The Baroque Period, 1600–1750

Baroque was a style that was characterised by a tendency to decorate and embellish. It is also seen as an expressive period, though not in an emotional sense (as with the Romantic era), but rather where, although there were still rules to follow creatively, brilliant and sparkling art was produced.

In architecture, designs went up on a grand scale, with constructions such as the Palace of Versailles near Paris and the piazza in Rome by Bernini, who was considered the leading Baroque sculptor. In music, composers such as Vivaldi, Bach and Handel were producing compositions that would serve to inspire nearly all those that followed them, though, contrary to what one might think, they themselves did not just sit around waiting to be inspired. Most of the composers of the time were in the employ of patrons, usually aristocrats or religious leaders who required works to be written for special occasions and events. Bach, for example, was contractually obliged to produce almost one new work every week, and Handel wrote pieces such as his famous 'Water Music' while composing for the King of England.

Chamber music was the popular format of the time, with a concentration on strings as a rule. Although orchestras were occasionally used, a concert was usually performed to a private (and probably very rich) audience by a few musicians. The piano as we know it today had not yet been invented, and the popular instrument was the harpsichord. This produced sounds of the same volume regardless of how hard a key was hit, and the result was music whose volume did not vary as much as Classical or Romantic, and was therefore less emotional. However it was expressive, bright and energetic with an intelligent feel that made the whole Baroque movement an influential and important period in music.


Composer Home Country Born Died
Antonio Vivaldi Venice Italy 1678 1741
Johann Sebastian Bach Eisenach Germany 1685 1750
George Frideric Handel Halle Germany 1685 1759