Famous Baroque Composers


Great Composers of the Baroque Period

As is my usual, I’ll try to have youtube links beneath each composer’s bio for your enjoyment pleasure; however, you can also surf youtube on your own, as there are myriads of performances of music by all the composers mentioned in this article.

Famous Baroque Composers - In today’s world, many of us like everything to be big - big cars, big houses, big foods, and finally, big orchestras - yes, big orchestras. Is it any wonder why Baroque music has taken a back seat to music from the Romantic Period? ...the Romantics Period is coming...they came in the 19th century and conquered it. The Romantic Period in music produced very large size orchestras, starting out with Berlioz, Liszt, Wagner and finally culminating with Strauss and Mahler. People pay big bucks these days to see classical music (so called classical music), but Tchaikovsky and Dvorak make the cash register ring more often than Vivaldi or Handel can ever hope to do. Even when Bach and Vivaldi are performed, they morph the orchestras a bit, so as to give the impression that when they were around, their music would have been played by 40-50 professor orchestras, instead of 8-10 players that were around then, which is how their music was actually performed - not likely!... So, what happens? Most classical concerts given in the USA are of music from the Romantics, not Classical or Baroque - Romantics!

This article is exclusively devoted to Famous Baroque composers. The Baroque Period unofficially ended in 1750, with the death of its premiere composer, Johann Sebastian Bach.

When the Baroque Period was in full swing 300 years ago, orchestra size varied, but it was rare to see a Baroque orchestra/instrumental concert with more than 18 performers - 18 musicians was considered a big size orchestra in the Baroque Period, unlike the Romantic Period, where some orchestras could easily reach 180+ musicians, especially if you include a chorus.

Georg Philipp Telemann 1681 - 1767
Today, most music scholars will argue you a good run for your money if you dare to place Telemann above Vivaldi, Bach or Handel; nevertheless, Telemann was the undisputed god of his day. He came from a well to do family. Telemann was taught Greek and Latin at an early age. He was prohibited to study music, yet Telemann study music in secret and eventually became the foremost composer of his day, surpassing all the other Baroque composers. Telemann also studied law at the Liepzig University, but eventually gave it up for music. Even in secret, as a young teenager, Telemann was composing music in secret and making money.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkrm2CTxF28 trumpet Concerto

Antonio Vivaldi 1678 - 1741
Not quite as prolific as Telemann, but very talented nonetheless. The Four Seasons, has virtually become a cliché of so called classical music. So much so, that we oftentimes forget just how beautiful the 4 concertos really are. Vivaldi was born on March 14, the day of a horrid earthquake in Venice, Italy. Vivaldi was quite gifted and is considered today to have been one of the greatest masters of the Baroque. - As brilliant and talented as Vivaldi was, he died in poverty, although he had been quite successful in his youth.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-dYNttdgl0&feature=related Spring Concerto

George Frideric Handel 1865 - 1759
Another brilliant musician and composer of the Baroque Period. And, the man responsible for the very famous oratorio The Messiah, arguably the greatest oratorio of the Baroque Period, perhaps of all times. Other notable works by Handel are: Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks, which were written for British Royal Celebrations, the country where Handel built most of his fame and reputation in, even if he was German by birth.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usfiAsWR4qU Hallelujah

Domenico Scarlatti 1685 - 1757
One of the most important forerunners to modern keyboard music. Scarlatti wrote numerous sonatas for the harpsichord, which would eventually influence the Romantic piano music of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin and Brahms.

Johann Sebastian Bach 1685 - 1750
Bach is not only the Baroque Period’s premiere composer, but along with Mozart and Beethoven, he’s considered one of music’s three “super geniuses.” Telemann, Vivaldi and Handel, were much more innovative and experimental than Bach was; however, Bach’s greatness rests mainly and because, of his exceptional use of chromaticism and very refined counterpoint, two aspects of music which would later culminate with the music of Beethoven, Wagner, Brahms, Strauss and Mahler. Bach was also not financially as successful a composer as Vivaldi, D. Scarlatti, F. Couperin, Handel---and absolutely no way---not even close to Telemann! All said, Bach was surprisingly quite successful as a organist and harpsichordist. Bach’s music was dead and buried with him when he died in 1750. Had it not been for Mendelssohn and a few other composers who gave revival and recitals of his music, we may not know who Bach is today. The Brandenburg Concertos and Saint Matthew Passion, are arguably the greatest musical accomplishments of the Baroque period---hands down!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDrLX7FXba4 Brandenburg No. 4

Francois Couperin 1688 - 1733
One of the greatest masters of the French Baroque. Couperin was also a virtuoso harpsichordist and wrote many solo works for this instrument.

Arcangelo Corelli 1653 - 1713
Another master of the Italian Baroque, who is always overshadowed by Vivaldi. Nonetheless, he was an exceptional musician who is not mentioned as much as she should these days.

