From The Library… A Baroque Festival

This week’s From The Library pro­gramme fea­tures a Baroque extrav­a­gan­za — many of the con­tents of which would have been famil­iar, if not to Jane Austen, then cer­tain­ly to many of her musi­cal­ly-inclined con­tem­po­raries.

Although the Baroque era had passed by her time, It was still fash­ion­able, espe­cial­ly in sacred musi­cal cir­cles and in the con­ser­va­to­ry, and was seen by ear­ly clas­si­cal com­posers as rep­re­sent­ing a goal of per­fec­tion.

The term Baroque is used to des­ig­nate the style of music com­posed dur­ing a peri­od that extends from about 1600 to the mid­dle of the 18th Cen­tu­ry. J.S. Bach and G.F. Hän­del are often con­sid­ered its cul­mi­nat­ing fig­ures.

The first use of the word “Baroque” in music was only in 1919, by Curt Sachs, and it was not until 1940 that it was first used in Eng­lish (in an arti­cle pub­lished by Man­fred Bukofz­er). Even as late as 1960 there was still con­sid­er­able dis­pute in aca­d­e­m­ic cir­cles over whether music as diverse as that by Jacopo Peri, François Couperin and J.S. Bach could be mean­ing­ful­ly bun­dled togeth­er under a sin­gle styl­is­tic term.

Many musi­cal forms were born in that era, like the con­cer­to and sin­fo­nia. Forms such as the sonata, can­ta­ta and ora­to­rio flour­ished. Also, opera was born out of the exper­i­men­ta­tion of the Flo­ren­tine Cam­er­a­ta, the cre­ators of mon­ody, who attempt­ed to recre­ate the the­atri­cal arts of the ancient Greeks. Indeed, it is exact­ly that devel­op­ment which is often used to denote the begin­ning of the musi­cal Baroque, around 1600. An impor­tant tech­nique used in baroque music was the use of ground bass, a repeat­ed bass line. Dido’s Lament by Hen­ry Pur­cell is a famous exam­ple of this tech­nique.

(Parts of the above adapt­ed from the Wikipedia Baroque entry.)

• This pro­gramme is pro­duced by Radio Riel in con­junc­tion with the Cale­don Library in Sec­ond Life, and pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin. For more infor­ma­tion on the Cale­don Library, cur­rent exhibits and the work of Sec­ond Life ref­er­ence libraries in gen­er­al, please vis­it the Cale­don Library Web site, or one of their loca­tions in-world.

• You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme now at, or sim­ply vis­it any Cale­don Library branch in-world and press Play on your embed­ded music play­er.

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