Western Music and the Baroque Period


Baroque Period (Girl with a Pearl Earring - Vermeer,1665)

The girl with the pearl earring is Meisje met de parel in Dutch. It is one of the masterpieces of the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, and he exhibited the vivid tones, bright pictures, meticulous work, the fact that he had a single focal point in his paintings, and the play of light, which Vermeer used in his paintings, and many This painting has been called the Dutch Mona Lisa by some people. Today, this work is described as one of the most important works of the Baroque Period.

Renaissance Period (The Last Supper - Da Vinci, 1498)

In his portraits and compositions, Leonardo always goes from the soul to the body, from the inside out, and makes us feel the emotions strongly with the language of the face. In the picture; The artist who approaches the human spirit and reflects the spirit on the face and tells us the emotions is Vinci.

To understand Leonardo's greatness in painting, first of all, it is necessary to dwell on the composition and then on the light-shadow. Since his greatest composition is Cenacolo (The Last Supper), it should be noted that he excelled in this work.

One of the most important features of The Last Supper is its perspective . Da Vinci used hammer and nails in this work to increase the dramatic intensity and capture the right perspective.

Renaissance and Baroque

The understanding of painting, which changed with the new techniques that came with the Renaissance, broke away from a classical understanding with Mannerism and later "Baroque Art", attained a very theatrical expression and put an end to stagnation. The Baroque Period, in which the theatrical expression was intense, was a very important period in Europe, where contrasts were in harmony with each other and although it was a form of expression of the counter-reformation, it was a freely original expression and caused permanent changes. Baroque literally means 'asymmetrical, unusual'. Renaissance is 'rebirth'. Some segments refer to the Renaissance as "Return to Antiquity". However, for the Renaissance it can be said to represent becoming, for Baroque it is said to represent corruption, incongruity and innovation.

The dialectical connection between the two understandings of art stems from this extension. Since they emphasize and highlight the dialectical connection between these two art periods spanning 300 years in the most clear and understandable way (technical differences, tones, exaggerated images, linear changes), they are of great importance and make them analysable. Heinrich Wölfflin has best expressed this connection in terms of form.

Wölffin has brought a different dimension to aesthetics by explaining the form and style issues of the artist's mental state as a person who has interpreted the Renaissance and Baroque period artworks. He tried to explain the differences between classical periods in the history of art by using contrasts and was largely successful. He lived between 1864-1945 and enriched the history of art.

During the Renaissance, new standards were set in painting, sculpture, and architecture. Geniuses like Leonardo Da Vinci began to come to the fore. Pictures were brought closer to reality and gained a different dimension. The drawn portraits were approximated to real-life human silhouettes. In this period, realism, classicism and humanism movements were included with the scholastic thought destroyed by the influence of Renaissance scientists.

In addition, the gothic style was abandoned over time. Florence Cathedral (1420-1436), the first change in architecture, is old in style and new in technique. Brunelleschi felt gothic influences in this work, but after a while, this artist left the gothic style in St. Lorenzo Church emerged with his work.

In the Baroque period, the concepts such as stagnation, mediocrity, inactivity, and lifelessness were removed, and the portraits were made in which the facial expressions were increased, the contradictions were revealed, and expressionism was adopted. Baroque was created against the classicism movement of the Renaissance Period with its exaggeration of the difference of its techniques and its ornamentation.

In addition, Artemisia Gentileschi, of Italian origin, who lived in the Baroque Period and was the first great female painter of the 17th century, created a new angle by making emotional expressions with an extraordinary perspective, a narrative narrative, strong female characters, with her works immortalizing her self. In his best known work, Yudit's Murder of Holofernes, "It is about the murder of a Jewish woman, Yudit, by cutting the throat of the general Holofernes to save her people". And as seen in this work, Gentileschi used women's strength and narrative technique.

