Banner Year for Baroque Composers

[The English word baroque is derived from the Italian barocco, meaning ‘bizarre,’ though probably ‘exuberant’ would be a better translation more accurately reflecting the sense. The usage of this term originated in the 1860s to describe the highly decorative style of 17th and 18th century religious and public buildings in Germany and Italy. One might legitimately ask, What is the essence of baroque music? Baroque music expresses order, the fundamental order of the universe – yet it is always lively and tuneful!]

What follows is a trifecta, as it were, of the exuberant European musical exemplars of 1865:

Georg Friederich Händel (original German name later Anglicized to George Friderick Handel) was born on February 23 in 1685 – a banner year indeed for baroque composers – in Halle on the Saale river in Thuringia, Germany. His father Georg Handel was an eminent surgeon.
Well-known Works:
The Messiah, Water Music, and Music for the Royal Fireworks – of this 5-movement work here on YouTube is the Overture. [The fireworks in the video were shot over the Danube in Budapest.]

February 23, 1685-April 14, 1759

This suite for wind instruments was written under contract of George II of Great Britain for the fireworks in London’s Green Park on April 27, 1749. It celebrated the end of the War of the Austrian Succession and the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) in 1748.

Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21, 1685, the son of Johann Ambrosius, court trumpeter for the Duke of Eisenach and director of the musicians of the town of Eisenach in Thuringia. For many years, members of the Bach family throughout Thuringia had held positions such as organists, town instrumentalists, or cantors, and the family name enjoyed a reputation for musical talent.

Well-known Works: Double Violin Concerto, Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, B Minor Mass, The Unaccompanied Cello Suites and here on YouTube the popular Air on a G String.
March 21, 1685-July 28, 1750

October 26, 1985-July 23, 1757

Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti was born in Naples on October 26, 1685. The high rank of his godparents is proof of the esteem in which his father, Alessandro Scarlatti, was held as maestro di cappella. Domenico’s musical gifts developed with an almost prodigious rapidity.

Well-known Works: Essercizi per Gravicembalo, i.e., sonatas for harpsichord. These ‘exercises’ numbering over 500, represent the first flowering of homophonic music (i.e., where one voice, often the highest, plays a distinct melody, and the accompanying voices work together to articulate an underlying harmony), the beginning of a modern technique in writing for and performing on a keyboard instrument. Listen now to Martha Argerich perform, as an encore at a 2008 concert, Scarlatti’s exhilarating Sonata in d minor K.141.

References: Wikipedia, Encyclopedia of Concert Music by David Ewen

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