The Baroque era was amazing for music. Scores of the world’s greatest composers were in their heyday from around 1600 to 1750, creating heaps of timeless compositions. These are the greatest Baroque composers ranked from best to worst by classical music fans and just music lovers in general.
When it comes to the best Baroque composers, they came from various backgrounds and from countries all over the world. Some of these musicians, a couple of the more famous Baroque composers have even written music that is still popular to this day.
- Top Famous Baroque Composers
- 1. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
- 2. George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
- 3. Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
- 4. Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
- 5. Georg Phillip Telemann (1681-1767)
- 6. Arcangelo Corelli (1653–1713)
- 7. Francesca Caccini (1587-1640)
- 8. Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757)
- 9. Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751)
- 10. Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736)
- 11. Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643)
- 12. Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764)
- FAQ for Famous Baroque Composers
- What are famous baroque composers?
- What is the difference between baroque and classical music?
- How did the style of their music change over time?
- Who was a famous female composer of baroque music?
- Who were some of the best baroque composers in Italy?
- Who were some of the best baroque composers in Germany?
- Who were some of the best baroque composers in France?
- Who were some of the best baroque composers in Austria?
Top Famous Baroque Composers
The diverse music and rich history of the 150-year Baroque period wouldn’t be the same without these skilled Baroque composers. Some names of the most famous baroque music composers may sound familiar to you.
Today we’re doing a little rundown of the lives, famous works, and biographies of some of the great composers from the Baroque period. Knowing who they were and where they came from is a great start if you want to learn more about the classical music genre.
1. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Bach was a musical genius who came from a family of some really big-name composers. He became admired for his skill in music and was also known for playing all instruments by ear – without reading the music beforehand. Felix Mendelssohn spent some time in Holland. There, he played the St. Matthew Passion to large audiences who had never heard of Bach before.
Bach wrote his music using various musical instruments, including the organ, harpsichord, and choirs. He also used orchestras and concertos with different combinations of instruments. Johann Sebastian Bach was a Baroque composer and musician who is one of the best to have ever lived. His talent was exceptional.
His impact has been compared to the extremes of other artists: Shakespeare for literature and Leonardo da Vinci for art. J.S. Bach’s tunes include the organ and harpsichord, and also chorales for four-part settings of Lutheran hymns.
He created the “concerto grosso”…in which a small group of soloists or virtuosos are accompanied by an orchestra. He’s also known for his Brandenburg Concertos in which he pioneered the Concerto Grosso style.
In the Baroque period, new instruments and compositional forms were created. The sonata, a solo or instrumental piece, is one of them and Bach used different instruments including violin and piano.
The church of Leipzig was where Bach was employed, and where he composed some of his most celebrated religious choral music, including two settings of the Gospels: St. John and St. Mathew Passions.
2. George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Handel was a musical genius from a really young age. He composed and published his first opera when he was just 18! Handel is also one of the best-known baroque composers. Millions have a joyous reaction to his work, including anthems, operas, oratorios, and organ concertos.
Handel was German until his passport petition to become a British citizen in 1727.
He was already a famous composer, but it was his musical pieces that really got the British public on his side. Oratorios were just like operas but with different types of stories, and they weren’t staged.
Two of Handel’s most famous works are the “Hallelujah chorus” on Christmas and the “Music for Royal Fireworks.” Messiah, tells a story about Christ in an epic way and is still widely popular.
He created a number of coronation anthems, such as Zadok the Priest, which has been played at every recent British monarch’s coronation.
Ultimate composer, Beethoven describes himself as being the “master of us all,” and he is “the greatest composer who ever lived.” Mozart was also influenced by him and said that “even in his grave or out I go to hear mine.
3. Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
A review of great baroque composers is incomplete without the mention of Antonio Vivaldi.
The violin concertos of Antonio Vivaldi are among the most popular pieces in baroque music. They are often referred to as “The Four Seasons.” It has three movements that correspond to the seasons, Spring, Summer, and Autumn respectively.
Vivaldi also published sonnets to accompany each musical season. It was an innovative foretaste of things to come from baroque music composers during the Romantic period.
Vivaldi, who had red hair, was referred to as “il Prete Rosso” or “The Red Priest.” After being ordained as a priest and no longer celebrating mass, he eventually died in 1741. Vivaldi indicated to biographers that he was feeling some physical pain, but most historians believe that his apparent illness might have been exaggerated for fear of confrontation with the church.
A prolific composer, Vivaldi wrote 470 musical works, some of which were sacred and operatic.
4. Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
Purcell, one of the most influential Baroque composers, is also one of the greatest British composers of all time. Some people might say that 36 is a dangerous age to die. But there’s no denying that Purcell’s music had an effect on modern-day music into the early 20th century.
He stayed in Westminster all his life where he worked at the Royal Court writing music for churches and royal events.
Purcell was employed by the court for most of his life. His “Dido and Aeneas” is one of the best musicals to come out of the Baroque era.
5. Georg Phillip Telemann (1681-1767)
Georg Phillip Telemann, another star in our list of baroque composers, wrote more than 3,000 works in his lifetime. Telemann’s music combines Polish, German, Italian, and French styles. You’ll find that it is both sacred and operatic. He also incorporates orchestral suites with no problem!
Telemann was a self-taught musician who wanted to be anything but that. He wanted to stay away from music and focus on his other profession(s) but he ended up becoming one of the most prolific and influential composers of his day.
One of Telemann’s most famous pieces is “The Water Overture in C Major.” It’s often played at weddings.
6. Arcangelo Corelli (1653–1713)
In the 1600-1650s, Baroque music marked the start of what culture now calls “The Common Practice Era.” This era differed from the Medieval to Renaissance eras in that it focused on standard cadences.
Compared to Medieval music and Renaissance music, tonal key centers and standard cadences are now more prevalent in music today.
Arcangelo Corelli was a famous music composer from Italy. He was one of the people who helped the Common Practice Era become what it is today. The Italian composer has also influenced many instrumental techniques, including performance styles.
He not only wrote numerous concertos but was also a standout violin virtuoso and greatly influenced how the instrument is played.
He was a world-famous violinist in his day and composing music ranging from violin sonatas to concertos. Some of Corelli’s works include the “Adagio” (Violin Sonata Op. 5 No. 3 C Major) and the “Sarabande” (Violin Sonata Op. 5 No.
7. Francesca Caccini (1587-1640)
When music historians discuss Italian Baroque-era composers, Francesca Caccini is often considered the greatest female composer of the era. Her father, Giulio Caccini, was a Renaissance-era master. Her mother (Lucia Gagnolanti), stepmothers (Margherita della Scala and Settimia Caccini), and sister.
Caccini sometimes performed with her relatives at the court, and once competed against another woman in a singing contest. Her famous Medici family in Florence often used her to provide musical entertainment, such as wedding music for Maria de Medici and Henri IV.
Caccini was one of the most famous singers of her day and she also wrote some operas herself.
Caccini’s “La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina” is her best work.
8. Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757)
Three of the world’s most celebrated baroque composers (Scarlatti, Bach, and Handel) were born in 1685.
Takeshi, the son of famous composer Alessandro Scarlatti, was born in Naples. He spent much of his life serving the royal families of Spain and Portugal. Scarlatti wrote 555 Sonatas for the organ, clavichord, fortepiano, and harpsichord.
One of the most popular Baroque composers, Domenico Scarlatti’s sonatas numbers I-XXX are still relevant to audiences today.
9. Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751)
Tomaso Albinoni of Venice was a contemporary of the better-known composer, “Vivaldi”. His famous works include “Oboe Concerto” and “Adagio in G Minor.”
According to Michael Talbot, a biographer of Albinoni (1990), the Composer’s vocal music was undervalued at the time.
Unlike many of his fellow composers, Albinoni didn’t have strong connections to the church. He was also the first Italian Baroque composer to use the solo oboe in his concerti (Op.7).
His works “12 Concerti a cinque Op. 9,” “Adagio for Violin and Cello Duet,” and “Adagio ‘prière’ for Solo Violin” has been popular with audiences since they were released.
Albinoni’s instrumental pieces were well-received by Johann Sebastian Bach. He paid tribute to Albinoni in two of his own compositions: “Fugue in A major, on a theme by Tomaso Albinoni” and “Fugue in B minor on a theme by Tomaso Albinoni.”
Albinoni’s early life and work are well-documented, but not much is known about his personal life and music post-1720 due to unfortunate circumstances such as the destruction of the Dresden State Library.
Discover this masterpiece by Albinoni- “Adagio for Violin and Cello Duet”, “Adagio in G Minor for Violin and Piano,”, and “Adagio ‘prière’ for Solo Violin”. These pieces are popular with listeners worldwide.
10. Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736)
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, born Giovanni Battista Draghi, was a composer, organist, and violinist. He’s given his nickname as he was born in the city where his ancestors grew up.
He studied with important painters of the Italian Baroque, including Francesco Santi, Francesco Feo, and others. He was a best-selling composer of opera who wrote the very popular “Stabat Mater” of 1736 in honor of Mary, Mother of Christ, and “La Serva Patrona” in 1733 who turned the tables.