Judith Beheading Holofernes 1598-1599

Baroque Composers

Claudio Monteverdi: (1517-1643) Monteverdi went down in history as the talent that started the Baroque Period music. He developed opera and instrumental music. After the opening of Venice's first opera house in 1637, Monteverdi concentrated on composing operas and ; His works "ll ritorno d' Ulisse in patria" and "l'lncoronazione di Poppea" have survived to the present day. In addition, the composer, who is very creative, has been compared to Shakespeare in this respect throughout history.

Jean Bapsite Lully: (1632-1713) Lully was the most famous French composer of his time. He is considered an important name of the French opera style. In addition to operas, he composed music for ballet and church music for ceremonies and made a great impression. The most important feature of Lully is that he provided the Frenchization of Italian elements.

Arcangelo Corelli: (1653-1713) He is an Italian composer and violin virtuoso. He started his music career at the age of 13 with his education in Bologna. He is known as the founder of the modern violin playing technique. He greatly influenced the violinists who came after him. The songs on the Baroque album made a big impression, but he became famous with the Christmas Concerto. Also, Corelli's compositions consist of ”48 trio sonatas, 12 violins and continuo sonatas and 12 concerti grossi”. He managed to attract the attention of the nobles with his compositions and was always supported by the high noble Romans.

Antonio Vivaldi: (1675-1741) Known as the ”Red Priest”, the composer is an Italian and violin virtuoso. Vivaldi; He is one of the great composers of the first half of the 18th century. It can be called the pioneer of the concerto style. 'Salt' accelerated the development of music. His music has always been innovative and open to change. Known for his concertos, Vivaldi revived the rhythmic and formal structure of the concerto with harmonic contrasts, innovative melodies and themes. He brought a new breath to the concerto. His best known work is the Four Seasons Concertos, which even those who do not listen to classical music know.The Four Seasons) is .

Johann Sebastian Bach: (1685-1750) Bach has always been a respected composer thanks to his command of music and his intellectual depth. The composer, who is of German origin, has improved himself with the adaptation of the forms and structures of the rhythms he received from countries such as France and Italy, and his mastery in the organization of harmony musical motifs. Bach, who was not very famous in his own time, has been famous since the 19th century and has become immortal with his works.

George Frederick Handel: (1658-1759) Handel, of German origin, is the most important composer of the Baroque period together with Bach. He wrote music with dramatic elements such as opera and oratorio. The works of Handel, who is a Baroque composer, in some aspects also give signs of the classical period (such as addressing the middle class with his oratorios) and even the romantic period (such as describing nature in his operas).

Baroque Theaters

In the Baroque period, the theater stage symbolized and defended the perspective of “the impermanence of the world” with an allegorical form by removing the discord – conflict expression and objectivity movement between people, as in the Renaissance, and bringing innovations in the stage technique, and in this period, the theater dominated all the performances in European palaces.

For example, the French palace has surpassed Italy, which has always been the capital of fashion in history, in terms of richness in opera costumes and has turned to theater more. In France, the bourgeois took part in the performances in the royal theaters themselves; therefore, they used costumes made of expensive fabrics and adorned with eye-catching jewels in order to appear more ostentatious and wealthy than each other.

Baroque opera and ballet had their heyday (1643-1715). The first important stage designer of the period, Italian Giacomo Torelli, designed machines to fly characters on stage, imitate aerial effects, and so on, hence the nickname "the great magician". Over time, the French began to replace the Italians in the French court. In the costumes, the general lines of the 16th century were formed by fluffy and gathered sleeves and a circled inner skirt.

Heroes completed their kneecaps with bow-tie panties, but such panties-pants were not used in daily life, but only in funny ballet costumes and comedy plays, adhering to the stage-curtain rule.

In more serious productions, Roman costumes were used. All of the heroes wore short costumes reminiscent of Roman soldier tunics. In addition, the helmets were used exaggeratedly decorated with long feathered crests, which was not seen in Rome, and the length of the boots was up to the middle of the calves. All these garments actually show how exaggerated and ornamental the Baroque Period was.

