Baroque Music Timeline

Portrait of Jacopo Peri (1561-1633), Italian composer, organist and tenor, by Bernardo Buontalenti (1536-1608)
Portrait of Jacopo Peri (1561-1633), Italian composer, organist and tenor, by Bernardo Buontalenti (1536-1608). DEA PICTURE LIBRARY / Getty Images

The word "baroque" comes from the Italian word "barocco" which means bizarre. This word was first used to describe the style of architecture mainly in Italy during the 17th and 18th century. Later on, the word baroque was used to describe the music styles of the 1600s to the 1700s. The Baroque period was a time when composers experimented with form, styles, and instruments. This period saw the development of opera and instrumental music.

The violin was also considered an important musical instrument during this time.

  • 1573 - The first known meeting of the Florentine Camerata, a group of musicians who came together to discuss various subjects including the arts. It is said that the members were interested in reviving the Greek dramatic style. Both the monodies and the opera are believed to have come out from their discussions and experimentation. Some of the known members of the Florentine Camerata are Jacopo Peri and Claudio Monteverdi
  • 1597 - The period of the early opera which will last until 1650. Opera is generally defined as a stage presentation or work that combines music, costumes, and scenery to relay a story. Most operas are sung, with no spoken lines. During the Baroque period, operas were derived from ancient Greek tragedy and there was often an overture at the beginning, a solo part and both an orchestra and chorus are present. Some examples of early operas are "Eurydice" which had two settings; one by Jacopo Peri and the other by Giulio Caccini. Another example is "Orpheus" and "Coronation of Poppea" by Claudio Monteverdi.
  • 1600 - Start of monody which will last until the 1700s. Monody refers to an accompanied solo music. Examples of early monody can be found in the book Le Nuove Musiche by Giulio Caccini. The said book is a collection of songs for the figured bass and solo voice, it also included madrigals. Le Nuove Musiche is considered one of Caccini's most important work.
  • 1650 - During this era, musicians did a lot of improvisation. The basso continuo or figured bass is music created by combining keyboard music and one or more bass instruments. The period from 1650 to 1750 is known as the Age of Instrumental Music where other forms of music developed including the suite and sonata.
  • 1700 - Until 1750 this is known as the High Baroque period. Italian opera became more expressive and expansive. The composer/violinist Arcangelo Corelli became known and music for the harpsichord was also given importance. Bach and Handel are known as the figures of the late Baroque music. Other forms of music like the canons and fugues evolved during this time.