What Is the Baroque Concerto?

The term “baroque concerto” refers to a type of concerto that was popular during the Baroque period. The concerto came to be represented three distinct types of composition during this time period. Within a three-movement composition, they all have the same theme of contrasting or competing instruments. The number and type of solo instruments used in conjunction with the orchestra determined the concerto type. The term “baroque” refers to any type of arrangement.

The Baroque period spans approximately 1580 to 1750. The concerto as a distinct form of composition was established during the Baroque period, despite its origins as a concept in the previous era’s Renaissance. The ornate and imaginative style of Baroque music was well-known.

There were three types of baroque concertos the 1700s. The solo concerto was written for one instrument and an orchestra, usually the piano or a string instrument. A grosso concerto is a concerto for two or more soloists and orchestra. Orchestral concertos were performed a single orchestra, following the same principles as solo and grosso concertos in terms of contrasting instruments. The compositional structure, style, and execution of all three types of concertos are the same.

There are three movements in every baroque concerto. Within the composition, each movement is a separate piece that is linked to the other two. The format is similar to stanzas in a poem. The tempos of the three movements are fast/slow/fast, and the second movement seamlessly transitions into the third.

The “basso continuo,” which requires the use of a tone instrument such as a cello or viola to play the bass line, is a common device in all types of baroque concertos. Over the bass line, a chordal instrument such as a harpsichord, organ, or lute plays harmonies. As a result, there are two harmonies playing at the same time.

Each movement is performed as a musical dialogue of contrast and harmony. It’s possible to think of it as a kind of conversation between the soloists and the orchestra. There is a musical contrast that is almost a competition throughout the first and second movements, as the various instruments compete to express the music. In a sense, the soloist is a virtuoso competing for the attention of the audience. The final movement brings all of the instruments together musically.

The term concerto used to refer to vocal solos accompanied an orchestra, but the mid-1600s, it only referred to orchestral compositions. The solo concerto is one type of baroque concerto that has remained popular to this day. The basso concerto fell out of favor as a compositional form at the end of the Baroque era, but was revived in the twentieth century.