Publication Date

April 2019

Advisor(s)

Jane Alden

Major

Music

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This thesis explores the question of what unites us at the intersection of social theory and musicology, and posits contemporary oratorio practice as a potential answer. Chapter 1 investigates sacred music’s significance in a secularizing society, and subsequently deconstructs the dichotomy that renders music “sacred” using a Durkheimian framework. Chapter 2 discusses oratorio’s origins in the prayer halls of 17th century Rome and examines the evolution of oratorio’s social function in the centuries following. Chapter 3 focuses on two contemporary oratorio examples and highlights their sacred properties. Ultimately, this thesis urges readers to reconsider what “sacred” means in the context of the 21st century oratorio.

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