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The Baroque Age

RubensNamed after the popular ornate architectural style of the time, the Baroque period (ca.1600 to 1750) saw composers beginning to rebel against the styles that were prevalent during the High Renaissance. This was a time when the many monarchies of Europe vied in outdoing each other in pride, pomp and pageantry. Many monarchs employed composers at their courts, where they were little more than servants expected to churn out music for any desired occasions. The greatest composer of the period, Johann Sebastian Bach, was such a servant. Yet the best composers of the time were able to break new musical ground, and in so doing succeeded in creating an entirely new style of music. 
It was during the early part of the seventeenth century that the genre of opera was first created by a group of composers in Florence, Italy, and the earliest operatic masterpieces were composed by Claudio Monteverdi. The instrumental concerto became a staple of the Baroque era, and found its strongest exponent in the works of the Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi. Harpsichord music achieved new heights, due to the works of such masters as Domenico Scarlatti and others. Dances became formalized into instrumental suites and were composed by virtually all composers of the era. But vocal and choral music still reigned supreme during this age, and culminated in the operas and oratorios of German-born composer George Frideric Händel.