

  • Jones, Andrew V. "Carissimi, Giacomo." The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed. Ed. Stanely Sadie. Oxford: MacMillan Publishers, Ltd., 2001.
    There are no biogaphies of Carissimi in print or in the bowels of the Harvard University libraries. Jones did his doctoral thesis on Carissimi's motets, and his multi-page essay for New Grove provides a good introduction to Carissimi's life.

  • Smither, Howard E. A History of the Oratorio, vol. 1: The oratorio in the Baroque era (Italy, Vienna, Paris). Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1977.
    The first of an impressively comprehensive four-volume survey of the history of the oratorio from its Medieval and Renaissance roots to the 20th century. There is a useful chapter with a life of Carissimi and an exploration of his Latin oratorios.
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    For more information:

  • A life of the composer (BBC/New Grove)

  • Analysis of Filia's lament and the choral finale
    An insightful, detailed analysis, taken from a course in music history taught at Arizona State University.

  • Outline on Carissimi
    A bullet summary of Carissimi's life and compositional style, from Charles Nichols, of the faculty of the University of Montana.  

  • Unbound Bible
    A collection of searchable Bibles, in multiple languages and translations. Here you can find the complete story of Jephthah from the Latin Vulgate translation, the King James translation, the Hebrew original, or any of a number of other languages and editions.

  • Libretto to Handel's oratorio Jephtha
    Check here for a copy of the complete libretto to Handel's oratorio of 1752 on the same subject. The libretto alone gives you a sense of the differences between the styles of Carissimi and Handel.  

  • Grove Concise Dictionary on the Oratorio
    A very concise history of the development of the oratorio, hosted on Matt Boynick's Classical Music Pages.

  • A history of the oratorio
    A detailed history, from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1911, which looks at the development of the oratorio from a religious perspective.

  • John Koopman's History of Singing
    A detailed, well written history of singing, with a principal focus on the development of opera. The section on the birth of opera discusses the early roots of aria, arioso, and recitative.
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    Dr. Jimbob's Home -> Classical Music -> Choral Music Introductions -> Giacomo Carissimi -> Jephte
    Last updated: February 7, 2003 by James C.S. Liu

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