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The Baroque

HomeMusic History �Baroque
The Baroque was a cultural movement that has dominated Europe, both in the literature, the visual arts and music.
The Late Renaissance Baroque age follows.

It begins in 1600 and ends in 1690 with about Arcadia.

The music in the Baroque


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Notes on the History of Music

dedicated to our students

Luca Bianchini, Anna Trombetta and


1566 - Catechism of the Council of Trent.
1600 - Giordano Bruno died at the stake.
1600 - The Representation of Soul and Body of Rome Cavalieri is performed.
1607 - Monteverdi's L'Orfeo in Mantua is represented.
1618 - Thirty Years' War broke out.
1626 - The Chain of Adonis Mazzocchi is represented in Rome.
1632 - Galileo published the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.
1633 - The Inquisition condemned Galileo's theories.
1648 - The Peace of Westphalia marks the defeat of the Habsburgs.
1656 - An outbreak of plague ravaged Italy.
1690 - It is established in Rome, the Academy of Arcadia.

General characteristics

The Baroque is a cultural movement that dominated Italy and Europe by the end of the sixteenth century to the seventeenth century until the Arcadia.
Literature, Baroque music and art in general, were influenced by the Counter. After the Council of Trent was closed in 1563, Catholics were among the most rigid ideas prevailed. The Church wanted to subject the clergy and the faithful to counter the Protestant Reformation. The clash between the Reformation and Counter Reformation, two worlds seemingly irreconcilable, imposed severe limits on topics, genres, literary and musical themes that could not be handled freely without incurring nell'Inquisizione. In countries like Italy, where the Counter-controlled society and most of the brainpower, any initiative that would promote the free flow of ideas was viewed with suspicion. The secular culture of the Renaissance was so mortified. The critical spirit, won over by intellectuals and free thinkers, was opposed by the Church, because it called into question the established truths. Every free individual had to be nipped in the bud. The Inquisition condemned Galileo for example, in 1633 and put an end to freedom of research and experimentation, which went hand in freer countries like France.
Ideas contrary to those of the Church continued to circulate in Italy, not openly, but veiled allegorical meanings, hidden symbols to be read with the keys in the cultural circles revealed. That is why the academies were important.

The political situation

The seventeenth century was a century of great conflict. Since the Treaty was signed in 1559 Chambr�sis-Chateau, which redefined the European balance for the next century, shifted the focus of political power. The diversion of trade from the Mediterranean to the Italian economy precipitated, causing the collapse of the shipping industry, commercial and banking services. The protagonists of the European scene were then France and Spain. The latter exerted a heavy domain centralizer on Italy. The Church of Rome, made alliances with the French and Spanish absolute sovereign to control its territories. The Thirty Years War contributed to aggravate the situation. Broke out in 1618 and involved all over Europe, until the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. That pact marked the defeat of the Spanish Habsburg branch. Italy, which had suffered the influence of Spanish, followed by the inevitable decline of the Empire of Spain, but at least up to 1640 was still cutting-edge art and literature.

The Baroque in Italy

During the Baroque Italians invented new genres, which produced literature, art, music, fine. The practice of the New Science of Galileo Galilei, until it was crushed by the Church, helped to overcome the old prejudices. The scientist drew a new map of the universe, he discovered the satellites of Jupiter in 1609, revolutionized the old cosmology. He noticed that the moon had mountains of the common with the Earth, thereby eliminating the minds of readers each subordinate relationship between what is above and what is below, between Heaven and Earth, between God and Man. The intellectuals ended up with the disorientation and lost its sense of centrality.

The meaning of "Baroque"

In the early sixties of the year 1600, the Baroque dominated in the literature, as in music. The original meaning of the term "Baroque" has the negative connotation of "complicated," "bizarre," "grotesque". Some derive from the Portuguese word "barroco" used to define a pearl and asymmetric non-agricultural land, some from the French "baroque", meaning "bizarre," "bizarre". It was adopted by the theorists of neo-classicism (late eighteenth century) to criticize the previous period, to oppose the pure taste for the perfect proportions of the classical age.

Baroque and Arcadia

The Baroque period began in 1600 and gradually ends in 1680-90 with the Arcadia. Arcadian There are musicians of considerable fame. Those who had joined them a name of initiation. Arcangelo Corelli was called "Arcomelo Erimanteo", Francesco Gasparini "Anfriso Petronius," Alessandro Marcello "Straight Stymphalian" Benedetto Marcello "Driant Sacr�e", Bernardo Pasquini "Azeri Protic," Alessandro Scarlatti "Terpander Azeri", Giuseppe Valentini "Euginaspe Leupinto" . These Masters Arcadians are clearly distinguishable from its predecessors. The Baroque Period with them is definitely gone.

