Choir music

choir music is vowel music, which is sung by a choir. Choir music can be unanimous or mehrstimmig, either with instrument valleys company or A cappella, which choir music without independent company means.

Often groups of singing occupied with laymen, there are choirs in the today's sense, thus large, onlysince that 19. Century. Most the late baroque ago vowel music developed was specified according to today's music-scientific realizations solistisch, applies today however by the later performance tradition often than „choir music “.

Table of contents

the Middle Ages

already in late ancient times developed a kindthe lecture and the common singing of certain texts of latin fair, which linked ever more certain unanimous melodies with certain texts. Under Pope Gregor I. these singing was collected and kanonisiert to today the Gregorian Choral so mentioned (Gregorianik).

From the originally pure unanimity developeditself in the course of the early Middle Ages by Oktavführung, later also Quint - and quart parallel guide (Organum) the first Mehrstimmigkeit. The pure parallel guide was given up later, those temporally same organization of the music remained however still another time long.

Because itself the individual voicesalso rhythmically from each other, became necessary different systems of the notation emanzipierten. After a first „Modalsystem “, which was still strongly ajar against the antique verse mass, followed against 1280 with that of acre antiqua a first Mensuralsystem, in which the clay/tone lasting were characterized by numbers, those conditionsthe Notenwerte among themselves indicated. In 14. Century brought acre the further innovations and refinements of the metric system, in addition, new kinds and forms to new facts. Those of acre formed the conclusion of the epoch subtilior, which drove the refinement and complication on the point, to itself with thatBeginning 15. Century a completely new style interspersed.

The allocation of being correct was at that time still another completely different one than today. Main voice was the tenor, to which as dissenting vote „a retort tenor was confronted “. In addition usually a deeper bass voice came. Higher voices became than „Cantus “or „these Kant (US) “designation, also the being correct designation „alto (US) “meant, derived from lat. „altus “= „highly “, originally a high man voice.

the A-cappella-style of the Renaissance

with Guillaume you in the early epoch of the franko flämischen music are to Fay alreadycompletely textierte dreistimmige sentences. For instance starting from the Innsbruck song of Heinrich Isaac (approx. 1450 - 1517) can of a mehrstimmigen A-cappella - sentence to be spoken.

In the Renaissance music A did not mean cappella by any means that no instruments could be used. Meant it was rather that all voices completely textiertwere, so that no instruments were necessary, in order to occupy the sentence adequately. General agents of this music form were Giovanni Pierluigi there Palestrina (1525 - 1594) and Orlando di Lasso (1534 - 1594). The music served here particularly as a means, overText arranges to present.

In the course 16. Century began one to experiment with the confrontation of several choirs in the area. The Mehrchörigkeit developed. End 16. Century became the choir increasingly functionally, particularly in the opera.

development in the German-speaking countries

reformation time

somewhat older than the A-cappella-sentence is the instrument-valley-accompanied tenor song. A master of this form was Ludwig Senfl (1486-1543/44). The tenor song consisted of a textierten melody, one cantus firmus, to as complex instrument valleys counterpoint one clearly deep ringing out bass as well as twoUpper voices in addition-stepped. Occasionally it to textieren also the instrument valley voices was possible.

The composers of the reformation time for its erbaulich--lay singing used this form. It consisted likewise of one cantus firmus, to which stepped further being correct, instrumentale now no longer, but textierte perfectly. General agent of this direction was the Luther Intimus Johann walter (1496 - 1570), who is considered also as a founder of the Dresdens yard chapel.


in the baroque met several musical developments, which made this time altogether a high point of the vowel music. Particularly the Evangelist church music experienced a bloom.

Of the early and high baroque the passing on of religious contents as well as the combination of different national styles (Italy, France) were the center. Representatives are under other Heinrich contactor, Michael Praetorius, Johann Hermann light and Claudio Monteverdi.

It took place a radical change of the clay/tone language, caused from the changedHandling the text: If this was in former times, if at all, rather symbolically interpreted, one clarified now its affect content with the word clay/tone figures of a musical Rhetorik.