Jean Joseph Mouret 1682 - 1738
Another master of the French Baroque, as well as the man responsible for the musical theme to Masterpiece Theater. A famous and successful composer in his day who has now been reduced to a “one hit wonder” - “Rondeau” (French word for Rondo) from “Symphonies and Fanfares for the King’s Supper.” What can I say? French Royalty food is so good that it requires this type of music in the background to eat it....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZib08sHrwE - Rondeau

Jean Baptiste Lully 1632 - 1687
Another very successful master of the French Baroque, who was close a friend of Moliere. Moliere helped Lully stage some of his massive operatic and ballet output....

Marc Antoine Charpentier 1643 - 1704
Ironically enough, another master of the French Baroque who was also a personal friend of Moliere. Just like Lully, Moliere also helped Charpentier stage some of his large operatic and ballet output. In fact, Moliere died while performing in one of Charpentier’s ballets. Makes you wonder how a busy genius like Moliere had any time left to write plays?....

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Comments 16 comments

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

Handel wrote so much wonderful music for singers--I sing and teach my students quite a bit of his work Lovely hub!

Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 4 years ago

Interesting short writeup of Baraoque composers. Telemann composed mainly the trumpet concertos, did he ?

jamila sahar profile image

jamila sahar 4 years ago

Great hub, naturally my favorite is JS Bach, I am currently working on bwv 915 toccata in g minor, which is quite a finger twister and not often played because of this. i fell in love with the ten page fugue at the end of the toccata, and had to learn it. there is so much to say about JS Bach, so i will paraphrase my professor who said JS Bach is the old testament for pianists!

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I've sung music composed by Handel the most often. I am a fan of his music, as well as Bach and Vivaldi. I am familiar with Telemann and Scarlotti, but not the others. I'm guessing if I were an instrumentalist, I would know them all.

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Hello Audrey, yes Handel is truly a wonder of the Baroque period. Even Bernard Shaw, who had little to say about anyone except Wagner, Mozart and Beethoven, praises Handel very highly. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

Hello Ingenira, it's funny you ask what Telemann wrote? The real question should be what didn't he write? I remember back in the days when music stores actually made money - heck existed for that matter. There was a big classical music record store in Westwood, CA and another one in West Hollywood (Los Angeles). The place had sections and shelves for different composers. I still remember Telemann had the largest section by a long shot! Thank you for stopping by and commenting on my article.

Take care you two and God Bless


John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Hello jamila, wow, love that quote. I'd like to paraphrase your teacher by saying that Bach is also the old testament for composers - hands down! Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

Hello Flora, yes, you're familiar with the most famous of them all. You make a good point though, there'a a big difference between being an instrumentalist and a vocalist. Few composers in history have managed to be exceptional in both fields. Bach, of course being an exception to the rule, but many were only good in one thing and one thing only.... Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

Take care you two and God Bless


georgiecarlos profile image

georgiecarlos 4 years ago from Philippines

Great hub! I love the list of composers you chose for this topic. I hope you write more about the different composers who made an impact on music and culture!

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Thanks georgiecarlos for stopping by and commenting on my hub. I really appreciated.

Take care


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 4 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

I love Baroque music. And you seem to have listed all the best here. It's the only period I can listen to while doing something else, because of the repetitiveness. Otherwise, being musically trained, my brain tunes in on all the techniques and surprises the (best) composers of other periods used and how they developed musical ideas. Sometimes it's a curse. I have to listen. I can't help it.

Thanks for an interesting hub. Love the Brandenburg Concertos. Spent a lot of time teaching them to HS students.

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Hi alekhouse, thanks again for stopping by and commenting on my hub. I truly appreciated.

Ditto! Baroque and Classical are not very sexual or emotional to say the very least. One of the things that strikes me about Bach, are his fans: Wittgenstein, Einstein and von Braun, etc... Verdi, Tchaikovsky and Mahler make you feel like a highschool boy ogling at the cheerleader. For you, possibly the captain of the football/baseball team...LOL

Take good care and thanks again


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 4 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

John, You're so right, except I never went for the football types. I was more into the creative ones or even the creative intellectuals....I started out as an Art major, before I switched to music.

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

You seem like the creative type. I'm quite impressed with you knowledge of music.

Thanks again and take care


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

What a wonderful share John.. you know they say and I have nothing to prove it but what Ive seen on music television that so many music scores and bites used today came from these composers.. yeah? LOL thanks for sharing my friend

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Hi Frank and thanks for stopping by.

Yes, the Baroque Period changed music for ever. However, an important caviat: music was not considered an emotional/feeling type of art when these folks existed. Logic was at the core of music then. It was Beethoven the first one to say _________ I'm going to express my personal feelings and pain and change music forever, and that he did.

Take good care


JOEY 3 years ago


John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Thank you Joey and likewise!

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