Nine Well-Known Baroque Pieces You Ought to Hear

ByQuyen Anne

Nov 16, 2023

Emerging from the Renaissance, Baroque music was written in many forms by many composers like Bach, Vivaldi and Handel, over the course of 150 years, From the period’s beginnings in the early 1600s to when the Classical period style began to take over in the mid 1700s, collecting all forms of music and ideas.

As time progresses, popular baroque music ideas are picked up and expounded, then further studied and expanded. In this article, We want to share with you some of the most famous baroque pieces written by famous composers of baroque period to get you in the Baroque mood.

Famous pieces from the baroque period

1. Bach – Cello Suites

Bach’s Six Solo Cello Suites for for unaccompanied cello are some of the most emotionally classical music works in the Baroque repertoire.

Famous baroque composer, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), composed these pieces for Unaccompanied Cello between 1717–23, based on six dance movements.

It is intriguing that Bach was interested in cello instrument although he was not known to have played!!

However, The most famous movement, the ‘Prelude’ from Suite No. 1 in G, is a great example of Bach’s genius and one of the best baroque music.

Yo-Yo Ma – Bach: Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, Prélude (Official Video)

2. Vivaldi – Four Seasons

The Four Seasons, composed in 1723, is one of Baroque legend Antonio Vivaldi’s (1678-1741) most famous works for violin. It is a collection of violin concertos; in reality, it is music’s first tone poem – that is, music with a narrative or illustrative basis. Each concerto of his Four Seasons corresponds to a different season.

Vivaldi Four Seasons: Winter, complete; Cynthia Freivogel, Voices of Music RV 297 (L’Inverno) 4K

3. Canon in D major – Johann Pachelbel

The canon was originally scored for three violins and basso continuo. It was composed by one of the best baroque composers, Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706).

It became very popular in the 1970s, after French conductor Jean-François Paillard made a recording. Since then, this music from the baroque period has been recorded hundreds of times.

Pachelbel Canon in D Major – the original and best version.

4. Handel – Messiah

This work “messiah oratorio” was composed in just 24 days by one of the greatest baroque composers, George Frideric Handel(1685-1759). His friend Charles Jennens wrote a libretto taken from the Bible, based on the life of Jesus Christ, and gave it to Handel to compose a new work “Messiah”. The most famous part of this work is “Hallelujah” Chorus.

''Hallelujah'' chorus, from Händel's Messiah - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

”Hallelujah” chorus, from Händel’s Messiah – Mormon Tabernacle Choir

5. Henry Purcell – Fairy Queen

The semi-opera “The Fairy Queen” is a play with substantial incidental music composed by English composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695). The libretto is an anonymous adaptation of William Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It is closer to a modern musical than to anything conventionally operatic.

Henry Purcell: The Fairy Queen, Z.629 – Bremer Barockorchester, François Fernandez

6. Scarlatti – (Sonatas for Harpsichord)

Italian composer, Domenico Scarlatti, has extensive output of over 500+ known harpsichord sonatas.  These continuo sonatas document a fascinating corner of the Baroque master’s oeuvre and simultaneously reveal the beginnings of the soon-to-emerge Classical style. They influenced many of the classical period composers after him like Haydn, Clementi, and Beethoven.

Scarlatti was one of the many famous Italian artists,composers, singers etc who found fame and fortune at the Spanish and Portuguese royal courts.

Scarlatti – K.141 – Jean Rondeau

7. Corelli- 12 Concerti Grossi, Op.6

Although Arcangelo Corelli wasn’t consider a top tier composer with Bach and Handel. This collection is one of the crown jewels of baroque instrumental music.

These 12 concerti grossi dramatically affected the style of the baroque concerto for the next generation of composers, that Bach and Vivaldi studied before they did much of their string music.

Corelli was the first composer to write music in the style of baroque period’s concerto grosso (the form of music that resembles a musical dialogue between the large orchestra and the small group of soloists).

Corelli: 12 Concerti Grossi, Op. 6, No. 8; Christmas Concerto – Musica Amphion – Classical Music HD

8. Bach – Brandenburg Concertos

This work is a collection of six concertos, widely regarded as some of the best orchestral compositions of the Baroque era. They are based on the Italian concerto grosso style. Their happy and upbeat nature easily inspires and excites listeners of all nationalities.

Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048: Complete 4K UHD; Voices of Music

9. Bach – Toccata and Fugue in D minor

A great example of baroque music is The Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, written by Johann Sebastian Bach 300 years ago. It is two-part musical composition for organ written, according to its oldest extant sources.

J.S. Bach – Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565

That’s all. We hope that this list helped you pick some of the most famous baroque music works.

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