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The oratorio is a musical form with the unusual distinction of being named for… a building. In the 1550's in Rome, a priest named Filippo Neri organized a series of religious gatherings that included performances of sacred stories with music. His musical meetings became so popular that to accommodate the crowds he had to build a special prayer hall. The hall was called an oratorio—from the Latin word for  “prayer”—and Neri’s followers became known as oratoriani.  The influence of the oratoriani soon spread throughout Italy and the rest of Europe, and the sacred stories with music grew more and more elaborate and sophisticated until they were recognized as a whole new musical form—a form that took the name of its first home.  Over the course of four centuries, composers have written oratorios in many styles and many languages. Even a short list of great oratorio composers would include such names as Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Brahms, and, more recently, Elgar, Stravinsky, Walton, and Penderecki. 

A Minute with Miles - a production of ETV Radio made possible by the JM Smith Corporation.

Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.