(b Turin, 7 Nov 1866; d Rivodora, nr Turin, 23 Feb 1935). Italian violin maker. He was a pupil of Gioffredo Rinaldi of Turin, for whom he worked from 1878 to 1888. He also worked as a restorer for F.W. Chanot in London from 1889 to 1891, returning to Turin in 1892 where he began to make new instruments in 1894. Except for a brief return to London, he remained in Turin for the rest of his active career. He participated in the Turin Exhibizione of 1898 as an exhibitor, displaying a quartet of instruments. He also exhibited at the Turin Exposizione Internationale of 1911.
Oddone is considered one of the most important violin makers and restorers in Italy during the first half of the 20th century. In all, he made over 244 violins, four violas, 19 cellos and two violas d'amore. They reveal a strong and personal character with precise and accurate craftsmanship. His earlier work reflects a lighter and more graceful approach, favouring the models of Amati, Stradivari and Guarneri as well as occasionally Rocca. After 1900 his work takes on a stronger and more robust character, and incorporates models of Pressenda and the bolder models of Stradivari and Guarneri. The woods used are always of the finest quality. The varnish is usually coloured a deep golden orange, although a reddish brown is sometimes seen. The edges of the scroll and corner joints on the ribs are marked out in black. After 1894 Oddone's instruments each bore his number on the label as well as his brands on the lower rib and frequently on the interior. Among those for whom he made instruments and restorations was Alfred Hill, who held his abilities in high esteem. (VannesE)
In the music and liturgy of the Byzantine rite, the equivalent of ‘canticle’, a section of biblical poetry other than a psalm forming a regular part of Orthros (the morning Office). SeeCanticle, §2; Kanōn; Byzantine chant, §10(iii).
(from Gk. ōdē, from aeidō: ‘I sing’).
In classical antiquity, a poem intended to be sung, usually in honour of some special occasion or as part of a play. Both Greek and Roman ode texts were set to music in the 15th and 16th centuries: some were purely didactic exercises intended to demonstrate poetic metres through mensural notation, while others apparently formed part of the general humanist homage to classical literary style. In the 17th and 18th centuries a cantata-like form called ‘ode’ was cultivated as a form of panegyric to the English monarch, and it eventually also became a standard part of the annual celebrations of St Cecilia’s Day. Neither these odes nor subsequent musical ‘odes’ have any relation to the form or metres of classical models, although most share a tendency to celebrate particular events, places or men, as did most Greek odes.
1. Classical antiquity.
2. Humanistic settings.
3. The English ode.
4. 19th and 20th centuries.
MICHAEL TILMOUTH/THOMAS J. MATHIESEN (1), JAMES HAAR (2), ROSAMOND McGUINNESS/TONY TROWLES (3), MALCOLM BOYD (4)
1. Classical antiquity.
In ancient Greece, ‘ode’ (aoidē, ōdē) was the generic term for song, whether solo or choral, embracing a wide variety of types (e.g. Hymn, Paean, Epinikion, Thrēnos, Dithyramb, Encomium, Prosodion and Partheneia) named according to their functions. Choral lyrics, usually accompanied by dancing, were used at festivals in honour of Apollo or particular cities (hyporchēma and paean), to honour an individual (opinikion or encomium), as processional hymns (praodion or partheneia) and to celebrate Dionysus (dithyramb).
Choral odes are strophic or triadic. In the strophic form, the metres correspond from stanza to stanza, while in the triadic form, two metrically correspondent stanzas (strophe and antistrophe) are followed by an epode employing a contrasting metric pattern. In general, the metre is complex and the tone of the text is elevated. Many of the most important composers of choral odes were from the Dorian states, including such poets as Alcman, Arion, Ibycus, Pindar and Stesichorus, but some, such as Simonides and Bacchylides, came from other regions. Monodic odes, associated with the poets Alcaeus, Anacreon and Sappho, generally exhibit a simpler metric structure with texts treating the entire range of human experience. Horace’s Odes and Epodes were fashioned after the model of earlier Greek authors, whom Horace specifically names as Sappho and Alcaeus (for the Odes) and Archilochus (for the Epodes). The Pindaric ode was widely imitated in English literature of the Augustan age by such poets as Cowley, Dryden and Thomas Gray.
