The Baroque era was a period of artistic and cultural flourishing in Europe, spanning from the
late 16th to the early 18th century. Characterized by its ornate and dramatic style, the Baroque
era left a lasting impact on art, architecture, and music.
In this article, we will talk about what this era really was all about. How this period of time not
only defined how we enjoy music today, but also the way we see the world.
Today, we are taking you back in time. But not back to this morning to check if you’ve forgotten
something or left the stove on. No, let’s do approx. 400 years to the late 16th century. You most
certainly didn’t forget anything in the (late) 16th century, so this promises to be a pleasant trip.
What on earth could have happened in the (still late) 16th century that was so important, we just
HAD to write an article about it? I mean, Beyonce wasn’t even alive back then, so why bother?
We’re talking about…*drumroll* (hold on to your hats, skirts and mustaches)
The Baroque times
Yeah! This is how we like to party!
First Things First: What WAS the Baroque time period anyway?
It’s a time in European history that spanned from the 16th century (but rather late) to the mid-
18th century and boys and girls: art was BOOMING. Architecture, music, paintings and doodles.
People just had a rush of creativity and did whatever they wanted.
(It was also the rise of absolute monarchs and everyone eventually lost it and started a war that
lasted for 30 years. But we’re here for the good stuff. It just needs mentioning that these things
can sometimes come hand in hand.)
What does the word Baroque even mean?
The word Baroque is derived from the Portuguese word “barroco” which means irregularly
shaped pearl. It was originally used to describe the ornate, complex style of art and architecture
that emerged in Italy in the 17th century. The term later came to be used to describe the music
of the same period. Just a fun fact right here.
What are some things everyone knows that stem from the Baroque era?
Just small stuff like
- The Palace of Versaille,
- The works of Rembrandt, Rubens and Bernini
- The development of the scientific method by Galileo Galilei and the small fact that our solar system revolves around the sun
- Issac Newtons little accident with an apple and the discovery of the concept of gravity
- Concerts (as we know them today…so there really wouldn’t be a Beyonce without the baroque era)
- Johann Sebastian Bach and the tunes he dropped that changed the world
- Antonio Vivaldi slammed down “Four Seasons” like it was the most normal thing in the world
- The violin (didn’t expect that one, did you?)
What did the Baroque period do to music?
It were emotional times, there is no denying. With everything that happened and how it
eventually lead up to one of the most important events in human history. (spoiler alert: The
Composers of that time definitely felt it too. Just listen to Bach‘s cello concertos and you will
understand, which is just one of many examples. Composers and musicians-artists were
expected to add their own style to a piece that could show their talent and skill. This is called
“ornamentation” and it was hot hot hot. Everything got more experimental, more colorful, more
layered. Just look at instruments like the violin, which was born in the baroque era.
Here is an example of Bachs Partitia in E, played by the incredibly talented Vanessa Mae (and
filmed on a potato…we apologize…we also didn’t film it). Do you hear how she hops between
so many different melodies, jumps octaves, the tempo. Everything about this piece screams: I
am the best musician in the universe and you should be crying right now.
Which composers are the most relevant for the Baroque era?
Now we’re asking the important questions. Because if you’ve reached this website, if you’ve sat
in one of our chairs and listened to one of our string quartet concertos, you’ll know we kind of
care a little bit about music.
Let’s do some musical name dropping:
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time,
Bach’s works include masterpieces such as the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg
Variations, and the Mass in B Minor.
- George Frideric Handel: Known for his operas, oratorios, and instrumental works,
Handel’s music is characterized by its grandeur, dramatic intensity, and vocal virtuosity.
His most famous works include the oratorio Messiah and the Water Music suite.
- Antonio Vivaldi: Known for his virtuosic violin concertos. His best-known work is The
Four Seasons, a set of violin concertos that depicts the changing seasons.
- Claudio Monteverdi: Considered one of the pioneers of opera, Monteverdi’s works
helped to establish the genre as a major form of musical expression. His operas, such
as Orfeo and The Coronation of Poppea, are still performed today.
- Henry Purcell: A prominent English composer of the Baroque era, Purcell’s works
include the opera Dido and Aeneas and the anthem “Thou Knowest, Lord, the Secrets of
I think this doesn’t really need any further explaining.
What are famous traces of the Baroque era in Vienna, Austria?
So you’re in Vienna, one of the most influential cities in the realm of classical music and arts to
this day. And you’re about to visit the St. Peter’s Church, because you heard that the string
quartet concertos playing the most important pieces of baroque music, from the most influential
composers of all time (here’s our ticket shop just in case). You should know, just to add to the
flair, what happened here. What happened in Vienna in the baroque era.
Be swept away:
- St. Peters’s Church (Peterskirche): Built in the early 18th century, designed by Lukas
von Hildebrandt, one of the most prominent architects of the baroque era.
- The Schönbrunn Palace: Built in the 18th century, the Schönbrunn Palace is a
magnificent example of Baroque architecture. It was once the summer residence of the
Habsburg emperors. The most infamous empress of Austria lived here. Yes, our
Elisabeth or Sisi (or Lisi? Nobody really knows).
- St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom): The cathedral of St. Stephen’s is a prominent
landmark in Vienna, known for its towering spires and ornate Baroque interior. The
cathedral is home to many works of art and sculpture from the Baroque era.
Overall, the Baroque era was a time of great creativity and artistic expression, characterized by
ornate, dramatic works that continue to captivate and inspire audiences today. Its legacy can be
seen in the art, architecture, and music of Europe and beyond, and its influence continues to be
felt in contemporary culture. In other words, it was WILD.
Let’s finish this article with some great news: You can experience baroque music first hand in
one of the best locations on this very earth: The St. Peter’s Church.
Take a look at our program here and get your ticket today.