The most important innovation of the high baroque was that now an independently acting orchestra was confronted to the vowel choir for the first time. It developed thosenew form of the Kantate (with often long-range solo singing sections), on the other hand the Motette moved into the background. Most important representatives of this time were Johann Sebastian brook, George Philipp Telemann and George Friedrich trade.

Besides the late baroque was quasi „the cradle of “our current choir understanding. During with PraetoriusSingle voices depending upon need, taste and possibilities still solistisch, chorisch or instrument valley to be occupied could, expected one now a firm choir ensemble in the today's sense, even if these were usually still quite small (about 12 singers are delivered with brook).

Classical period

in the Viennese classical period had above all the lay choir music a small meaning, there in 18. Century the instrument valley music into the focus moved. However there is also a whole set of operas, in which the choir plays a role.

In the church music became howeverfurther fastidious and extensive music for choir and orchestra written.Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz thrust ore and Ludwig van Beethoven composed religious works such as fairs for the liturgical use.


the choir music of the romance was coined/shaped by the kinds choir song and Oratorium.

From those more strongly becoming lay adjustment of the society many lay choir song compositions, for example by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, resulted Carl Friedrich Zelter, Friedrich Silcher and Johannes Brahms. Partially these choir songs in the melody guidance at the Volkslied, in that oriented themselves the romantics naturalnessand purity saw. Silcher composed its choir songs as Volkslieder. At the end 19. Century came it to a massive establishment of singing associations.

By the civil choir combinations, the forerunners of the today's Philharmoni choirs, were choirs in an order of magnitude at the disposal, those to the combination alsohad grown the increased symphonischen orchestras. Composers used this such as Giuseppe Verdi, max of active, Johannes Brahms, Anton Bruckner and smelling pool of broadcasting corporations Wagner. The standard size of a choir rose to approximately 70 to 120 singers. Larger occupations of 300 to 500 singers, as for exampleGustav of meals, Hector Berlioz, Mendelssohn or Arnold beautiful mountain (in its Gurre songs) are prominent exceptions, were however also not rare and therefore for larger performances quite realistic.

The enlargement of the choirs had also effects on the sentence structure: The Polyphonie stepped into the background; out-curving Harmonik and extreme dynamics were priority. Beyond that it gave now increases choir occupations, in whom several or all being correct situations were doubly represented. Furthermore the woman choir and the man choir developed .

Within the range of the religious music set itself apart from compositions with orchestra also againthe A-cappella-Kompositionsweise through. On the basis of Louis Spohrs fair op.54 and its 3 Psalmen op.85 over the A-cappella-compositions Mendelssohn Bartholdys stretches itself the elbow over Bruckners e-Moll-fair, Brahms' of religious Motetten, the Ave Maria Verdis up to the Motetten Regers, those already at the threshold toModern ones stand. For many of these compositions a resort to baroque forms is characteristic. „The occupation record “in ACappeal-but-calibrate this time keeps by the way Mendelssohns Motette „hora est “, in which each being correct situation is quadruple represented.

In the range of the choir music with orchestra are above all measuring and Requiem compositions, butalso in increased measure Oratorien and konzertant specifyable works to register. While the measuring compositions thrust RTS and Carl Maria von Webers were still clearly coined/shaped by the classical period, were for later measuring compositions for instance of Anton Bruckner and Robert Schumann clearly baroque models with coining/shaping. Altogether wentthe measuring compositions in the romance clearly back, which is to be attributed above all to the fact that the compositions became ever more aufwändiger technically and concerning the occupation strength, which made its liturgical use more difficult.