Choral odes were an essential element of early Greek drama, although the importance of the choral element in drama gradually waned as dialogue assumed a more conspicuous place. In tragedy the chorus made its entry after the prologue, processing to the orchēstra (‘dancing area’) while singing the parodos (see Tragōidia). It contributed short songs within the epeisodia, and odes of considerable dimensions in the stasima and exodos at the end of the play. Euripides’s Bacchae, for example, contains five odes, four of them constructed triadically with one introducing a new element, a refrain linking strophe and antistrophe. The parodos and exodos odes were also features of Greek comedy, which is also distinguished by the parabasis, an elaborate musical interlude, occurring roughly in the middle of a comedy, in which the chorus addresses the audience directly on behalf of the poet. See also Greece, §I, 4.
2. Humanistic settings.
Some Horatian odes were set to music in medieval court circles and monastery schoolrooms; several such settings survive, including an 11th-century copy of a Sapphic ode with neumes outlining the hymn melody Ut queant laxis. Guido of Arezzo wrote in the Micrologus (xv) of metrical performances of classical poetry, probably used for didactic purposes.
It seems likely that 15th-century humanists, such as those who gathered at Marsilio Ficino’s Platonic academies, may have improvised sung odes as part of their attempted reconstruction of antique practices. Indeed, Ficino prided himself on his ability to sing Orphic hymns to his own accompaniment on the ‘lira’ (probably a lira da braccio), suggesting the possibility of other attempts to evoke Greek music. It is thought that the mensurally notated melodies illustrating five classical metres printed in Franciscus Niger’s Brevis grammatica (Venice, 1480) may have been models for such improvisation; indeed, Glarean included a number of monophonic settings of Horatian texts in Dodecachordon (ii, 1547), suggesting that successive stanzas ought to be embellished and altered, and recalling a performance of a long classical text he had heard in Cologne in 1508. Some frottola-like settings of classical texts, such as Michele Pesenti’s Integer vitae, suggest that Italian taste cared little for metrical exactness; but metrically correct settings of Latin odes were nonetheless current in Italian circles. One example is a Sapphic ode by L. Curtius on planetary virtues and powers, set as a quantitatively correct duo by Gaffurius and published in his De harmonia (1518).
The connection between the classical ode and musical life was closer in Germany than in any other country. During the 1490s the German humanist Conradus Celtis, lecturing on Horace at Ingolstadt, commissioned a pupil, Petrus Tritonius, to compose four-voice illustrations of the 19 poetic metres in Horace’s odes. Tritonius’s settings, rather stiff imitations of contemporary Tenorlied style, had the virtue of conforming exactly to the classical metres. They were sung by students at the ends of lectures and were eventually printed, in an expanded form, as Melopoiae sive harmoniae tetracenticae super XXII genera carminum heroicorum elegiacorum lyricorum et ecclesiasticorum hymnorum (1507). The collection enjoyed great success in German schools and was reprinted in various forms. In 1534 a new set of odes by Senfl appeared, in which the tenors of Tritonius’s compositions were used as superius parts and fitted with new harmonizations. Other collections of Horatian odes, similar in character to those of Tritonius and Senfl but newly composed, include one composed by ‘Michael’, printed for T. Billican in 1526, and Hofhaimer’s Harmoniae poeticae (Nuremberg, 1539).
As early as 1495 Latin plays by German schoolmasters included odes. The celebrated Ludus Dianae of Celtis, performed in 1501, had choruses in antique metres sung at the end of each act. This use of choral odes became common in school plays on sacred or allegorical subjects, often using or referring to Horatian texts; such plays were performed by German schoolchildren throughout the 16th century and well into the 17th. The relationship between these choruses and German chorale settings was often close, especially when the plays were in the vernacular. Indeed, some of Tritonius’s ode settings were taken over into the chorale repertory by the mid-16th century. Early Christian texts in antique metres, such as those by Prudentius, were set by such composers as Agricola, Senfl and Benedictus Ducis, and some psalm texts were recast in Horatian metres for musical performance.
