From The Library… A Baroque Festival

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Wednesday, 16 January, 2008

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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