One thing to keep in mind when writing is that you can’t please everyone. You should think of your own voice and stick to it regardless of external input or feedback.
It’s unfortunate that Pergolesi died at such a young age – 26 years old to be exact. His work was rearranged and even copied by other Baroque period composers like Johann Sebastian Bach.
11. Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643)
Famed Baroque composer Claudio Monteverdi was also a transitional composer. Starting at 15 and living in both the Renaissance and Baroque periods, he is recognized as an influential musician.
Claudio Monteverdi is credited with writing the first operas we still enjoy to this day. His piece L’Orfeo focuses on the ancient Greek legend of Orpheus.
Apart from more than forty instruments, the opera includes characters and scenes played by diverse instrumental groups. L’Orfeo is composed in the style of the late Renaissance; it uses polyphony to unite all themes scattered throughout the story.
Monteverdi also created the “Vespers,” a religious composition combining orchestral, chorus, soloists, and opera.
12. Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764)
Jean-Philippe Rameau is a famous French Baroque composer. He is known for his operas, and theatrical works and as a music theorist and organist. Some people credit him to the use of “baroque” in defining the musical period.
Rameau was a French Baroque era composer, organist, and music theorist. His father was an organist who taught him how to compose – no wonder he followed in his creative footsteps! He spent some years studying music in Italy. Like other composers of the time, he came back to France with a newfound love for Italian cantatas which influenced his.
He wrote, “Treatise on Harmony” (1722) and “new System of Music Theory” (1726), which made him popular with the intellectual culture of French salons.
In 1733, Rameau started to produce opera and in the next few years created Hippolyte et Aricie, Castor et Pollux, and Les Indes Galantes.
12 years after the composer’s death, he was finally recognized by the French court and given the title of “master of the king’s chamber and a royal pension.” Unlike a lot of musicians in the Baroque era, Rameau wasn’t poor.
The music of the baroque period is timeless and ageless. Vivaldi sounds like a modern composer to you. Do the comedy in the baroque era make you laugh? Take a moment to explore the works of famous baroque composers who aren’t yet familiar to you. Find new favorites. Share your insights with others you love.
FAQ for Famous Baroque Composers
What are famous baroque composers?
Baroque music is a style of European music that was popular from the 1600s to the 1750s. The word baroque comes from the Portuguese word “barroco” which means “irregular pearl”.
Famous Baroque composers include:
- Johann Sebastian Bach
- Antonio Vivaldi
- George Frideric Handel
What is the difference between baroque and classical music?
Baroque music is a musical style from the 17th and 18th centuries. It is characterized by a clear, light texture, and often includes instruments like harpsichords and flutes.
Classical music is also a musical style that has been around for centuries. It’s characterized by its use of scales, melodies, rhythms, and harmonies.
How did the style of their music change over time?
The Beatles’ music changed over time. They started with a raw rock sound, but as they matured, their music became more sophisticated and complex.
The Beatles’ style of music changed over time. When the band first started out, their sound was raw and simple. As they matured, their sound became more sophisticated and complex.
Who was a famous female composer of baroque music?
This question is about female composers of baroque music. One of the most famous female composers of baroque music is Barbara Strozzi.
Who were some of the best baroque composers in Italy?
One of the best baroque composers from Italy was Antonio Vivaldi. He is often referred to as the Red Priest because of his red hair and his Catholic faith. He was a prolific composer who wrote more than 500 concertos, operas, and sacred choral works. He also wrote many instrumental pieces such as sonatas and sinfonias.
Who were some of the best baroque composers in Germany?
The best baroque composers in Germany include Johann Pachelbel, Dieterich Buxtehude, and Johann Sebastian Bach.
Pachelbel is best known for his Canon in D. His compositions are often considered to be the most popular of all time.
Buxtehude is best known for his organ playing and composed many pieces for the instrument.
Bach is best known for his Brandenburg Concertos and The Well-Tempered Clavier.
Who were some of the best baroque composers in France?
The baroque era was a time of great change in France. It was a time of religious turmoil and wars, but also a time of great artistic achievement. The most famous composers from the period are Lully, Rameau, Couperin, and Charpentier.
Who were some of the best baroque composers in Austria?
The baroque period in Austria is characterized by the artistic and cultural flourishing of the country. It is also known for its composers. Some of the best baroque composers in Austria are:
- Franz Joseph Haydn
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Antonio Vivaldi
- George Frideric Handel
- Giuseppe Tartini