Although Glarean cited a metrically exact melody from an ode by Robert Gaugin, a piece he must have seen in his student days in Paris, no French tradition corresponding to the German cultivation of the ode can be observed. Goudimel provided music for an enormous Pindaric ode by Pierre Ronsard, music and text being published in the Amours of 1552–3, and he is known to have published a now lost collection of Horatian odes in 1555, suggesting that the Calvinist psalmody to which he contributed so much may owe something to humanistic concern for classical prosody. The notions of Baïf’s and Ronsard’s contemporaries about ‘musique mesurée à la lyre’ are only indirectly related to the 16th-century tradition of metrically exact ode settings, however. Instead, they seem to have been the logical continuation of earlier humanistic efforts to set classical odes, hymns and hexameters (seeVers mesurés, vers mesurés à l’antique). Exact note-for-syllable equivalence was primarily a matter for the classroom and the academy. Occasional settings of classical odes in motet style by Rore and others, along with the Virgil motets of Josquin and Willaert and the precise hexameters of Lassus’s Prophetiae Sibyllarum, show enough care for declamation to suggest that the humanistic concern shown by academic cultivation of ode composition made a genuine contribution to 16th-century musical thought.
3. The English ode.
This form of extended cantata, originating shortly after the Restoration and remaining in use for at least 160 years, was most often designed as an act of loyalty to a reigning monarch, an act of thanksgiving, or a tribute to St Cecilia. Any relationship to the classical ode is slender beyond the fact that English odes are occasional and sententious works cast in the form of addresses to the object of praise, as well as being stately in structure, lyrical in expression and serious in tone.
The tradition of celebrating personal events in the lives of English monarchs was an old one. It may be linked with the musical tributes offered to Elizabeth I on her progresses, and as early as 1617 Orlando Gibbons composed a ‘welcome song’ on James I’s arrival in Edinburgh, Do not repine, fair sun. This work lacked the solo sections characteristic of the Restoration ode, but its resemblance to the contemporary verse anthem anticipated the later form’s style. The earliest extant ode text is Ben Jonson’s A New-Yeares-Gift Sung to King Charles, 1635 (adapted from a masque text written in 1620 for James I’s birthday); Jonson’s panegyric poetry remained a frequent source for ode texts after the Restoration. The title of Thomas Nabbes’s masque A Presentation Intended for the Prince his Highness on his Birthday, the 29 of May, 1638, Annually Celebrated, for the eighth birthday of the later Charles II, suggests that such celebrations were the rule, although no other examples survive: if the young prince witnessed this and other such performances, its memory may have prompted his later encouragement of official odes.
Contrary to the general belief, then, the writing of odes was not simply a practice borrowed from the French court; the English custom was in fact established before the French one of including panegyrics of the king in opera prologues, and the independent ode was never known in France. The revival of the ode at the Restoration was prompted by the existing literary tradition, the psychological climate after the Commonwealth, and the coincidence of Charles II’s birthday with the date of his return.
The lack of contemporary evidence makes it difficult to trace the ode’s history in the 1660s, and in particular to say when odes were initiated. The earliest extant ones seem to be Henry Cooke’s Good morrow to the year and Locke’s All things their certain periods have, both probably written for 1 January 1666. Nor is it clear whether the performance of odes on royal birthdays was a regular event; birthday odes account for many of the surviving examples, but there are also ‘welcome songs’ on a monarch’s return to London (mostly from the reign of James II), ‘feast songs’ for banquets, funeral odes, and odes on coronations, military victories or treaties. (Odes on St Cecilia’s Day are discussed below.) It is impossible to say with whom the responsibility for producing odes lay; the writing of the texts and composition of the music does not, until 1715, seem to have been the obligation of particular court functionaries. Most texts before 1715 are anonymous, and neither the poets known to have written the remaining ones (including Flatman, Shadwell, D’Urfey, Sedley, Tate, Motteux, Prior and Wall) nor the composers of the music (Cooke, Locke, Humfrey, William Turner (ii), Blow, Henry and Daniel Purcell, Staggins, Tudway, Clarke, Croft and Handel) held any court position in common. Performances were generally given by the Gentlemen and Boys of the Chapel Royal with the King’s Band of 24 violins, supplemented as necessary.
Only ten odes from 1660 to 1680 survive in complete form (one by Locke, three each by Cooke, Humfrey and Blow); each consists of verses for solo or duet (with continuo) and verses for chorus, with instrumental ritornellos. There is some echoing of motifs between successive movements; sometimes entire sections were repeated, as required by the poetic form, and the overture (or parts of it) could be used for ritornellos. Humfrey and Blow favoured the French overture rather than the Italian symphony used by Cooke.
