BAROQUE PERIOD: C.1600-1750
• The word ‘Baroque’ was originally used to describe highly
decorative and grand architecture. Musicians took up the word
and began to use it to describe the musical style of the period
• The Violin family began to take shape, as did the Orchestra –
with the string family at the heart of it. By the end of this period
all music was based on the major/minor key system
• New styles and structures were introduced, notably the Opera,
Oratorio, Overture, Suite and Concerto
• The giant composers of this period were J.S Bach and G.F Handel
• The most distinguishing feature of this period is the use of the
Basso Continuo: Here the Bass line is played on instruments
such as Cello, Double Bass or Bassoon while the continuo is
played by the Harpsichord or Organ
MUSIC FOR THE ROYAL FIREWORKS: G.F HANDEL
This piece was written to celebrate an end to the war between France & England. King
George II organised a giant firework display and asked Handel to compose a piece to
accompany the display.
During the event 101 Cannons were fired, and the music began. Unfortunately the
fireworks were a disappointment, a wooden building constructed for the event went up in
flames and created a mass panic. Many people were trodden on and injured. Despite
this Handel’s music was a huge success.
Originally this music was written for wind and percussion instruments due to the event
being outdoors. The orchestra consisted of 24 Oboes, 12 Bassoons, double bassoon, 9
trumpets, 9 horns, 3 pairs of timpani and side drums. Later Handel reduced the number
of instruments and also added some string parts.
The suite consists of 5 movements. Bouree, Siciliano, Allegro and Minuets I and II
MOVEMENT 1: BOUREE
A Bouree is a fast, light footed dance.
In this case the movement has been written for strings, oboes, and bassoons
The movement is in binary form. (Two clear sections, each repeated) The whole
piece is repeated again, this time performed only by the strings.
BOUREE: SECTION B
MOVEMENT 2: SICILIANO – LA PAIX
A Siciliano is a flowing dance with a swaying rhythm, originating from Sicily
La Paix means Peace. It is thought the music represents the illumination of a
figure of peace attended by Neptune (God of the Sea) and Mars (God of War)
In this movement Handel uses all his instruments except drums. Violins,
trumpets and oboes play the melody. Occasionally joined by the horns
ALLEGRO: LA REJOUISSANCE
Allegro: An Italian tempo marking, meaning lively
This was written to represent the general rejoicing of the British people at the
signing of the Peace treaty.
The first played by trumpets, drums and strings. Handel then directs that the
melody is repeated another twice. The second time by the Horns and Bassoons
without trumpets and the final time with all instruments together
A minuet is a Dance in 3/4 time
This Minuet is graceful and scored for only strings and woodwind
The movement is played twice
This minuet is much more sturdy than the last one, making it a fitting finale to the
This minuet is played 3 times: The first by trumpets, woodwind, strings and kettle
drums, the 2nd by horns, oboes, bassoons and kettle drums and finally by the
whole ensemble including side drums.
Although the fireworks were a huge disaster, Handels music made up for the
disappointment at that time.
CLASSICAL PERIOD C. 1750-1810
The term ‘classical’ is often used when people try to generalise music into 2
sections – classical and popular. However as musicians we specifically
mean music composed between 1750 and 1810
During this period artists preferred grace and beauty, perfection of form and
design, clarity and simplicity, proportion and balance. This was reflected in
the music. Composers used a rich variety of contrasting themes, rhythms,
keys and dynamics with frequent changes of timbre and mood.
W.A Mozart and Joseph Haydn were the main composers, although
Beethoven also became very influential towards the end of this period.
During this period the Orchestra grew significantly, the Classical Sonata was
developed and ‘entertainment’ works became more common – particularly
The main types of Vocal music composed was the Mass and opera.
FIRST MOVEMENT FROM EINE KLEINE NACHTMUSIK
• The title of this piece means ‘ a little night music’. The
piece is also described as a serenade, which means
• Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is scored for a small string
orchestra and is believed to have been composed to
be performed during a good meal.
• Serenades were often meant for outdoor
performances – possibly to be performed under
• The piece is in 4 movements. The first movement is in
sonata form, which has 3 main sections, rounded off
by a Coda
(not home key)
(Altered to lead to:)
Exposition: First theme
First theme (Part A) is played in Unison by the Whole Orchestra and is in
the key of G major.
First theme (Part B) is played by the Violins with a chord accompaniment
• First theme (Part C)
Exposition: Bridge Passage
Notice the range of dynamic contrasts and modulations as we progress
through this short section
Exposition: Second Theme
Notice we are now in a new key!
The Coda rounds off this section and effectively end the Exposition section
In this section, we hear all the themes introduced in the exposition. This time
they are repeated in a variety of different keys, with some ‘surprising modulations.
There is a short ‘link’ section which carries us back to our original key of G major
in the Recapitulation.
Romantic PERIOD: C. 1810-1910
The Renaissance period saw an era where composers moved away from the strict
rules of form and structure in a bid to show more intense and powerful emotions.
Harmonies were much fuller, more use of discords and chromatic notes and
The piano was improved dramatically, and the orchestra was also extended
significantly giving the composers a far wider range of pitch, volume and timbre.
The romantic composers produced a wide variety of works ranging from small,
solo works to huge orchestral works requiring an enormous number of musicians.
The main composers of the time were: Wagner, Mahler, Tchaikovsky and R.
Nationalism, opera, Lied and Symphonic Poems were popular types of works.
OVERTURE TO WILLIAM TELL
William Tell was a 14th century Swiss hero in a time when Switzerland was ruled
by Austria. William Tell refused to bow to the Austrian governor. As punishment
William was made to shoot with a bow and arrow an apple placed on a young
boys head. Thankfully, William sliced the apple and did not harm the boy.
The governor, a man called Gessler, realised that William had a 2 nd bow. When
asked what this was for, William replied ‘ It would split your heart if the boy had
been harmed’. Instead of releasing William, Gessler ordered him to be taken to a
dungeon on the far side of Lake Lucerne, but a violent storm helped William
William Tell did eventually shoot Gessler in the heart and then encouraged the
Swiss to revolt against the Austrians.
It was a German dramatist ‘ Schiller’ wrote a play on the story, which Rossini used
as a stimulus for his Opera
William Tell Monument
OVERTURE - INTRODUCTION
An overture is a piece played by the orchestra before the curtain rises. It uses
themes from the main opera.
In this case the music is divided into four sections: Unfortunately, Rossini did not
include the ‘apple’ incident.
The piece begins with 5 cellos, accompanied by other cellos, double basses and
kettle drums paint a picture of a sunrise over the Alps near Lake Lucerne.
Theme A and B represent this:
SECTION 2: ALPINE STORM
Rustling strings suggest the rising wind and the first spatters of rain are
represented by the woodwind
The storm breaks furiously, represented by the Trombones and the Bass Drum
With a rumble of strings and kettle drums the storm fades into the distance.
SECTION 3: SHEPHERDS ON THE MOUNTAIN
Rossini uses the clear tone of the flute to represent the blue sky after the storm.
The cor anglais imitates a cow herd playing a Swiss melody on the alpine horn
A decorated flute melody suggests bird song, hovering and fluttering, while the
triangle represents the peaceful but sad sound of the cow bells.
SECTION 4: REVOLUTION
The peace is shattered by a sudden fanfare on trumpets and horns entering in
This is followed by an exciting rhythmic gallop, describing the overthrow of the