The Baroque Period | Music History Video Lesson


welcome to the first lesson in our music

history video series here at Liberty

Park music in this video we will provide

a brief introduction to the Baroque

period in classical music history and

explore some of its most notable

characteristics and practitioners the

Baroque period in classical music

witnessed a great expansion of the

musical conventions and traditions

established during the preceding

Renaissance era compositions became more

complicated ensemble sizes increased and

the influence of Italian opera brought

new drama throughout the European

musical world

in addition composers during this time

generally enjoyed the benefits of

increased arts patronage as well as the

growing acceptance of non sacred

instrumental music which fuelled

innovation and experimentation the term

Baroque has taken from the Portuguese

word baroque Oh a pearl of a regular

shape that was used in fine jewelry and

was considered a pejorative when it was

first used in the early 18th century the

term as it is used for music bears

association with the extravagant works

of art and architecture that were

prevalent during this time exemplified

by creations such as the Palace of

Versailles in France or the elaborate

sacred art within st. Peter's Basilica

in Vatican City the musical trends

coming out of Italy served as the

greatest source of inspiration for

Baroque composers and many of the

practices established by these trends

remain standard to this day italian

terms for dynamics and tempos such as

forte and Allegro were popularized

during this time and the heightened

drama and expressivity of Italian opera

greatly influenced composers throughout

Europe while there is a great deal of

diversity in compositional style to be

found during this period a few key

elements can be pointed to as being

idiomatically Baroque the technique of

counterpoint in which lines of musical

material are woven together as

independent voices was carried over from

the vocal polyphonic practices of the

Renaissance era and remained a

continuous influence throughout the

Baroque period reaching some of its

greatest Heights under the quills of the

baroque composer

the development of a Basso continuo or

continuous bass to provide a regular

reliable foundation over which both

harmony and melody could interact became

a prevailing compositional device due in

part to the growing acceptance of

secular instrumental music and the

increasing influence of Italian opera

the musical shorthand of figure base

which uses small numbers under a bass

note to indicate the harmonic intervals

to be played above it was developed in

conjunction with Basso continuo finally

performers and composers of the Baroque

period often decorated their melodies

with heavy ornamentation which could be

anything from simple trills or turns to

complicated arpeggios or scale figures

in addition to these primary identifying

features several other important musical

developments evolved during the Baroque

period Baroque music practices placed a

greater emphasis on player skill

resulting in more virtuosic performances

and more technically demanding

compositions composers during the

Baroque came to codify major and minor


which would govern the harmonic

prerogatives of classical music well

into the 19th century additionally many

instruments that will become staples of

the modern classical orchestra either

matured or were invented during this

period for example the legendary

Cremonese violin maker Antonio

Stradivari established new standards for

the construction and quality of violins

throughout the early decades of the 18th

century meanwhile venetian instrument

builder Bartolomeo Cristofori would

invent the instrument referred to in its

earliest phases as the Forte piano or

pianoforte which would later be

shortened to simply the piano many of

the leading musical figures during the

Baroque were pioneers of form and style

Italian composer Alessandro Scarlatti

helped to develop and popularize many

aspects of operatic form and design

greatly influencing opera composers for

generations to come

virtuoso keyboard performer and composer

Johann frou Berger established the well

known for movement baroque dance suite

as a standard genre for keyboard music

Antonio Vivaldi a fantastically prolific

composer who is most often remembered by

modern day listeners for his series of

violin concertos known as the Four

Seasons spent much of his career setting

the bar for the composition and

performance of instrumental concertos

but the most prominent names to emerge

from the annals of Baroque music history

are undoubtedly those of George

Frederick Handel and Johann Sebastian

Bach both of whom left vast bodies of

work that continued to inspire amaze and

instruct music lovers the world over

listed here are some of the major

composers of the Baroque period as with

any style of music the best way to

become familiar with the sound of the

Baroque is to experience a broad

selection of its musical offerings here

is a list of pieces that exemplify the

sound of the Baroque thanks for watching

we will continue our exploration of

different periods in classical music

history in future videos so be sure to

stay tuned to Liberty Park music and

keep an eye out for our composer BIOS

article series where we will survey the

lives and music of your favorite

classical composers