From about 1680 the court ode began to depart from its model and take on more individuality, partly under the influence of Purcell. He and Blow shared responsibility for the provision of court odes: in James II’s reign, Purcell provided welcome songs and Blow the birthday and New Year odes, a division that continued into the reign of William and Mary, though Purcell now composed occasional birthday odes. Their odes of this period show a wider range of dramatic effect and more colourful instrumentation; and the use of better vocal soloists (notably the countertenor John Abell and the bass John Gostling) led to the inclusion of virtuoso solo items. Purcell, in fact, widened the ode’s expressive range with his use of ritornellos, recurring grounds, motivic relationships and broader tonal planning. The death in 1685 of Charles II, who had exerted a considerable influence on the style of court music, gave the composers a freer hand in the composition of odes; Charles’s successors showed little interest in musical matters.
After Purcell’s death, and eventually Blow’s, the ode tradition was continued by lesser composers, including Daniel Purcell, and John Eccles, who was however capable of some degree of originality. Few odes from this period survive. The most important is Handel’s written for Queen Anne’s birthday in 1713: italianate in style, it nevertheless shows a marked Purcellian influence. While Handel drew on some of his previous works, including operas and oratorios, for several of its songs, he ended each item with a choral setting of the lines ‘The day that gave great Anna birth, Who fix’d a lasting peace on earth’.
Ode (ii), §3: The English ode
(ii) The court ode, 1715–1820.
From 1715 to the end of the regency in 1820, the preparation of odes on the royal birthday and the New Year was part of the duties of the Poet Laureate and the Master of the King’s Music. Texts were written by Rowe, Eusden, Cibber, Whitehead, Warton, Pye and Southey, and music by John Eccles, Greene, Boyce, Stanley and William Parsons. During the reigns of George I and II odes were performed twice a year, except during court mourning or, sometimes, when the day to be fêted fell on a Sunday; in George III’s reign, birthday odes were given each year until 1810. Poets were outspoken about their distaste for writing odes; both Thomas Gray and Sir Walter Scott declined the laureateship to avoid the duty, and William Whitehead, Poet Laureate from 1758 to 1785 and the author of at least 50 odes, complained of the position of a poet who, ‘oblig’d by sack and pension, Without a subject or invention … Must some half-meaning disguise And utter neither truth nor lies.’
The works of Greene and his successor as Master of the King’s Music, Boyce, are almost the only court odes after 1735 for which both text and music have survived. Both used the standard procedures and the idiom of contemporary dramatic works, like Handel’s. Impetus was given to this use of the Handelian model not only by the general popularity of Handel’s music but also by the particular enthusiasm for it of George I, II and III. Apart from Boyce’s settings of some of Whitehead’s longer texts, which are primarily in recitative style, the odes came to be successions of four or five affective arias or solo ensembles, accompanied by a variety of instruments whose choice was related to the text. Both secco and accompagnato recitative styles were used, and the whole was preceded by a substantial French overture or Italian symphony and concluded with a chorus. The instrumental introductions could make up half the length of the entire ode, and were usually its best music (Boyce published two collections of his overtures). J.C. Bach’s single offering to the ode tradition, a birthday ode for Queen Charlotte (consort of George III) in 1762, is noteworthy as an isolated example of an extant ode in the galant style.
With the exception of part of Stanley’s New Year ode for 1782, none of the music written for odes by Stanley or Parsons has survived, although the texts are available. Surviving descriptions of Stanley’s odes suggest that the influence of Handel’s dramatic style remained strong, and that the ode consisted of an alternation of recitatives and songs framed by an overture and a chorus. Parsons, the last Master to be burdened with the court ode, was chiefly renowned for his skill and good taste in adapting Handel’s music to Pye’s poetic texts.
In the early 18th century a parallel tradition of ode writing developed in Ireland, where the birthdays of the monarch and consort, but not New Year’s Day, were celebrated before the Lord Lieutenant (or his deputies) at Dublin Castle. Apart from an ode on Queen Anne’s birthday set by Charles Ximenes in February 1707 the first group of works of this sort were by J.S. Kusser, who arrived in Dublin that year and provided his first birthday ode in 1708; over the next 20 years he composed at least 18 birthday offerings. All but the first are described as serenatas, and the frequent use of the term serenata theatrale in the surviving librettos (all anonymous), along with elaborate scenic descriptions and the use of characterization, suggest that the works drew heavily on the masque tradition and included dramatic action as well as costumes and scenery. The only serenata by Kusser for which the music has survived is The Universal Applause of Mount Parnassus, written for Queen Anne’s birthday in 1711, which has a freshness and originality lacking in London court odes of the period.
