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BAROQUE ERA. 1600-1750. Baroque Literature. Shakespeare – Hamlet Cervantes – Don Quixote Milton – Paradise Lost Defoe – Robinson Crusoe Swift – Gulliver’s Travels. Baroque Art. Rubens Rembrandt. Baroque Politics. King James Bible – 1611 Galileo – 1610 Earth revolves around the sun.

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baroque era



baroque literature
Baroque Literature

Shakespeare – Hamlet

Cervantes – Don Quixote

Milton – Paradise Lost

Defoe – Robinson Crusoe

Swift – Gulliver’s Travels

baroque art
Baroque Art



baroque politics
Baroque Politics
  • King James Bible – 1611
  • Galileo – 1610 Earth revolves around the sun.
  • Thirty Years War (1618-1648)
  • Newton – Principal Mathematica
  • Witchcraft Trials in Salem – 1692
the palace at versailles
The Palace at Versailles
  • Hall of Mirrors
    • Extravagance
  • Versailles
    • Landscaping
baroque music
Baroque Music
  • Composers:
  • Monteverdi
  • Arcangelo Corelli
  • Henry Purcell
  • Antonio Vivaldi
  • George Frideric Handel
  • Johann Sebastian Bach
baroque orchestra
Baroque Orchestra
  • 10-40 musicians
  • Upper Strings –
  • 1st and 2nd Violin,
  • Viola
  • Basso Continuo
  • harpsichord plus cello,
  • double bass
  • or bassoon
  • flutes
  • oboes
  • recorders


  • trumpets
  • horns
  • trombones
  • Percussion
  • timpani/kettle drums)
baroque opera
Baroque Opera
  • began as a combo of dance scenes, lyrical music and plot based upon courtly love.

a French critic, late 1600s said:

“Opera is a bizarre affair made up of poetry and music, in which the poet and the musician, each equally obstructed by the other, give themselves no end of trouble to produce a wretched work.”

how evil is opera
How evil is opera??

Opera was illegal in Rome in the early 1700s.

an English critic, 1872:

Opera is to be regarded

“musically, philosophically, and ethically, as an almost unmixed evil.”

baroque instrumental music
Baroque Instrumental Music
  • This is the first time that we see instrumental music sharing the same stature as vocal music.
  • For the first time, there was a clear separation of Vocal and Instrumental music
baroque instrumental practice
Baroque Instrumental Practice
  • There were no ‘classics’, so contemporary composers were very prolific
  • Virtuosity (music that shows off the technical skills of the performer)
keyboard music
Keyboard Music
  • Equal tempered tuning
keyboard instruments
Keyboard Instruments
  • Three main instruments
    • Organ: sacred venues and some home chapels
      • Tracker Action
      • Great, positive, and portative organ
    • Harpsichord: basso continuo for orchestra and dance music. Solo instrument. Strings plucked by a Plectrum.
    • Clavichord: strings struck by hammers made originally from bone. Precursor to the piano.

Harpsichord, ca. 1675Made by Michele TodiniRome, Italy

  • Instrument building families
    • Stradivarius, Guarneri, and Amati
  • Strings
    • Cat gut
    • Slightly different playing technique….bowing
  • Woodwinds: mellow sound as opposed to a more brassy sound in modern times.
  • Brass
    • Originally a military instrument for signals
    • Without valves
    • Key changes made by inserting longer or shorter crooks in the horn.
the life of j s bach
The Life of J.S. Bach
  • Born in Eisenach, Germany, which was also the birthplace of Martin Luther.
  • Bach’s family supplied musicians (agents)
    • The Bach family was made up of more than 70 composers and performers in Germany from the 16th to the early 19th centuries.
  • Orphaned at age of 10, raised by his older brother.
  • Brother was an organist and Bach’s first music teacher (family apprenticeship)
bach prolific complex
Bach: prolific & complex
  • Wrote over 1000 musical pieces in every genre except opera
  • Cantatas (1 per week for 8 years)
  • Public complained for his flowery music
  • Musicians felt his

music too difficult

bach s signature
Bach’s Signature

J.S.Bach (musical) cross. Bach signed himself with a single note

(using 4 different pitches)

B: Left staff (treble clef)

A: Upper staff (tenor clef)