Marino's Adone

Giovan Battista Marino (Naples, October 14, 1569, Naples, 26 March 1625) was the most representative in Italy of baroque poetry, which he also takes the name of Marino. Marine sings the new condition of the individual open to renewal seventeenth century, as was Galileo for scientific research. Marine scientist nell'Adone praises for his new discoveries. The Adonis is a mythological poem plant Marino published in 1623 and which gave him European fame. The text is in twenty cantos in octaves. The plot is complex. Venus and Cupid arguing with it arrive out of spite bell'Adone the island of Cyprus, which is the realm of the goddess. Venus falls in love with the young, and he reciprocated. Adonis has started the love of Cupid and Mercury, that tell stories of mortal Psyche, Ganymede, Narcissus and Cyparissus, loved by the gods. Mercury through the Apollo fountain is a symbol of poetry, Adonis and Venus leads the sensual pleasures, those of art and intellect. Mars jealous pursued Adonis, misfortunes among thousands forced to flee. Disguised as a woman, Adonis returned to Cyprus, was appointed king and the reconquest of the goddess. During a hunting expedition to Mars and Diana pitted against a wild boar, that kills him. Venus, desperate, changes in the heart of the beloved anemone.
This work is very sensual indexing in 1627. The literary critic Domenico Pietropaolo reiterates that "mere bagatelle Marino indulged in rhetoric, but flirted with heresy" ("Marino was not indulging in the simple rhetorical 'trifles' but was flirting with eresy") (Domenico Pietropaolo, "Echoes of Heresy In The Ascent to the Third Heaven, "in AA. VV., Lectura Marini, curated by Francesco GUARDIANI, University of Toronto, Dovehouse Editions, Toronto 1989, p. 197).

The Chain of Adonis

The Chain of Adonis was set to music by Domenico Mazzocchi (Civita Castellana, 8 November 1592, Rome, January 21, 1665), author of motets, madrigals, operas and oratorios.

The booklet containing the text by Giovan Battista Marino. This is the first between the works of Baroque singing the love between Venus and Adonis. The libretto by the poet Ottavio Tronsarelli Fable is in the form of woodland in the prologue and five acts. The premiere took place in Rome's Palazzo Conti, February 12, 1626, just before the year Adonis was banned by Marino. Apollo in the prologue there are (T) and Cyclops. In the Acts of the characters run Falsirena, a sorceress (S), Adonis (A), Pluto (B), Venus (S), suitability (S) and Arset (B), Falsirena advisers, the governor Oraspe (T), Love (S), Eco (A), the nymphs and shepherds (chorus). The Chain of Adonis was commissioned by Giovanni Domenico Mazzocchi George Aldobrandini the musician, who served as a diplomat in the family. The operation achieved a great success and was revived in the palace of the Counts Carnival in 1626 and that same year in Parma, then in Bologna (1648) and Piacenza (1650). The libretto is drawn from the songs of the twelfth and thirteenth dell'Adone Marino, entitled "Escape" and "prison". Adonis, who loves Venus escapes from Mars, who is jealous and so he pursued. Reaches of the "rough" woods, the witch Falsirena kingdom that fell in love with Adonis and tries unsuccessfully to seduce him, he decides to chain him with a yoke of gold, forged by the Cyclops and Vulcan. Falsirena is jealous and suspects that the waste Adonis because he loves another woman. Pluto reveals that Adonis and Venus are lovers. The magician takes the form of the goddess to deceive the young, which leaves almost ensnared, but is saved by the true Venus appears to him, and punish the witch linking it with the gold chain to a rock.
The Baroque was a mythological subject, in order to seek the truth of things through the senses. The Allegory of the story, printed in the score for the benefit of the Holy Inquisition, claims that the booklet should be interpreted in a moralistic sense, but the chain of Adonis musical work is heretical. The poet assures readers that officially Falsirena is the Soul, recommended by the Company to the good (Arset) persuaded to evil by Lust (suitability): "Adonis, who far from the deity of Venus suffers meetings of various troubles, is the man away from God that incurs a lot of mistakes. "
It is clear that the choice of a person so revolutionary for its time, drawn from a prohibited, introduces the listener right in the Baroque period. An era that has turned against the absurd ecclesiastical censures, to propagate a survey made of the world through the senses, that is theorized by Marino. The revolutionary language is hidden under the veil of the mythological poems.
The original search for the truth of the senses goes in parallel with the interest of the work for the wonderful news that Mazzocchi was made to recite singing, making the structure more varied through the use of half-Arie, or Airy. These recitatives that break the monotony of the agreements Continuo at the relevant sentences, for example using the melisma, as in the air Arset.