After his death in 1727 Kusser was succeeded as Master and Composer of State Music in Ireland by Matthew Dubourg, many of whose odes are extant; but all the overtures are lost, and what survives of the music is of little interest apart from some occasionally elaborate violin accompaniments. He was succeeded in turn by Richard Hay and John Crosdill, but the Dublin court ode tradition died out some years before its London counterpart, the last known performance being for Queen Charlotte’s birthday in 1794.
Ode (ii), §3: The English ode
(iii) Odes for St Cecilia’s Day.
The largest single body of odes, besides those for royal birthdays and New Year festivities, was composed for the annual celebration of St Cecilia’s Day (22 November), a practice instituted in London by the Musical Society in 1683 and observed for 30 years (except in 1688 and 1689). Thereafter, Cecilian odes continued to be performed sporadically until the end of the 18th century; some were also composed in the 19th and 20th, but not always for performance as part of the traditional celebration (see §4).
The first celebration of St Cecilia’s Day was probably held at York Buildings, Villiers Street, which evidently proved too small, for subsequent events were held at Stationers’ Hall, where a banquet was followed by the performance of an ode. From 1693 the feast was preceded by a choral service at St Bride’s in Fleet Street during which a sermon in defence of church music was usually preached. A contemporary account appeared in the Gentleman’s Journal (January 1692):
On that day [22 November] or the next when it falls on a Sunday, … most of the lovers of music, whereof many are persons are of the first rank, meet at Stationers’-Hall in London, not thro’ a principle of superstition, but to propagate the advancement of that divine science. A splendid entertainment is provided, and before it is always a performance of music by the best voices and hands in town; the words, which are always in the patronesses praise, are set by some of the greatest masters in town.
Fishburn, Oldham, Tate, Dryden, Shadwell, D’Urfey, Brady, Congreve, Hughes, and others contributed texts, and the composers included Henry Purcell (1683 and 1692), Blow (1684, 1691, 1695, 1700), Draghi (1687), Finger (1693), Daniel Purcell (1694 and 1698), Clarke (1697) and John Eccles (1701). The odes were performed by leading singers of the day, with a chorus drawn from the choirs of St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal, and instrumentalists from the King’s Band and the theatres. Most texts conform to a common pattern: a conventional opening section praising Cecilia; a contrasting section, often using military imagery to express the chaos preceding the advent of ‘heavenly harmony’; and a final section lauding the qualities of individual instruments. The most distinguished texts are Dryden’s From Harmony (1687, music by Draghi) and Alexander’s Feast (1697, music by Clarke).
In musical organization and style, the Cecilian odes are similar to the court ones: songs, duets and trios setting descriptive passages, with choruses for the laudatory sections. Draghi’s fine setting of Dryden’s From Harmony did much to expand the expressive range of the Cecilian ode, exploiting the imagery of the text in both the melodic writing and the instrumental accompaniment. His ode undoubtedly influenced Purcell’s Hail! Bright Cecilia (1692) which, with its unusual formal coherence and consistently high musical quality, was the finest work to emerge from the annual festival. The London feasts inspired numerous provincial concerts on St Cecilia’s Day, and newly composed odes were given in Oxford (Daniel Purcell), Hereford (Henry Hall), Winchester (Vaughan Richardson) and elsewhere in England.
During the 18th century regular observance of St Cecilia’s Day declined, but the encomium musicae continued to provide inspiration for poets, either in the traditional form of an ode in honour of the patron saint (Pope, Lockman) or as a more general ode in praise of music or harmony (Warton, Pye). In this latter form the ‘ode to music’ retained some popularity with composers. Pope’s Cecilian ode was set by Greene, in a modified version, as his Cambridge doctoral exercise in 1730 and later, in its original form, as an Oxford BMus exercise by William Walond. William Boyce wrote a short ode for St Cecilia’s Day about 1738 as well as his fine extended setting of John Lockman’s See famed Apollo and the nine (1739). The poems written by Dryden for the feasts of 1687 and 1697 were set by Handel in 1739 and 1736 respectively (the former having its first performance on 22 November), and towards the end of the 18th century Samuel Wesley made an extended setting of a Cecilian ode by his grandfather that both William Norris and Daniel Purcell had set over a century earlier. Less substantial works in the Cecilian tradition by Pepusch, Alcock, Festing and the Hayeses are extant.
