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Guide to Baroque Music

February 2018 is Baroque Month at Bachtrack!
We'll be publishing new articles through the whole month, so keep checking back to learn about the year's festivals, more about Bach, new baroque projects and yet another special interview guest! If you're new to the site, don't forget to check out older baroque articles lower down on the page.
Focus on Baroque
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Focus on Bach

Bach's St Matthew and St John Passions

Diego Velásquez: Cristo Crucificado © Wikipedia | Public Domain
Jane Shuttleworth reflects on the very different natures of Bach's St John and St Matthew Passions. 
Focus on Bach

10 major Bach works on Bachtrack At Home

August Weger's 19th century engraving of Bach © Public domain | Wikimedia Commons
There’s a range of works by Bach on Bachtrack At Home. Here, we explore 10 of the best. 
Focus on Bach

Ten alternative versions of Bach

Historically-informed performance fanatics, look away now.
Focus on Handel

The raw and realistic drama of Handel's Brockes Passion

Caravaggio: The Crowning with Thorns ( Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) © Public Domain | Wikipedia
As Concerto Copenhagen prepare a tour of Handel's unusual work, Artistic Director Lars Ulrik Mortensen tells us why he thinks it is unjustly neglected. 
Focus on Handel

Handel – the top ten of his operas, plus one

George Frideric Handel, by Thomas Hudson, 1756 © National Portrait Gallery, London
From emperors and empresses to nymphs, gods and giants by way of faithful wives, sorceresses, knights, dastardly noblemen and dazzling coloratura arias, here's your guide to the master showman of baroque opera.
Focus on Handel

Top ten Handel places to visit in London

Handel's music room at Handel House © Handel House
Handel lived in London for most of his adult life, becoming the leading musical figure in the city. Handel expert Katharine Hogg traces his steps through today's London.
Baroque Travel

Top ten baroque cities: a visitor's guide

© Google MyMaps
Baroque art, baroque architecture, baroque music. From Prague and Wrocław in the East to Versailles in the West to Valletta in the South, we take lovers of the era on a tour of Europe.

Recovering humanity through music: Jordi Savall

Jordi Savall © David Ignaszewski
The doyen of Early Music explains his blending of music and history, starting with his most recent project, The Routes of Slavery. We talk about the recording industry, Eastern music and more.

Bach to modern music: Mahan Esfahani

Mahan Esfahani © Kaja Smith
Perhaps the most prominent harpsichordist of today, Esfahani talks to us about Bach, new music and great harpsichordists from Wanda Landowska to the stars of tomorrow.
What is baroque music?

“Baroque” is a period from approximately 1600 to 1750, sandwiched between the “Renaissance” and “Classical” periods. “Baroque” initially described irregularly shaped pearls that were used in jewelry as early as the 16th century. Rousseau and other critics of Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie called the opera “baroque” because of its seemingly irregular melodies, disjunctive harmonies, and frequently changing keys and meters. Read more in Stephen Raskauskas' article.

Baroque festivals

Baroque experimentalism at Oranjewoud Festival

Musica Sequenza © Sophie Schwarzenberger
Oranjewoud Festival in Friesland, the Netherlands, tempers envelope-pushing with tradition. 
Baroque eye candy...

Photo gallery: Baroque theatres you should see

Hasse's Tito Vespasiano at Český Krumlov, Czech Republic © The Town of Český Krumlov | Libor Sváček
Feast your eyes on this marvellous collection of Europe's surviving baroque theatres.
Baroque Festivals

Foreign Worlds explored at the Handel Halle Festival

Handel, by Louis-François Roubiliac © Wikicommons
The Handel Festival Halle this year is programmed under the title “Foreign Worlds”, reflecting not only the cultural influences he drew from his travels abroad, but his fascination with distant lands. 
Baroque festivals...

Three festivals for Mr. Handel

William Berger in the title role of Imeneo, Göttingen © Theodoro da Silva
Sandra takes us on a guided tour round Germany's major international Handel Festivals: Göttingen, Halle and Karlsruhe.
Upcoming eventsSee more...

KarlsruheHidden Treasures

Vivaldi, Handel, Purcell, Merulo
Tuva Semmingsen; Peter Spissky; Spissky and friends


Handel: Alcina
Andreas Spering; James Darrah; Chrisi Karvonides; Layla Claire; Aleksandra Kubas-Kruk; Benedetta Mazzucato

KarlsruheSunday concert

Muffat, Geminiani, Corelli, Handel
Deutsche Händel-Solisten; Rinaldo Alessandrini; Rebecca Bottone; Andreas Wolf
Latest reviewsSee more...

