A History of Western Music

By Donald Jay Grout; Claude V. Palisca | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11

INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN
THE LATE BAROQUE PERIOD

In the second half of the seventeenth century composers no longer wrote for a certain number of parts, leaving decisions about instrumentation to the performer. Having to write for specific instruments both inspired and challenged a composer's imagination. The possibilities offered by the modern organs, the two-manual harpsichord, and the violin family elicited new idioms, genres, and formal structures.

The principal types of compositions associated with each of the two major instrumental categories are

Keyboard: toccata (or prelude, fantasia) and fugue; arrangements of Lutheran chorales or other liturgical material (chorale prelude, verset, etc. ); variations; passacaglia and chaconne; suite; and sonata (after 1700).

Ensemble: sonata (sonata da chiesa), sinfonia, and related genres; suite (sonata da camera) and related genres; and concerto.


ORGAN MUSIC

The Baroque Organ

The so-called Baroque organ is familiar to us from the many modern copies of early-eighteenth-century instruments, especially those built by Arp Schnitger (1648-1718) and Gottfried Silbermann (1683-1753; see illustration, page 351). Silbermann was trained in France and Alsace, and, like other German organ builders, was influenced by the French full organ, or plein jeu, and by the colors of the stops used in France to play solos and contrapuntal lines. The German builders also learned from the highly developed instruments constructed

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