Ode (ii), §3: The English ode
(iv) Odes for academic ceremonial.
A separate tradition of ode writing developed at the University of Oxford; in its earliest manifestation, Latin songs performed to accompany the annual academic ceremony known as the Act (seeAct music (ii), it probably predates the court ode. At Cambridge ode performances were much rarer. By 1730, when Gibbs’s Senate House was opened, the distinction between different types of ode and their functions was increasingly blurred, a fact underlined by the performance of Greene’s doctoral St Cecilia ode as part of the celebrations for the new building. The only odes subsequently composed for Cambridge were Boyce’s setting of a text by William Mason for the installation of a new Chancellor in 1749, and John Randall’s installation ode of 1769 (now lost), with words by Thomas Gray. In Dublin an early example of an ode for an academic occasion is Purcell’s Great parent, hail (words by Tate), performed at Christ Church Cathedral in 1694 to celebrate the Trinity College centenary. The Earl of Mornington’s ode for the new Chancellor of the university in 1768 appears to have been the only other example.
Ode (ii), §3: The English ode
(v) Other aspects of the 18th-century ode.
Court odes inspired similar works in celebration of prominent figures and events of national significance, including Jeremiah Clarke’s ode celebrating the victories of the Duke of Marlborough and his so-called ‘Barbadoes Song’ commemorating a hurricane in the West Indies. Performances for charitable causes formed another strand of the ode tradition (e.g. Boyce’s Ode to Charity, 1774, and Arne’s ode for the Middlesex Hospital, 1775). Other odes for the inauguration of new buildings included those by James Hook (1772) and Samuel Arnold (1785).
Changes in literary taste had a significant influence on the ode as a musical form. Boyce’s Ode in Commemoration of Shakespeare (first performed 1756) and Arne’s setting of words by Richard Garrick for the so-called Shakespeare Jubilee of 1769 reflect the mid-century revival of interest in the Bard. There was a further Shakespeare ode from Samuel Arnold (given at Marylebone Gardens in 1769), but the most striking work of this sort was Thomas Linley’s A Lyric Ode on the Fairies, Aerial Beings, and Witches of Shakespeare, performed at Drury Lane in 1776. The text, by French Lawrence, reflects the rising romantic mood in English poetry, and Linley responded with fine music to produce one of the most important later examples of the genre.
Other poets influenced by the romantic movement (Gray, William Collins) increasingly wrote lengthy odes that lacked any occasional or topical significance but retained the characteristically rich language and imagery of the form. Such poems attracted many composers, an early example being William Hayes, whose setting of Collins’s The Passions was first performed in 1750, but it was composers of the next generation (Philip Hayes, William Jackson, Benjamin Cooke and John Wall Callcott) who established a tradition of ‘abstract’ odes. These are among the most substantial in the ode repertory, with overtures in several movements, extended self-contained vocal sections, elaborate fugal choruses and large-scale accompaniments. Few can be considered in toto as musically outstanding, but they frequently demonstrate the composers’ imaginative response to the libretto, expressed in vivid word-setting and unusual orchestration.
During the 18th century the term ‘ode’ came to be applied to a wide variety of works, ranging from strophic songs for solo voice, through works that are in effect cantatas, to settings on the scale of a small oratorio. The development of the public concert towards the end of the 17th century helped to sustain the ode’s development and ensured that many occasional pieces first heard in a setting appropriate to the event were repeated in the concert room, the theatre or the pleasure garden. Of the more than 500 odes known to have been composed between 1660 and 1800 well over half have survived in some form.
4. 19th and 20th centuries.