Andris Nelsons leads Leipzig Week in Boston

Andris Nelsons leads the Boston Symphony © Michael Blanchard
With Andris Nelsons about to debut as Kapellmeister at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, a collaboration with his Boston Symphony was inaugurated in style. 
Read more

Thrilling Bach from Mahan Esfahani at Wigmore Hall

Mahan Esfahani © Kaja Smith
To reach the mother lode of Bach's keyboard music, you have to listen to it on harpsichord, and today, no performer embodies that mother lode more than Mahan Esfahani.
Read more

Mozart, Uchida, and The Cleveland Orchestra: an inspired collaboration continues

Dame Mitsuko Uchida © Jean Radel
Mitsuko Uchida returned to Cleveland for elegant performances of Mozart’s first and last piano concertos, with selections from Handel’s Water Music interjected between.
Read more
We interview...

Sir John Eliot Gardiner on Monteverdi

© Sim Cannetty-Clarke
Read our wide-ranging interview about Monteverdi's operas, their cultural context, performing them today and why they remain as contemporary and fresh as when they were written four centuries ago.
We interview...

A Monteverdi Odyssey: B'Rock Orchestra

B'Rock Orchestra in 2015 © Mirjam Devriendt
Ahead of their tour of Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, starting at Klarafestival, B'Rock's general director Hendrik Storme tells us about this very international young orchestra, Monteverdi's masterpiece and working with René Jacobs.
We interview...

Baroque Inquisition: Rinaldo Alessandrini

Rinaldo Alessandrini © Lorraine Wauters
The prolific recording artist and founder of Concerto Italiano answers our questions about Monteverdi and other music of the period.
Rachelle Durkin (Armida) and Leif Aruhn-Solén (Rinaldo) in Armida (2016) © Brett Boardman
Opera down under...

Pinchgut Opera: a rare compounding of age and youth

As far as you can get from opera's birthplace, a small company leads the way in exploring the repertoire of its early years.
Baroque in France

A thumbnail of baroque music in France

The organ at Notre Dame in Paris © Eric Chan
What’s the state of baroque music in France? How is it placed against the classical and romantic repertoire? Here’s a sketch of a genre that’s well defined but little understood in France.
We interview...

Michael Chance on the new Grange Festival

© The Grange Festival
Michael Chance tells us about planned improvements to the festival-going experience and tells us about the operas that will form part of the new festival.
Festival opera...

Theatrical feast: Hipermestra at Glyndebourne

The 1658 libretto of Hipermestra © British Library Board, General Reference Collection DRT Digital Store 11715.c.40.
This year's festival opens with the most lavish work of an exceptionally important composer. So why has it languished unperformed for so long?
We interview...

Baroque Inquisition: Michael Schneider

Michael Schneider © Sven Cichowicz
The recorder/traverso specialist and conductor talks to us about the music of Telemann, whose 250th anniversary is in 2017
Georg Philipp Telemann, by Valentin Daniel Preisler (1717-1765)
Play it yourself...

Telemann: your faithful music teacher

Jane guides you through Der getreue Music-Meister, Telemann's treasure trove of pieces for amateur musicians of every description.
Baroque in South America...

Araujo to Zipoli: Baroque music in South America

Missa Encarnacion by Bassani
As part of Bachtrack’s Baroque Music Month, Jane Shuttleworth looks at the history of music in South America in the 17th century and beyond.
We interview...

L'Arpeggiata founder Christina Pluhar

Christina Pluhar © Marco Borggreve
Christina talks about improvisation, her passion for unusual voice types, combining early music with jazz and traditional styles, and more.
We interview...

Baroque inquisition: La Venexiana

La Venexiana © Kaupo Kikkas
The madrigal specialists talk to us about the music of Claudio Monteverdi, whose 450th birthday will be in May 2017.
We interview...

Baroque Inquisition: Bernhard Forck

Bernhard Forck © Gudrun Senger
About the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin's US tour, playing Bach in the Thomaskirche, rare Telemann, lesser known works and more.
Markgräfin Wilhelmine von Brandenburg-Bayreuth (Antoine Pesne, 1683-1657) © Wikimedia Commons
Celebrating women...

Top Six Women Baroque Composers

Following the example of Rebecca Lentjes’ January feature “Top Ten Living Women Composers”, I have made my pick of women composers of the Baroque period in celebration of International Women’s Day.

British Baroque: Matthew Locke

Matthew Locke © Portrait by James Caldwell
The mid-seventeenth century is a bit of a black hole as far as British music history is concerned – hardly surprising really, given that the British Isles were ravaged by civil war, and Cromwell’s Puritan government that followed put an end to most sorts of fun, including music in church, thus depriving composers of a vitally important source of patronage.