Important Painters of the Baroque Era

Caravaggio: An Italian painter, Caravaggio is considered the first great artist of the Baroque art movement. Caravaggio has been one of the most original practitioners of Baroque art with his strong use of light and shadow and his dramatic approach to pictorial arrangement, which has increased his popularity.

In order to understand the painter who carries images of 15th century Europe in his paintings, it is necessary to take a look at the Europe of the 1500s and to look at the techniques used at that time. At that time, there was no distinction between art and craft. Churches were the only buyers of art.

Paintings were ordered with strict conventions, and the directive of everything from the subject to the figures and the colors to be used was conveyed directly to the artist. Even da Vinci painted by adhering to these conventions.

Peter Paul Rubens: Unlike other painters, a scientist educated with Renaissance humanism, art

Although he was educated in classical Renaissance humanism, he is a painter who reflected the Baroque style well and produced wonderful works.

Since his paintings and portraits were very popular and appreciated throughout his life, his popularity increased considerably and he earned a good income according to many painters. However, his life was full of wealth, happiness and success.

In addition, Archduke Albrecht, who was greatly influenced by Rubens' mind, knowledge, manners, culture and speaking ability, commissioned himself as a court painter.

Johannes Vermeer: The most important feature of the painter is that the jewellery, fabrics, crockery and dishes are kept alive to be touched by hand and what he wants to tell is full of mysteries and secrets.

The painter, who uses light and color tones skillfully, generally uses portraits of women. Today, some of them are exhibited in private collections in Paris and New York, and the most important ones are exhibited in museums.

Jusepe De Ribera: painter who is Spanish and engraver ; He became famous as a painter of painful events and situations and the hopelessness of humanity, and reflected the pain with a realism that sometimes flies into vulgarity. Some of Ribero's works are now exhibited in the Louvre Museum, the Prado Museum and the National Gallery.

Baroque Period Music

With the Baroque Period, instrumental music showed great progress. The new ways tried under the influence of this trend have brought about important changes. In this period, the foundations of modern harmony knowledge were laid, string instruments were developed, and opera was born.

The merging of vocal music and instrumental music also began in the Baroque period. The human voice merges with the continuous bass instruments that serve as accompaniment. In order to create contrast (contrast), the vocals are animated and ornate. With the end of the 16th century, Italian composers began to concentrate on polyphonic music they wrote on poems, which they called madrigal.

It can be said that Monteverdi's opera works and madrigals were the pinnacle of the early baroque period and led to the music that followed. Its spread to Europe was thanks to the German-British composer George Frideric Handel. Handel composed the famous Messiah oratorio in England.

Sonata is another musical form that found itself in the early Baroque period. In Italy, a sonata was a work consisting of slow and fast dance pieces, or works that developed with slow-fast contrasts. Outside of Italy, dance pieces called suites were composed. The suite form, which was as common as sonatas in the Baroque period, lost its popularity over time and the sonata form became permanent.

The first sonatas were written either for a single instrument or for a small group. Another important feature of the Baroque period in the development of sonata form is Tonality, which is beginning to emerge. Composers and instrumentalists developed functional tonality and began to apply much more elaborate and subtle musical ornaments.

In addition, Baroque began with opera trials in Italy, expanded in this period with ornament, exaggeration and contrast, and has survived from that time to the present day.

As a result, although the Baroque period was not criticized, humiliated and disliked in the Classical period that came after it, it was influenced and benefited from the different techniques, fundamental changes, musical richness and architectural structure of that period used in the paintings of the period.

The decoration, exaggeration and contrasts of the Baroque Period influenced many composers and painters who lived after his period, and this situation was also reflected in the works of painters and composers.

Whether a work belongs to the Baroque period or not, by looking at the ornamentation exaggeration in its decor, by examining the details of the figures in the portraits, it is possible to identify churches, domes, etc. Since it has more oval lines, we can understand whether there are ostentatious fountains and pools.


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Renaissance and Baroque - Özkan Eroğlu

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