Baroque style period
Baroque is a period of artistic style that
started around 1600 in Rome, Italy, and
spread throughout the majority of Europe.
baroque period, era in the history of the Western
arts roughly coinciding with the 17th century. Its
earliest manifestations, which occurred in Italy,
date from the latter decades of the 16th century,
while in some regions, notably Germany and
colonial South America, certain of its culminating
achievements did not occur until the 18th
century. The work that distinguishes the Baroque
period is stylistically complex, even
contradictory. In general, however, the desire to
evoke emotional states by appealing to the
senses, often in dramatic ways, underlies its
manifestations. Some of the qualities most
frequently associated with the Baroque are
grandeur, sensuous richness, drama, vitality,
movement, tension, emotional exuberance, and
a tendency to blur distinctions between the
The origin of the term
The term Baroque probably ultimately derived from the Italian word barocco, which was a term used by philosophers during the Middle Ages to describe an obstacle in schematic logic.
Subsequently the word came to denote any contorted idea or
involuted process of thought. Another possible source is the Portuguese word barroco (Spanish barrueco), used to describe an irregular or imperfectly shaped pearl, and this usage still survives in the jeweler’s term baroque pearl.
In art criticism the word Baroque came to be used to describe anything irregular, bizarre, or otherwise departing from
established rules and proportions. This biased view of 17thcentury art styles was held with few modifications by critics from Johann Winckelmann to John Ruskin and Jacob Burckhardt, and
until the late 19th century the term always carried the implication of odd, grotesque, exaggerated, and overdecorated. It was only with Heinrich Wölfflin’s pioneer study Renaissance und Barock (1888) that Baroque was used as a stylistic designation rather than as a term of thinly veiled abuse, and a systematic
formulation of the characteristics of Baroque style was achieved.
and literature in the Baroque period
One of the most dramatic turning points in the history of music occurred at the beginning of the 17th century, with Italy again leading the way. While the stile antico, the universal polyphonic style of the 16th century, continued, it was henceforth reserved for sacred music, while the stile moderno, or nuove musiche—with its emphasis on solo voice, polarity of the melody and the bass line, and interest in expressive harmony—developed for secular usage. The expanded vocabulary allowed for a clearer distinction between sacred and secular music as well as between vocal and instrumental idioms, and national differences became more pronounced. The Baroque period in music, as in other arts, therefore, was one of stylistic diversity. The opera, oratorio, and cantata were the most important new vocal forms, while the sonata, concerto, and overture were created for instrumental music. Claudio Monteverdi was the first great composer of the “new music.” He was followed in Italy by Alessandro Scarlatti and Giovanni Pergolesi. The instrumental tradition in Italy found its great Baroque composers in Arcangelo Corelli, Antonio Vivaldi, and Giuseppe Tartini. Jean-Baptiste Lully, a major composer of opera, and Jean Philippe Rameau were the masters of Baroque music in France. In England the total theatrical experience of the Stuart masques was followed by the achievements in vocal music of the German-born, Italian-trained George Frideric Handel, while his countryman Johann Sebastian Bach developed Baroque sacred music in Germany. Other notable German Baroque composers include Heinrich Schütz, Dietrich Buxtehude, and Georg Philipp Telemann.
The literature that may specifically be called
Baroque may be seen most characteristically
in the writings of...
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