The ode hardly lends itself to precise definition as a musical genre in the 19th and 20th centuries. That is partly because poets themselves have not always been discriminating in their use of the term (there is no obvious reason, for example, why Keats’s To a Nightingale should be called an ode while Shelley’s To a Skylark is not), and also because during that period there was no unbroken tradition like that of the English court ode. Such late 18th-century publications as Sei ode di Oratio tradotta in lingua italiana (London, c1775), including settings by J.C. Bach and Antonio Boroni, and Odes d’Anacréon, … avec … odes grecques mises en musique par Gossec, Méhul, Le Sueur et Cherubini (Paris, 1798) seem to have been isolated examples of the classical revival. Many of the poems originally entitled odes in the 19th and 20th centuries were not so called when set to music, and vice versa. The best known of all musical odes, Beethoven’s setting of Schiller’s An die Freude in the finale of the Ninth Symphony, was not called an ode by Schiller, and although the title-page of the symphony reads Sinfonie mit Schluss-Chor über Schillers Ode ‘An die Freude’, Beethoven elsewhere referred to the poem in other terms. The settings (in translation) by Tchaikovsky (1864) and Mascagni (1882) are usually called cantatas.
Indeed, there is little to be gained by attempting to separate the ode from the cantata as a musical form in the 19th and 20th centuries; both might be described as substantial works for chorus and orchestra (often with solo voices) on a secular and usually elevated theme. (Brahms’s setting of Hans Schmidt’s Sapphische Ode, like other short odes for voice and piano, belongs to a different genre.) Odes, like cantatas, were frequently written for ceremonial occasions (e.g. Sterndale Bennett’s setting of Tennyson’s Ode Written Expressly for the Opening of the Industrial Exhibition, 1862, and Sullivan’s setting of Lewis Morris’s Imperial Institute Ode, 1887), and the tradition of celebrating the feast of St Cecilia with a specially composed ode was carried on intermittently. Among the many odes of Hubert Parry was a setting of the same Ode on St Cecilia’s Day by Pope that Maurice Greene and William Walond set in the 18th century. Among the best 20th-century Cecilian odes is Gerald Finzi’s For St Cecilia, composed to words by Edmund Blunden for the St Cecilia’s Day Festival in London in 1947. Britten’s unaccompanied Hymn to St Cecilia on a text by Auden, though not an ode in title, comes into the same category.
Works such as these were clearly related to the ancient classical odes of Horace and Pindar in so far as the poems they use were expressly written for musical setting. The majority of odes composed during the 19th and 20th centuries, however, were settings of verses not originally intended to be sung. A glance through the works of the major European composers of this period reveals surprisingly few odes (Bizet’s Vasco de Gama (1859–60) and Debussy’s unfinished Ode à la France (1916–17) are rather isolated examples), but the poetic form was much cultivated by the English Romantics, and many of their greatest odes attracted composers. Keats’s famous Ode to a Nightingale was set by Hamilton Harty, Ernest Walker and Richard Walthew, for example, and Holst used the same poet’s Ode on a Grecian Urn for the slow movement of his Choral Symphony (1923–4). Byron’s Ode to Napoleon was set for reciter and instruments by Schoenberg in 1942, and Finzi’s ambitious setting of Wordsworth’s Ode on the Intimations of Immortality was written for the Three Choirs Festival at Gloucester in 1950. Finzi omitted two of Wordsworth’s stanzas, but his ode is nevertheless one of the longest ever composed. Among later poems must be mentioned the verses of Walt Whitman that were used by Stanford for his Elegiac Ode (1884) and by Holst for his Ode to Death (1919). Robert Bridges commemorated the bicentenary of Purcell’s death in 1895 with an Ode to Music, which Parry set in that year as Invocation to Music; his own Ode to Music (1901) is to words by A.C. Benson. Holst also drew upon Bridges’s poem for part of his Choral Fantasia (1930). The ode was not much cultivated after World War II, perhaps because of its past associations with rather high-flown poetic sentiments and with a tradition of choral writing that many have considered stuffy and outworn.
MGG2 (E. Pöhlmann, K.G. Hartmann/T. Schmidt-Beste, T. Trowles, P. Jost)
W.H.Husk: An Account of the Musical Celebrations on St. Cecilia’s Day (London, 1857)
R.von Liliencron: ‘Die horazischen Metren in deutschen Kompositionen des 16. Jahrhunderts’, VMw, iii (1887), 26–91 [incl. edns of the odes of Tritonius, Senfl and Hofhaimer]
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