A History of Western Choral Music, Volume 1

Chester L. Alwes

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook


This book examines the development of choral music from the beginnings of choral polyphony in the fifteenth century through the Renaissance and Baroque eras into the sacred works of the Classic–Romantic age. The book begins with the medieval foundations of polyphony, liturgy, modality, and mensural notation, culminating in the isorhythmic motet of the Ars Nova. A chronological survey of Renaissance choral music recognizes the sea change that was the result of Humanism and the Protestant Reformation. Topics include sacred music through Josquin des Prez; choral music with secular vernacular texts; the sacred music of the sixteenth century; sacred music in England before and after the Anglican Reformation; Baroque choral music of Italy, Germany, France, England; and the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. The final four chapters examine the different philosophies of the Classic and Romantic eras and include a survey of representative genres: mass, requiem, and smaller sacred works. The book reflects the dynamic nature of the changing face of European culture, the decisions contemporary scholarship has made regarding the essential compositional genres, and a consensus of the major composers within each area.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780195177428
StatePublished - Jun 2015


  • choral music
  • requiem
  • oratorio
  • cantata
  • polychoral concerto
  • madrigal
  • motet
  • mass
  • secular music
  • sacred music
  • European history


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