Chapter 9:
Toward Late Baroque Instrumental Music
Towards Late Baroque Instrumental Music
• About 80% of classical music is instrumental
• Instrumental music became prominent in the 17thcentury with the rising popularity of the violin
• Use of expressive gestures that had developed in vocal
• Doctrine of the Affections also applied to instrumental
– Instrumental music could tell a tale or paint a scene
The Baroque Orchestra
• Orchestra: An ensemble of music, organized around a
core of strings, with added woodwinds and brasses,
playing under a leader
• Origins in 17th-century Italy and France
– Harpsichord for basso continuo
• Most Baroque orchestras were small, usually with no
more than 20 performers, each with individual parts
– Could swell to as many as 80 for special occasions at
artistocratic and royal courts
• King Louis XIV at Versailles, with composer JeanBaptiste Lully (1632-1687) as conductor
• New musical genre: French Overture
– Slow introduction, fast second section
Pachelbel and His Canon
• Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706): Known in his day as a
prolific composer for harpsichord and organ
• Canon in D:
– Use of imitative canon with three voices plus basso
continuo that unfolds over time
– First movement of a two-movement suite
– Use of basso ostinato repeated 28 times
– Bass line used by later classical composers as well as pop
Corelli and the Trio Sonata
• Originated in Italy
• Baroque Sonata: A collection of instrumental
movements, each with its own mood and tempo, but all
in the same key
– Chamber Sonata (sonata da camera): featured dance
movements, such as “allemande,” “sarabande,” “gavotte,”
or “gigue;” four movements: slow-fast-slow-fast
• Solo Sonata: Written either for solo keyboard instrument
or solo melody instrument (such as violin)
• Trio Sonata: Soloist and two basso continuo performers
– Sometimes a fourth instrument, harpsichord, is added to
Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)
• Composer-virtuoso who made Baroque solo and trio
sonatas internationally popular
• Worked in Rome as a teacher, composer, and violin
• Works admired by Johann Sebastian Bach in Leipzig,
François Couperin in Paris, and Henry Purcell in
• Modern sounding harmony
– Functional harmony: each chord has a specific role or
– Use of ascending chromatic bass lines: increases the
sense of direction and cohesiveness
Trio Sonata in C Major, Opus 4, No. 1 (1694)
• Chamber sonata for two violins and basso continuo
(harpsichord and cello)
• Four movements: Preludio, Corrente, Adagio, Allemanda
• Use of a walking bass: moves stepwise either up or down
Vivaldi and the Baroque Concerto
• Concerto: An instrumental genre in which one or more
soloists play with and against a larger orchestra
– Solo concerto: one soloist
– Concerto grosso: small group of soloists (concertino)
– Tutti: full orchestra
• Three movements: fast-slow-fast
• Ritornello form: Main theme (ritornello) returns again
and again; alternates with solo, virtuosic sections
• Popularity peaked about 1730
• Solo concerto continued to be cultivated during the
Classical and Romantic period
– Became a showcase for a single soloist
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
• Most influential and prolific composer of Baroque
• Virtuoso violinist and composer
– Wrote over 450 concertos
• Ordained as a priest
– Nicknamed “The Red Priest” due to his red hair
• Taught at the Ospedale della Pietà (an orphanage and
convent for young women) in Venice from 1703-1740
– Sunday performances for the wealthy and the
Violin Concerto in E Major, Op. 8, No. 1,
• The Four Seasons: set of four concertos that depict
the feelings, sounds, and sights of the seasons
– Vivaldi wrote an “illustrative sonnet” for each
• “Spring” Concerto, first movement (early 1700’s)
– Ritornello form
– Highly descriptive writing
– Terraced dynamics
– Use of melodic sequence

Chapter Five: Baroque Art and Music