The "Standard Oratorios" is intended as a companion to the "Standard Operas;" and with this purpose in view the compiler has followed as closely as possible the same method in the arrangement and presentation of his scheme. The main object has been to present to the reader a comprehensive sketch of the oratorios which may be called "standard," outlining the sacred stories which they tell, and briefly indicating and sketching their principal numbers, accompanied in each case with a short biography of the composer and such historical matter connected with the various works as is of special interest. The compiler has also included in his scheme a sketch of the origin and development of the Oratorio as illustrated in its three principal evolutionary stages, together with descriptions of several works which are not oratorios in the strict sense, but at the same time are sacred compositions written upon a large scale and usually performed by oratorio societies, such as Bach's "Passion Music" and "Magnificat," Berlioz's, Mozart's, and Verdi's Requiems, Mendelssohn's "Hymn of Praise," Handel's "Dettingen Te Deum," Schumann's "Paradise and the Peri," and Rubinstein's "Tower of Babel."
As in the case of the "Standard Operas," the work has been prepared for the general public rather than for musicians, and as far as practicable, technical terms have been avoided. Description, not criticism, has been the purpose of the volume, and the various works are described as fully as the necessarily brief space allotted to each would allow. The utmost pains have been taken to secure historical and chronological accuracy, inasmuch as these details are nearly always matters of controversy. The favor which has been so generously accorded to the "Standard Operas" leads the compiler to believe that the "Standard Oratorios" will also be welcomed by those who enjoy the sacred music of the great masters, and that it will prove a valuable addition to other works of musical reference.
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