Baroque orchestra

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The Baroque orchestra is the type of orchestra that existed during the Baroque era, commonly identified as 1600-1750.[1] Its origins were in France where Jean-Baptiste Lully added the newly re-designed hautbois and transverse flutes to his vingt-quatre violons du Roy. As well as violins and woodwinds, the baroque orchestra contained continuo instruments such as the theorbo and harpsichord.

In the Baroque period, the orchestra was not standardised in size. There were large differences in size, instrumentation and playing styles - and therefore orchestral soundscapes and palettes - between the various European regions. The 'Baroque orchestra' ranged from smaller orchestras (or ensembles) with one player per part, to larger scale orchestras with many players per part. Examples of the smaller variety were Bach's orchestras, for example in Koethen where he had access to an ensemble of up to 18 players. Examples of large scale Baroque orchestras would include Corelli's orchestra in Rome which ranged between 35 and 80 players for day-to-day performances, being enlarged to 150 players for special occasions.[2]

The term 'Baroque orchestra' is commonly used today to refer to chamber orchestras giving historically informed performances of baroque or classical on period Baroque instruments or replicas. The period-instrument revival during the 1970s inspired the development of the first period-instrument baroque orchestras, led by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Gustav Leonhardt, Frans Bruggen and Terrence Holford. Since then many baroque orchestras have been formed across Europe, as well as some in North America. Baroque orchestras of today include:


Group of 5 sections

2 Flutes
2 Oboes
2 Bassoons
2 Recorders
2 Horns (in any key)
2 Trumpets (in any key)
6 Violins I
6 Violins II
4 Violas
2 Violoncellos

Recordings of baroque music[edit]


  1. ^ Wade-Matthews, Max and Wendy Thompson. The Encyclopedia of Music. London: Hermes House, 2004. Retrieved 10 September 2011
  2. ^ Pannain, Guido. "Arcangelo Corelli". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 

See also[edit]

Discover Music of the Baroque Era