Choirs played an important role also in the oratorischen works of the romance. These works came thatagainst civil music enterprise. They were konfessionell not bound and konzertant specifyable. Important works are Spohrs Oratorien „the Heilands last hours “and „the last things “, Mendelssohns Oratorien „Paulus “and „Elias “, Carl arm and of Mangolds „Abraham “(1860) and Albert Lortzings „the Ascension Day Jesu Christi “. Also Brahms „German Requiem “and Josef Rheinbergers „Christoforus “belong to this category. Also in the different national schools oratorische works with choir developed. Here for instance John Stainers is „The Crucifixion “, Hector Berlioz' „width unit Deum “(1848) and his Requiem „Grande measures morts “(1837), that the usual frameworks of liturgical celebrationsblows up and therefore is dependent on a oratorische performance to call. In this connection importantly also Antonín Dvořáks are „Stabat mould “op.58, its „Requiem “op.98 and its „holy Ludmilla “op.71. Also Edward Elgars „Dream OF Gerontius “op.38 is to be assigned still to this category.

Remained relatively rarethe use of choirs in symphonies. Despite or because of Beethovens 9. Symphony op.125 symphonies with choirs remained relatively rare.Franz Liszts „fist symphony in three character pictures “for choir and orchestra (1857) and its „symphony to Dantes Divina COMM dia. “with woman Mrs. (Dante symphony, 1855-1856) remained beside Mendelssohn BartholdysSymphonie No. 2 „praise singing “up to Mahlers symphonies the only prominent examples.

A special role played in the choir music of the romance of the Cäcilianismus. It reflected the tendency within the range of the catholic church to find the way back to purer and clearer forms of the religious music those thatliturgical framework more gemässer was overloaded than those often than and Protestant felt neobarocken forms of the romance. This should be achieved by a rear wall ending to a however frequently wrongly understood Palestrinastil.

modern trend

after the First World War one pursued two ways, around itself consciously- time-historically motivates - from the romance to distinguish. On the one hand the way of the musical avant-garde with atonalen and twelve-tonal composition forms, which could never become generally accepted however within the choir range correctly. Isolated choir works of high rank nevertheless became for example of Anton webers, Arnold beautiful mountain, Ernst Krenek, Hanns Eisler and Luigi Dallapiccola production.

Other composers oriented themselves rather at the ideals of the baroque and the Renaissance; this composition direction, falsely Neobarock mentioned, played particularly in Germany and Austria an important role. In this pronounced kind it has itin other countries did not give.

Apart from the Wiederentdeckung „old master “as of Isaac, di Lasso, Lechner, Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi, Palestrina, contactor and brook came new on the baroque music and its sentence technology purchase taking compositions of artists such as Hugo Distler, Ernst Pepping, Paul Hindemith, briefly Hessen mountain, Johann Nepomuk David, Franz table houses, Günter de Witt and Volker Gwinner in addition.

The term Neobarock as name for this composition direction is however in the principle wrong: Nearly all composers of this direction, completely particularly Hugo Distler, reached into contrastto many composers of the romance not on baroque forms, but completely consciously on older forms, in particular such the Renaissance back. The resort to old sentence techniques is not thereby the most important style screen end moment of these composers, actually belongs many compositions of a moderate musical modern trend.

The sameResort to musical traditions took place straight in the choir music also at other composers. Thus for instance Igor Strawinski connected in its Psalmensinfonie, Sergei Rachmaninow in the Liturgie hl. Chrysostomus OI. 31 and generally speaking evening and morning praise OI. 37, Carl Orff into that Carmina Burana, Leoš Janáček in the Glagoliti fair and Francis Poulenc and Maurice Duruflé in their Motetten consciously elements of their respective traditions with means of the musical modern trend.

popular music at the end 20. Century

a clear movement beyond that is to the popularTo recognize music and their typical Stilistiken; new choir kinds develop such as Gospelchor, Pop or jazz choir. Not yet finally clarified is however the question, as one can represent this Stilistiken with a chorischen layman occupation at all authentically. Here there are two solutions: Either oneuse sophisticated arrangements (usually technically very fastidious), or one reduce the choir functionally to “Backgroundgesang” simultaneous when using soloists and volume (Contemporary Black Gospel). Vowel improvisation (e.g. Scat) is to be found in the chorischen range in this country only very rarely. Within the church-musical range different tryComposer to combine popular styles (above all Swing and jazz) with “classical” elements. The most well-known representatives of this direction are Ralf Grössler as well as Johannes Matthias Michel.

