the baroque period 1600 to 1750. “baroque age” term came from the language of art and it refers...

The Baroque Period 1600 to 1750

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The Baroque Period

1600 to 1750

“Baroque Age” term came from the language of art and it refers to the type of culture of that period.

Arts: Baroque ( from the Portuguese language meaning “an irregular shaped pearl”) is characterized by its theatrical, elaborate, and grandiose style.

Two trends:

The rise of England as a world power through her acquisition of colonies and territories

The growth of France as the cultural center of Europe

King Louis XIV

“The Sun King”

(1638 – 1715)

Born on September 5, 1638 to King Louis XIII and Anne of Austria.

Sun King because he was born on Sunday, the day of the sun.

23 years after a childless life

Known as the “Louis-Dieudonne” (Louis-God-given)

Paternal grandparents: Henri IV and Marie de’ Medici

Maternal grandparents: Hagsburgs- Phillip III of Spain and Margaret of Austria

King Louis XIV marked the Baroque period in France. He put an end to the crudeness in his court life requiring his noblemen to be polished and refined. He demanded that all be trained in social graces.

Women, who played an important part in his court, were elegantly dressed with elaborate wigs. The women presided over important social institutions in which music, poetry, drama, prose and art were cultivated in the grand Italian classical themes, ideas and methods.

France Cultural Center King Louis XII gained more power and was able to aid the Protestant centers during the Thirty Years’ war.

King Louis XIV became absolute ruler with no check on his power.

Classical culture reached its height during the reign of Louis XIV. He encouraged the development of painting, architecture, music, and literature by giving royal commissions.

France became the center of the arts during his reign.

Baroque is an artistic style prevalent from the late 16th century to early 18th century.

Popularity and success of the Baroque style was encouraged by the Roman Catholic church- Council of Trent. The Council demanded that the arts should communicate religious themes in direct and emotional involvement.

Classical culture reached its height during the reign of Louis XIV. He encouraged the development of painting, architecture, literature and music.


1. Exuberant and dynamic design

2. Age of royal and religious pageantry which affected art.

3. Theatrical and elaborate but also rich and magnificent.


1. Extravagant richness in color and style

2.Characterized by curves, voluminous figures, open space, illusions and de-emphasis of balanced perspective.


Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640)

o Flemish painter

o Used a painterly technique

o Subjects – human conflict, landscapes full of space, light, and growths of nature.

o Idealized feminine physical beauty


Italian Sculptor and Architect

Considered most outstanding of the period

Excessively ornate and dramatic religious statures.

Sculpture was architectonic ( designed as part of the architecture such as fountains, facades, and monuments.)


Churches – a series of curves and waves which appear irrational because there were no measurable surfaces or straight lines.

Space is immeasurable with no beginning or ending.

Curves appear to go in and out

Windows were placed in weird places


• Death of Tudor Queen Elizabeth (1603)

•James VI (I of England) of Scotland became King establishing the Stuart line of rulers.

•Civil War broke out

•Oliver Cromwell, a Puritan leader, gained control

•Charles was beheaded and the rest of the Stuart line fled to France

•Puritans, always against the theatre, closed what they considered “dens of iniquity” in 1642

•Charles II regained control of England in 1660

known as the Restoration period.

•Elizabethan Theatres had been torn down

•New theatres – inside, aprons, proscenium arch, flats were used, candles and oil lamps used for lighting, and women were allowed to perform

•Plays for sophisticated aristocracy- foolish comedies.

•Technology of theatre- pulleys and riggings were invented and are used today

•Restoration ended in 1737 when Parliament passed the Licensing Act. It limited London’s Playhouses to two – Covent Garden and Drury Lane. All the rest were illegal.

•Legitimate theatre - live


1. Instrumental music broadened from compositions for music mainly for dance and vocal accompaniment to the writing of instrumental pieces in all idioms for musical performance.

2. Old church modes were gradually replaced with major and minor modes – emphasis on tonality.

3. Secular music attracted more attention.

Elements of Music:

1. Melody – Homophonic music replaced polyphony in the beginning. J. S. Bach brought it back.

2. Harmony – Harmonic system – theory of chords and their use in accompaniment.

3. Rhythm – Accented rhythm

Secular vocal music

1. Vocal music developed into a true art form.

2. The Baroque opera was performed for the general public requiring paid admissions (for the first time in history), a custom which was to continue to the present day.

3. Concerts and operas were also performed for and supported by the nobility and royalty.

4. Schools of opera composition flourished.


1. Arias – solo songs – soloist displayed their virtuosity. More attention and popularity was accorded the soloist than the other performers.

2. The opera composers took cognizance of the quality of pleasant tone and stressed the vocal expression of the emotional content of the story along with tuneful melodies.


1. Instrumental music assumed a more prominent role in the church service.

2. Popular forms of church music:

Oratorio - sacred composition for soloists, chorus and orchestra – the religious counterpart of opera. Highest state of development in the music of George Frederick Handel at the end of the period.

Cantata – similar to the oratorio, much shorter and less elaborate. Several movements including arias, recitatives, duets and choruses.

Secular and church (Lutheran Chorale became very popular during this period.) J.S. Bach composed Cantatas for the Protestant Church.


1. Pianoforte (Piano) – improved hammer mechanism – invented in 1711 by Bartolommeo Cristofori of Padua, Italy. Harpsichord achieved its highest state of popularity during this period.

2. Violin – designed in 1600 by Gaspar da Salo from Brescia, Italy. Violin makers are Niccolo Amati, Antonio Stradivari, and Giuseppi Guarneri.

3. Organ – most important keyboard solo instrument during this period.


Instrumentation – expanded – flutes, oboes, bassoons, strings, keyboard and sometimes brass instruments.

Virtuoso performers – Violin, harpsichord, organ

Chamber music – compositions written for small ensembles with one instrument for each part.

Solo Sonata – instrumental soloist with accompaniment

Trio Sonata – Two violins and keyboard accompaniment or two violins, viola da gamba, and harpsichord

Chamber Sonata – (Sonata da camera)

A suite composed for small ensembles. One type of trio sonata

Sonata da Chiesa – (Church sonata) – A variation of the trio sonata. It was a composition for a chamber group made up of four movements (slow, fast, slow, fast)


Three movements with various dances

1. Allemande – 1st movement – moderate –German

2. Courante – 2nd movement – moderate –French/It.

3. Sarabande – 3rd movement – slow - Oriental


Minuet, Gavotte, Bourree, Pavan, Galliard, and Gigue


Fugue – instrumental and vocal – highly developed contrapuntal composition based on one or more themes which are imitated by the several parts.


Invention – a short contrapuntal piece written in two or three parts

Toccata – An improvisatory keyboard piece with elaborate ornamentation.

Prelude – A short piece in free form, originally an introductory piece; sometimes used as a keyboard exercise piece.

Johann Sebastian Bach ( 1685 – 1750)

George Fredrick Handel (1685 – 1759)