1. One of the most striking and distinctive features of Baroque music is the principle of strong contrast and opposition of sonorities, typically achieved through division of the performance medium into two or more groups. This principle, know as the stile concertato, originated in the late 16th century and took on greater significance throughout the 17th century, culminating in the development of a new instrumental form that capitalized specifically on this important Baroque principle of composition. The Baroque Concerto is one of the most enduring instrumental genres in western music. (click for here for definitions of form and genre) then remind me to discuss the terms in class.

2. The use of musical forces in alternation has a very long history, but a group of late 16th and early 17th century Venetian composers in particular created some very dramatic works in which the antiphonal treatment, or the alternation of two or more performing forces, is the the central compositional element. In fact, throughout Europe, the architectural design of the vast cathedrals encouraged the development of the concertato style by making use of their impressive acoustical properties. The Cathedral of San Marco, in Venice was the leader of this style and its most famous composer were: Adrian Willaert (c1490-1562) considered the founder of Venetian school, his pupil, Andrea Gabrieli (1515-1586) and his pupil and nephew Giovanni Gabrieli (1557-1612).

3. It is in this Venetian School that the terms concerto and symphony first appeared as titles though their meanings were to be gradually transformed through the 17th century into what we assume when we speak of those forms today. Both terms were used loosely - the former indicating concertato principle and the latter merely the use of instruments.

4. By the 18th century the term concerto denoted an instrumental work of one of three types: the solo concerto for one soloist and orchestra, the concerto grosso for two or more soloists and orchestra, and the orchestral concerto for undivided orchestra. The solo concerto quickly became the favored type, but the concerto grosso represented the earliest essays in the new form.

5. The various types of concerto are most generally represented by three separate movements in a fast - slow - fast arrangement.

6. Of the pre-Bach concerto grosso repertoire the Twelve Concertos Opus 6 of Archangelo Corelli (1653-1713) are most important. His concerti grossi grew out of his application of the concertato principle to a genre he helped to perfect - the trio sonata.

7. Corelli's concertos are largely orchestrated trio sonata structures, and his twelve concertos may be divided into two groups: the first eight may be considered church concertos and the last four correspond to the chamber sonatas and are grouped under the titles Preludi, Allemande, Gigue, Corrente, Sarabande, gavotte e Minuetti Parte Seconda per camera.

8. In the solo category the concertos of Antonio Vivaldi are among the most popular throughout the mature Baroque era.


1. Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) born, and educated in Venice, and where, excepting frequent leaves of absence he largely made his name and career, is a composer whose fame rests on his more than 500 concertos. He published only 9 collections, however, representing some 84 concertos which provide a solid foundation from which to study his entire career and development.

2. About two-thirds of these (500) works are for a single solo instrument. The violin, with 230, is his favored and native instrument. Surprisingly the bassoon, which had only two keys at the time, is the next most frequently used instrument with almost 40 works. Following those are the concertos written for the cello (28), the oboe (20) and the flute (15).

3. There are 40 works for two soloists 25 of which are for two violins. About a half-dozen call for three or four violins, and there are perhaps two-dozen for various combinations of winds and strings as soloists.

4. Vivalidi followed in the footsteps of his predecessors in the form, namely Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709) who established the three-movement form, and Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751) who infused it with a melodic warmth of operatic derivation. Vivaldi was not a great innovator. His works are carefully planned and the structures are clearly defined. The dramatic tension between solo and tutti, often only hinted at by the earlier composers, come to full fruition in the concertos of Vivaldi. His style is one of impelling rhythmic vitality, varied texture, and his relatively spontaneous-sounding melodic ideas.

5. Most of his concertos are in the three-movement, fast-slow-fast scheme. About one-third have a first movement in the minor mode, and a distinct preference for middle movements in the minor is evident in about two-thirds of the concertos. The relationship of keys between movements is fairly flexible, with about one-third of the slow movements in the same key as the outer movements; slightly less frequently the relative major or minor is selected, and in still fewer cases the dominant or subdominant is used. E minor is a particular favorite for highly expressive slow movements.

6. Most of the opening movements are in ritornello form, which Torelli had introduced earlier. Ritornello form was developed as a convention in opera arias as an excellent means of highlighting the vocal soloist and providing unity through the use of recurrent thematic material in the orchestra.

7. The soloists in Vivaldi's concertos have more significant roles than in those of his predecessors. They are given highly decorative passage, lightly accompanied, making for marked contrast with the thematic tutti sections. This opposition augments the dramatic role of the soloist.

