The Baroque Era which started just before the year 1600 and stretched until Johann Sebastian Bach’s death in 1750, was a time of tumultuous change in politics, science and the arts. It also revolved around the religious wars between the Protestants and the Catholics that would later affect the music world greatly. The era also saw the rise of the middle-class people. The tradesmen would soon evolve into a new class called the “bourgeois.” The Baroque Era featured such forms of music including: the Opera, the Cantata, the Oratorio, and the Concerto. These forms of music were performed and written by composers such as Henry Purcell, George Frideric Handel, and Bach, amongst many other great composers. The word “baroque” is believed to be derived from the Portuguese word “barroco”, a pearl that was used in jewelry. Until late 19th century, it was used as a synonym for “absurd or grotesque.”.
The Baroque Era which was centered on the idea of absolute monarchy, saw a revolution from the middle class. The working people, barred from the salons of the aristocracy, created a new class of their own. The “bourgeois” created music in homes and churches. The people however, could not agree on how this music should be portrayed in the church. In 1618, the Protestants and Catholics launched the Thirty Years War in Europe. The Protestants were stationed in England, Scandinavia, Holland, and the north German cities. The Catholics, who were broken up into two different powerful dynasties, the French Bourbons and the Austrian-Spanish Hapsburgs, battled each other in addition to the Protestants. The Hapsburg Empire was demolished in the 1790’s and France became the leading Catholic religion. Meanwhile at the American colonies, Protestant refugees from northern Europe based the new society on religious values.
Possibly the most celebrated aspect of the Baroque era was the ostentatious style of music that was introduced in Europe during the early 1600’s and popularized by great composer such as Handel, Bach, Purcell, Antonio Vivaldi.