Before the classical period started, baroque music had been written in many forms by a multitude of composers over the course of almost 150 years. The music of this period seems to be more popular today than it was 400 years ago thanks to the endless catalog of music from composers and creators from all parts of the world.
Millions of people continue to be affected and inspired by the enchanting forms, unique musical styles and polyphonic textures that characterize the period. From well-known composers such as Bach and Sammartini, each of the composers and the music created helped to shape the period immensely. There are hundreds of works that were created during this period, however, some shone more brightly and others. Here are the most well-known baroque music pieces of the period:
Bach: 6 Suites for Unaccompanied Cello
It is speculated that Johann Sebastian Bach created six suites for cello in the period between 1717 and 1723. These are perhaps the most well-known baroque pieces ever created for solo cello. These suites are so popular among modern composers that they have been transcribed to ensure that they can be played by different instruments, not just the cello. A modern version to listen to is Yo Ma performance of Bach’s Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello.
Vivaldi: Four Seasons
The Four Seasons is probably Vivaldi’s most celebrated work, published in 1725 in a set of 12 concertos named the Test of Harmony and Invention or Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione. This is arguably the boldest program created in this period to depict a narrative or story.
Handel composed the Messiah in 24 days after he received a letter from a friend requesting that he compose a religious piece for Easter. The piece was not completed in time for Easter but it was finished in time for Christmas, which helps to explain why it became popular so quickly.
Scarlatti: Essercizi per Gravicembalo (Sonatas for Harpsichord)
Domenico Scarlatti’s father was Alessandro Scarlatti, who was also a well known Baroque composer. Domenico’s sonatas influenced many composers that came after him in the Classical period. Peter Jan Belder’s version of the harpsichord sonatas is worth listening to.
Sammartini: Symphony in D Major, J-C 14
Giovanni Battista Sammartini is considered by many proponents of the period to be the creator of the classical symphonic form, specifically the Sonata. His symphonies and thematic approach are the forerunners to Haydn and Mozart. Sammartini is one of the earliest composers of the symphony; so far, only 68 have survived.