Canova's Venus and Adonis full score of the Chain of Adonis Mazzocchi pdf document

cllicca the image to download the booklet.

(Pdf 24.0 Mb)

opera score

The Chain of Adonis, meaning work

The Chain of Adonis represents the ambition of intellectuals to establish the supremacy of this sensual experience over all other forms of knowledge, so Arset says that "The reason loses the sense which abounds." The hero is beautiful for maximum pleasure, which can be derived from knowing Venus, the most beautiful of the divinities. There is no other than the terrestrial paradise, where the action takes place in the Chain of Adonis. Hence the charge of the work heretical, because happiness here in Mazzocchi, as there nell'Adone Marino, it's all sensual, earthly. It can be regained only through the use of touch, which is the finest instrument of knowledge that man possesses. Mazzocchi and the librettist Tronsarelli not move in search of a Counter-absolute truth, but rather a method that allows them to gain certainty, or partial truths, with which to build their new world. As Galileo is based on experimental knowledge of the world, so the protagonist of the Chain of Adonis knows through the senses. The musician plays the Mazzocchi booklet as an endless erotic experience loads of new effects, choirs and polyphonic pieces, as well as dances, songs, instrumental interludes, and a curious sung ballet, titled "Dances interspersed with songs, and passages" , which alternates with the chorus of nymphs and interventions of pastors. The music is made more efficient by the beautiful baroque stage set of machines and appearances, which add to erotic sensuality.
the new spirit of the Baroque
Writers like Marino, the librettist and musician Tronsarelli Mazzocchi, used this language in the beginning of the Baroque revolution, with the common goal of Galileo. In the mid-seventeenth century, this new language fall back on repetitive rhetorical literary and musical exercises.


Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation Baroque influenced the development of genres in the field of sacred and profane. The musical forms, apart from some local tradition, were uniform up to that time in Europe. The madrigal of the sixteenth century had similar characters in the Italy of Gabrieli, Dowland in England, in France Verdelot. The religious split that led to divisions between the two blocs, who developed different forms of music. In Germany and the country flourished Lutheran Choir and the Sing. And all the congregation sang with one voice the same melody. The organ was essential to accompany the sacred functions, and acquired importance as a solo instrument. Perhaps it served to emphasize the unique relationship between the individual, represented by the solo instrument, with the God of the Protestants. The Catholics insisted instead on the concept of assemblies of the clergy and mediation between God and man. After the Council of Trent, which began under the pontificate of Pope Paul III and that ended in 1563, the character of the music known as the Counter-Reformation was strictly laid down. The musical accompaniments were reduced in complexity, the profane songs they could no longer serve as a standard for polyphonic Masses. It was also established a requirement to understand the words in church music, unlike for example the Flemish compositions, where the text was not clear anymore. Polyphony, however, was not repudiated, simply tried to bring her back to the purity of its origins. Since Catholics were opposed to singing their own unique genre of the Protestant chorale, which could revive the faith in the listeners, here is a polyphony that helped people liked it, spreading it to all the Catholic areas during the early seventeenth century. The Protestant Chorale promoted the active role of participants in the liturgy, the polyphony instead of passive listeners, who get drunk counterpoints performed by professional singers.

Masses of Palestrina

Sante Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (Palestrina, 1525 - Rome, February 2, 1594) had the merit of developing a language understandable to the maximum polyphony, intertwining vocals with great skill, using all the tricks of counterpoint. The words of the religious text returned to glow with an austere but beautiful music. The exclusive Palestrina was generally opposed to the Lutheran Chorale. Legend has it that Paestrina composed a six-part polyphonic mass, the Missa Papa Marcelli in 1555, to show the Pope that counterpoint was compatible with the doctrines of the Counter-Reformation. The composer was able to actually play the taste of the time, he could not refuse such a well-established that appealed to many. The Counter-Reformation, even for a spirit of proselytism, would have approved even without the polyphony Palestrina. But it is fascinating to believe that the Mass of Palestrina, acclaimed Princeps Musicae of the Catholic Church, had saved his sacred music, and counterpoint, a technique of music that always had a special place in liturgical functions together with Gregorian chant. In Masses "Sine Nomine" by Palestrina, in fact, continued the ancient practice of using secular tunes in religious compositions.

