Music in History

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Baroque forms


A) With regard to accompanied vocal music . The term "concerto" was first used during 16th century to refer to vocal compositions accompanied by orchestra or instrumental music, in order to distinguish these pieces from the style of unaccompanied, a capella music. Giovanni Gabrielli's "in ecclesiis" and  Heinrich Schutz' s " Saul, Saul, was verfolgst du mich"  were considered to be "concerti".  The term was used until the Baroque period:  for example the " kleine Geistliche Concerte"  of Heinrich Schuetz (1636) and several Bach cantatas were called "concerti".

B)  With regard to instrumental music.  As Willi Apel indicates, during 17th century  the term was  also referring  to instrumental music meaning "contrasting performing bodies playing in alteration".  Some authors called this style of the 17th century  "modern style" (stile moderno). During  1620-1670 the use or non use of the term "concerto" for a composition  was not significant since several terms were in use  without clear distinction, with regard to the style and genre, for example: sonata, canzona, sinfonia.
The Baroque concerto reached its peak between 1670-1750. There were  three types: concerto ripieno, concerto grosso and  solo concerto. The latter, a composition for a soloist and orchestra is the youngest of the three types.

                                     Vivaldi: Concerto Grosso in D minor

Concerto grosso.
It is the most important of the three types of Baroque concerto. Regarding  the orchestra, it consists of a small group of solo instruments (concertino) and a larger  orchestra performing  in contrast .  The concertino usually consists of two violins and a basso continuo (cello and harpsichord). Baroque trio sonata is consisted of the same set  of instruments.  The orchestra consists of strings (sometimes, later, winds were included). Corelli's concerti, op 6, are  among such compositions . Most of these  have 5 or more parts.
Antonio Vivaldi introduced  the schema: allegro-adagio-allegro, that is, 3 parts. He  also rejected the contrapuntal writing of  earlier composers while he  adopted a new style, more rhythmic and dynamic. Brandenburg concertos of  Bach and the great concerti  of Handel op 6 (1740), incorporate some  elements of Vivaldi's style,  though they  maintained  the  large number of parts, like Corelli.
see also: ripieno

Willi Apel, Harvard dictionary of music, second edition, eighth printing.

Arcangelo Corelli Concerto Grosso Op 6 No 1 D major

             Handel Concerto Grosso No.8 Op.6 in C minor HWV 326

                             Bach Concierto de Brandenburgo nº2

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