The range of the chorischen popular music is to that solistisch occupies itself vowel ensemble very with difficulty to define, in the range the Barbershop, Comedy, folklore, concert hall and Varietee ever larger likingness please. Generally speaking both at vowel ensembles and choirs a specialization is recognizable with simultaneous commercialization.

development of Europe

the development in the German-speaking countries is coining/shaping since the early baroque for the entireCentral Europe; Influences are to be observed until Scandinavia and America. From therefore it the musical development of the choir music ran into other European countries very similarly as in the German-speaking countries. This changed only clearly with the social and political situation about for at the beginning 20.Century.

Contrary to the German-speaking countries one had the possibility in other countries of finding from the late romance outside a flowing transition to the contemporary choir literature; some countries (among other things France, England, America) thereby meanwhile a kind “national style” developed; remarkable is here above all thoseAssumption of folkloristischer and popular elements.


starting from center 18. Century formed - on the basis of the continuous care of the liturgical choir singing (see also: Evensong) - in England the kind “choir and organ” out, those only very many later in Franceand Germany was taken over. Here the choir part is simply and simply (often also geringstimmig) held (Edward Elgar), can accept however quite also sinfonische extents depending upon cause and possibilities (Stanford). Characteristically the extensive and often orchestral pronounced organ part is, clear over one Continuobegleitung goes out. English organs have therefore also often their own Begleitmanual, which appropriate and functionally “Choir” is called.

In addition common and maintained the tradition of the boy and man choirs is still very far beside the mixed choirs.


with composers such as Maurice Ravel, Gabriel Fauré and Claude Debussy came it center to end 19. Century to a general musical reversal in France. Emphasis kinds were that chanson as well as the Kantate and the orchestra song, stylistic were decisive the Impressionismus. By the world exhibition 1855 in Paris it came furtherto an influence by Russian, Arab and asiatic music. This expressed itself also in the choir music by new harmonious scales and partial unusual being correct treatment (Vocalisen, perkussive elements).

In the church music it came at the beginning and in the middle 20. Century to a clear back meditation on the Gregorianikwhen simultaneous advancement the Harmonik. To call are here above all Maurice Duruflé, Francis Poulenc and Jean Langlais.

non-European development

the USA

the USA as immigrant country were always of the European art music affected; Kept inRange of the choir music above all the romantic epoch, whose literature as well as ideas are maintained still until today. </br> Beginning 20. Century were there clear efforts, a its own, to develop independent musical culture. The first attempt by the appointment from Antonín Dvořák to New Yorkfailed however in as much as its work was not really attributed to the USA. Only with composers such as George Gershwin, Leonard amber and Duke Ellington succeeded to the USA approximately in the 30's the internationele break-through in the art music, even if this only indirectly upthe choir music influence had. Only in/the 50's 40's slowly the kind jazz choir developed, as composition techniques that became to transfer bending volume to the vocal range. In the range of the arrangement for jazz and Popchöre are the USA also today still leading.

In the church music stoodabove all the care and advancement of the romance in the foreground, which culminates however from European view in an already nearly patriotic Überfremdung.


  • Heribert everything, Hans Gebhard: Choir info. NIC work customer. Series of publications of the federation of German concert choirs, Bd. 3. 2. Edition, Viersen 1995, ISBN 3-929698-03-X
  • Hans Gebhard (Hrsg.):Shedding mountain choir music leader. Shedding mountain, Dortmund 1999, ISBN 3-611-00817-6
  • Silke Leopold, Ullrich Scheideler: Oratorienführer. Metzler, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3476009777
  • Werner Oehlmann, Alexander Wagner: Reclams choir music and Oratorienführer. 7. Edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-15-010450-5
  • Erich Valentin: Manual of the choir music.3 volumes. Gustav Bosse, Regensburgto 1953-1968

Web on the left of

see also

choir | Choir line | Singing association


  > German to English > (Machine translated into English)