glee, in music, an unaccompanied song for three or more solo voices in harmony. The word glee [Anglo-Saxon, gligge or gliw = music] has been associated with vocal music from the time of the medieval gleeman or jongleur. The glee consisted of several short, individual pieces interpreting a poetic passage. The form is exclusively English and flourished mainly between 1750 and 1830, after which time it was displaced by the part songs of the Victorian composers. Glorious Apollo by Samuel Webbe (1740–1816) was the most famous glee. Gentlemen's glee societies were popular in England during the 18th cent., and women's glee societies had some vogue at the end of the century. In the United States glee clubs are simply choral organizations.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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