8. Though it is doubtful, Quantz implied that Vivaldi was among the first to use a 'terminal' cadenza (a cadenza which kills the performer in the last leading tone trill) in an Allegro movement. There are 9 fairly extensive cadenzas by Vivaldi - some quite simple, with a succession of broken chords over a dominant pedal. Some of the more complex involve thematic quotations from all three movements. This cadenza was usually inserted before the final recurrence of the ritornello, as an embellishment of the dominant to tonic cadence at that point, and the greater purpose of the cadenza was to display the virtuosity of the performer and the instrument. A late Mozart piano concerto (Bb) and from Beethoven's 2nd piano concerto on begin to use 'written out' cadenzas - the performance practice until that time was for the performer to improvise the cadenza.

9. Prior to Albinoni and Vivaldi, the concerto middle movement was short and often viewed as a transitional section between the weightier outer movements. Drawing upon the more dramatic music of opera, these Venetian composers intensified the slow movement, sometimes creating the sense that it is the high point of a work. In contrast with the fast movements, the slow middle movement is not generally in ritornello form.

10. The finale movements are similar in construction to the opening movements, but in comparison are lighter and more playful. They move very quickly and are generally the shortest of the three movements. A great many are set in triple meter and have a dance quality reminiscent of the final movement of the chamber sonata.

1. The greater number of Bach's orchestral works date from his tenure at the Cothen court beginning in 1717 and lasting until 1723 when he moved to his final position in Leipzig.

2. The most important orchestral work of this period was the collection of six concertos written for the private orchestra of Christian Ludwig, margrave of Brandenburg. The works were completed in 1721 and are Bach's earliest large orchestral works and his finest accomplishments in this field.

3. Ironically, the margrave's orchestra was rather meager and so in spite of the dedication it seems much more likely that Bach had in mind the rather large and illustrious orchestra of the court of Prince Leopold at Cothen.

4. The order of composition is a disputed subject. The Nos. 3 and 6 are usually placed early because of their homogenous string texture, and also because they along with No.1 share close structural and motivic ties with Italian models. Nos.2 and 4, with their heterogeneous instrumentation, point to a later period, and the more sophisticated use of the harpsichord as a solo instrument places No.5 still later.

5. These concertos hold a special place in the study of music history, for they are some of the most significant and most inspired concertos of the Baroque or any other era. They are also a virtual compendium of concerto practices, pointing out an array of ways suitable to achieving musical contrast.

6. Three are orchestral concertos while the other three are concerti grossi. The orchestral concertos (1, 3, 6,) show a systematic reduction in the obvious means of contrast: No.1 is richly scored for winds and strings, No.3 is scored for strings only in three groups, and No.6 requires still more limited resources of low strings only, essentially divided into two groups.

7. The concerti grossi, scored for string ripieno (group responsible for the ritornello) and varied concertinos (the soloists) of three or four players, are arranged in order of increasing concentration on a single soloist. In No.2 each of the highly contrasted instruments making up the concertino plays an important role, although the brilliant tone of the high trumpet tends to dominate. The solo violin of No.4 is supported by its concertino companions, two recorders. In the No.5 the harpsichord takes a significant step forward on its path to becoming a major concerto solo instrument, while the roles of flute and violin, the other members of the concertino, are reduced to less brilliant parts.

8. The frequent use of wind instruments in these concertos is a German trait as Italian models tended to use the orchestra to support bel canto lines of singers. The German tendency is toward a more colorful and varied orchestra.


1. This concerto grosso uses a concertino consisting of trumpet, recorder, oboe and violin, and a ripieno string orchestra with continuo.

2. It is treble dominated and coupled with the brilliant register of the trumpet make this work particularly bright and festive in nature.

3. The first movement is cast in ritornello form which is similar to rondo form in that it employs periodic returns of some thematic material separated by contrasting episodes. (In rondo the first theme usually returns in the tonic key, whereas in ritornello form the theme returns in different keys excepting first and last statements which define the tonic.) The solo sections of this concerto make use of both the ritornello material and introduce material associated exclusively with the solo group.

4. The trumpet's prominence is assured from the beginning when it accompanies the main theme by outlining the tonic triad and by climbing into its upper register to enunciate the dominant on repeated notes and in a strident trill. It is not formally introduced as a solo instrument until in plays the new theme in bar 21.

5. The trumpet is silent in the 2nd movement, Andante D minor (the original instrument cannot play in the new key), and surprisingly the strings are silent as well. The style is of intimate chamber music scored only for solo recorder, oboe, and violin with continuo.

6. The last movement is fugal and begins the exposition in the solo instruments with continuo support. The return of the trumpet provides strong contrast to the 2nd movement and a particularly brilliant conclusion as it states a theme very like the ritornello theme of the 1st movement at the very end of the work. to classical concerto