Baroque Music

About Baroque Music

The baroque era was a prosperous period for instrumental music: from church, dances and bucolic fests to opera, ballet and royal concerts, music became omnipresent in the life of aristocrats and commoners alike. Gifted musicians and artists were often employed by the courts, the Church, or upper class patrons. The period gave birth to many legendary composers and virtuoso players - greats such as J.S. Bach, Vivaldi and Handel - whose contribution to music remains influential to this day.

Baroque music shares many aesthetic principles with the visual arts and architecture of the Baroque period, which spans roughly from 1600 to 1750 in music. An important principle is a love of ornamentation: cadenzas, trills, flourishes and elaborate embellishments were often expected to be improvised by performers, sometimes with considerable latitude.

Baroque music strives for a great level of emotional intensity, and a Baroque piece often uniformly depicts a single particular "affect", an emotion such as exultation, love, grief, piety, etc... Novel performance methods such as the mute, col legno and sul ponticello are used to achieve a high degree of expression.

The 18th century was the Age of Enlightenment. In this period, intellectuals valued rationalism and methodology; similarly baroque music also expressed order, and harmony took over as the predominant organising principle in musical composition. While scientists were making significant discoveries and innovations in their respective fields, composers of the Baroque period developed music theory considerably and brought counterpoint to a culmination. Basso continuo parts, almost universal in the Baroque era were, as the name implies, played continuously throughout a piece, providing the harmonic structure of the music.

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