The origins of the Baroque

Even in literature, as in music every year drew up a list of forbidden books, even those in which they ended by Giovanni Boccaccio, who was considered a heretic. Giordano Bruno was condemned to the stake in 1600. This atrocity tragically inhuman symbolizes the beginning of the Baroque.


In Rome, after simplification dictated by the Council of Trent, the Florentine Emilio de 'Cavalieri (Rome, 1550 - Rome, March 11, 1602) of the Camerata de' Bardi wrote in 1600 that the work represents the transition from late Renaissance to Baroque. If the chain of Adonis Mazzocchi highlights the side of a heretic, as the work of Marino from which it derives, that of Knight is apparently more related to the Counter-Reformation, but the interpretations are many. The choice of works to the surface followed the spirit of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. The representation of soul and body used polyphony, which in the intention of going away from the Counter-Choral. Even the moralizing texts were in the spirit of the new devotion, but the solo songs and the wonderful theatrical effects, typical of opera by contemporary authors such as Jacopo Peri, Giulio Caccini and Claudio Monteverdi, carrying the Opera into a new world in search of 'sensual effects, and analogies to the Greek pagan music. No coincidence that the operas were regarded with suspicion throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by the preachers, who always saw the occasions of sin, and receptacles of heresies. The Camerata Bardi, Emilio de Cavalieri from which it came, was not at all celebrated for the rediscovery of the pagan tragedy and theatrical genres of classical Greece. In his Dialogue of ancient and modern music, Vincenzo Galilei, father of Galileo, expounded on the ideas of polyphony and monody, hoping to return to the purity of the music of ancient Greece. The refusal of polyphony in favor of monody was advocated by the Council of Trent, but for entirely different reasons. The Counter-Reformation polyphony condemned because it made incomprehensible religious texts, while Vincenzo Galilei and the Camerata disliked to return to the glories of old pagan music theater. Giovanni Bardi's group encouraged the development of an acting style midway between song and speech. The new type was applied to monodies, intermediate, and then more articulate. The composers of the Camerata invented the play. He then devoted to experimental music in the style of relativistic time, in sharp contrast with the single thought of the post-conciliar period.

Description of the Work of the Knights

The work of the Representation of Soul and Body is preceded by a prologue spoken and is divided into Acts. Describes the tests that they face, body and soul to withstand the wiles of the World. The Intellect and the Council are characters that invite the listener to flee sin and pursue the path of salvation to the sky. The souls of the damned and the blessed each illustrate the pains, the other the beatitudes. The personification of Time reminds them of the ephemeral nature of things, which is one of the leitmotifs of the Baroque. Soul and Body in the final invite everyone to praise the Lord, culminating in an innovative ballet sung. The insistence on the ephemeral subjects is typical of the culture of the Baroque, then developed by Caravaggio painting.

Picture of the Basket of Fruit by Caravaggio, in which we see the rotten fruit, to represent the ephemeral.
Picture of the Basket of Fruit by Caravaggio,
in which we see the fruit rotten,
to represent the ephemeral.

The Academy was founded not by chance Bardi in Florence. The first meetings were held by the Camerata January 14, 1573. Florence was the cradle of other Academies of free thought, alternative to the doctrines of the Church. For example there was the neo-Platonic, founded in 1459 by Marsilio Ficino by Cosimo de 'Medici. This was dissolved in 1523. Academy Like the Bard, one of Ficino sought inspiration in ancient Greece. Predel both pagan themes, namely classical mythology: the example of Venus, or those of Hercules or Mars. Venus is also the protagonist of the Chain of Adonis. Just as he did at the beginning of the seventeenth century the poet Marino, the Florentine Neoplatonic Academy transformed into a goddess of Olympus sinful celestial Venus, symbol of spiritual or earthly gods, symbol of sensuality.
What soul and body is also the representation of another neo-Platonic theme: the struggle between good and evil, between an upper and a lower principle. In which subjects Adonis Venus is Mars. In the representation of the Knights is rather the revival of Hercules slaying the monsters: the work will say that the Platonic human spirit is always suspended between vice and virtue, a victim of instinct that pulling them down. The person that is always aware of his limitations.

Baroque Art

" Baroque "(text by Anna Trombetta)

MIDI & Mp3


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