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Top 10 Baroque Period Composers


The music of the Baroque Period is even more popular today than it was four hundred years ago. Its unique styles, textures, and forms enchant and delight millions of listeners each year. From Bach to Sammartini, each composer on this list greatly influenced the shape and course of classical music. And though I would love to include the many other Baroque Period composers because they, too, had a great impact on the music, there's just not enough room in a Top 10 list.

1. Johann Sebastian Bach

Orchestra of St. Luke's rehearsing Bach's 'St. Matthew Passion' at Carnegie Hall.
Hiroyuki Ito/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Coming in at number one is Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach was a genius keyboardist (mastering the organ and harpsichord) and brilliant composer. Bach brought baroque music to its culmination, writing music for nearly every type of musical form.
Popular Works: Air on a G String, Double Violin Concerto, Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, B Minor Mass, and The Unaccompanied Cello Suites

2. George Frideric Handel

Born in the same year as Johann Sebastian Bach in a town fifty miles away, George Frideric Handel, who later became a British citizen, lead a much different life than Bach. Handel, too, composed for every musical genre of his time, even creating the English oratorio.
Popular Works: The Messiah, Music for the Royal Fireworks, and Water Music

3. Antonio Vivaldi

Vivaldi wrote over 500 concertos and is believed to have invented ritornello form (a theme returning throughout the piece). However, much of Vivaldi’s music lay “undiscovered” until the early 1930’s; this newly discovered music earned Vivaldi the title “The Viennese Counterpart to Bach and Handel.”
Popular Works: The Four Seasons, Gloria, and Con Alla Rustica in G

4. George Philipp Telemann

A good friend of both Bach and Handel, George Philipp Telemann was also a distinguished musician and composer of his time. Telemann’s incorporation of unusual instrumentation in his concertos is one of the things that that made him unique.
Popular Works: Viola Concerto in G, Trio Sonata in C minor, and the Paris Quartets

5. Arcangelo Corelli

Arcangelo Corelli was an Italian teacher, violinist, and composer. Corelli’s mastery of the tone of the newly invented violin earned him great reviews throughout Europe. He is coined to have been the first person to create basic violin technique.
Popular Works: Concerto Grossi, Christmas Concerto, and Sonata de camera in D minor

6. Henry Purcell

Within a lifetime of only thirty-five years, Purcell achieved musical greatness by being considered one of England’s greatest composers and the most original composer of his time. Purcell was extremely talented in word-setting and composed very successful works for stage.
Popular Works: Dido & Aeneas, The Fairy Queen, and Sound the Trumpet

7. Domenico Scarlatti

Domenico Scarlatti, son of Alessandro Scarlatti (another well-known baroque composer), wrote 555 known harpsichord sonatas, of which, over half was written in the last six years of his life. Scarlatti made use of Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish dance rhythms throughout many of his works.
Popular Works: Essercizi per Gravicembalo (sonatas for harpsichord)

8. Jean-Philippe Rameau

A French composer, Jean-Philippe Rameau’s music was known for its bold melodic lines and harmonies. Aside from harpsichord, Rameau’s greatest contribution to music was in tragédie lyrique opera. His wide use of moods and musical colors were beyond those of his counterparts.
Popular Works: Hippolyte et Aricie and Castor et Pollux, Trait, and Les Indes galantes

9. Johann Pachelbel

Johann Pachelbel taught Johann Christoph Bach (J.S. Bach’s older brother) music. J.C. Bach said that J.S. Bach greatly admired Pachelbel’s music. Pachelbel’s music is considered by many to be stylistically related to J.S. Bach’s.
Popular Works: Pachelbel Canon, Chaconne in F minor, and Toccata in C minor for organ

10. Giovanni Battista Sammartini

Giovanni Battista Sammartini is one of the earliest composers of the symphony (sixty-eight of them have survived). Many believe his symphonic works and thematic development are the precursors to Hayd and Mozart.
Popular Works: Sonata No. 3, Recorder Sonata in A minor

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