C: Right staff (alto clef)

H: Lower staff (treble clef)

bach s work
Bach’s Work
  • Church Musician
    • Write music for services
    • Play organ
    • Teach choirs
    • Teach soloists
    • Conduct orchestra, choirs
  • Court Musician
    • Wrote music for entertainment
    • Wrote commissioned pieces
  • School teacher
  • Organ teacher
  • Organ construction consultant
  • Composer—sacred & secular music
  • Husband/father
This is a picture of one of the churches in Leipzig where Bach worked. He was responsible for all music in all 4 churches in the town.
  • St. Thomas Church and School
“Since the best man could not be obtained, mediocre ones would have to be accepted.”

-Leipzig town council member commenting on the hiring of Bach


This brings Bach’s total of children to 20!!!

  • In 1707, Bach married his cousin, Maria Barbara. They had 7 children. She died in 1721.
  • The same year, he married Anna Magdalena Wilken, who was a professional singer. They ended up having 13 more children during their marriage.

It is interesting to see that Bach did not travel much during his lifetime and stayed within a small area of Germany.








Born 1685






Bach’s life and work

By 1748 Bach was nearly blind from cataracts.
  • In March and April of 1750, he was operated on by the English oculist John Taylor. The operations and the treatment that followed them may have hastened Bach's death.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach died on July 28, 1750.

Did you know?

Bach shares his birth year with G.F.Handel. Handel also had cataract surgery performed by oculist John Taylor.

American composer, Edward MacDowell said,

"Bach and Handel were in every way quite different, except that both were born in the same year and killed by the same doctor”.

george fredric handel
George Fredric Handel
  • born in Halle, Germany
  • Father was a wealthy barber/surgeon that believed that Handel should never enter the music field.
  • Born Georg Friedrich Händel, Handel anglicized the spelling of his name after becoming a British citizen in 1727.
  • Handel never married.
He traveled to London to stage his opera, which was very well received

The next time he went to London, he just stayed

He was dismissed by the Elector of Hanover

The elector of Hanover, was crowned King George I of England in 1714.


handel s water music 1717
Handel’s Water Music 1717
  • An offering to King George I after irritating His Serene Highness.
  • Music for an outing on the Thames river.
  • His former salary (in Hanover) was doubled
  • Baroque vocal piece.
  • Multi-movement
  • First oratorios were sacred operas.
  • Eventually stripped of staging and costumes etc.
  • At the end of the Baroque it was simply a “non-staged event.”
  • Middle and late oratorio used no acting, staging, costumes. -- Concert version.
  • Based upon a biblical story
messiah 1742
Messiah (1742)
  • Premiered in Dublin, Ireland.
  • Composed in 24 days.
  • Has been performed every year since its premiere in 1742.
  • Libretto: Biblical verses divided in three parts: Christmas, Easter, Redemption
concert etiquette for messiah
Concert etiquette for Messiah
  • Why stand at the Hallelujah Chorus.
  • Tradition or Religious significance?
  • King George
the top 10 possible reasons
the Top 10 (possible) reasons
  • the king was awakened by the loud chords of the beginning of the chorus
  • he was tired of sitting
  • he was hard of hearing and thought they were playing “God Save the King”
  • he had gout and stood for relief
  • he arrived late and all stood when he entered
he had hemorrhoids and stood for relief
  • he had to go to the bathroom
  • he mistook the words “And he shall reign forever and ever” to be a personal tribute
  • he thought the chorus was so splendid that he assumed it marked the end of the show
  • he was actually moved and inspired to stand
handel s last years
Handel’s last years
  • he lost his eyesight during the last years of his life
  • He had the same physician who treated Bach!
Handel is the greatest composer who ever lived. I would bare my head and kneel at his grave.

- Ludwig Van Beethoven

antonio vivaldi 1678 1741
Antonio Vivaldi: 1678 –1741
  • Composer in one of four of the most important music schools of Italy (and Europe)
  • Called ‘The Red Priest’ because of his red hair
vivaldi s musical style
Vivaldi’s Musical Style
  • Vivaldi is credited for helping to free instrumental style from vocal style.
  • Each piece is used as a teaching tool to create virtuosity in the players of the orphanage and music school.
  • Most famous piece: The Four Seasons