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Baroque Era

English parliament passes Act of Settlement: sovereigns must be Protestants • Exiled ex-king James II dies • War of Spanish Succession begins • Elector Frederick III of Brandenburg adopts title of King Frederick I of Prussia

William III dies; is succeeded in Britain and Ireland by his sister-in-law Anne, younger daughter of James II • In War of Spanish Succession, England declares war on France • Journalist Daniel Defoe (Eng): pamphlet
The Shortest Way with the Dissenters, lampooning the absurdity of religious intolerance; it results in his imprisonment
Hungarians begin revolt against Austrian rule • In Great Northern War, Swedes defeat Saxons at Pultusk, Saxony • Tsar Petr I, the Great (Russ), founds the city of St Petersburg • A powerful earthquake rocks Tokyo, killing 100,000 people • Scientist Isaac Newton (Eng) becomes Presidpbt of the Royal Society • 
Sebastiano Ricci – Rape of the Sabine Women
In the war of the Spanish Succession, Austrians and English defeat French Bavarian force at Blenheim and knock Bavaria out of the war; English fleet captures Gibraltar from Spain • Isaac Newton (Eng) publishes
Opticks, propounding the corpuscular theory of light and explaining his ‘Method of Fluxions’ (calculus)
War of Spanish Succession continues; on behalf of Archduke Karl, a British force captures Barcelona; much of eastern Spain accepts Karl as King Carlos III; Austrians begin pushing French out of Savoy • An Ottoman officer, Flussein bin Ali, frees city of Tunis from Turkish rule and founds the Flusseinite dynasty 

Daniel Defoe (c. 1660 – 24 April 1731), was an English trader, writer, journalist, pamphleteer, and spy. He is most famous for his novel Robinson Crusoe.



The 16-year-old Johann Sebastian Bach, hungry and virtually penniless, stops at an inn on his return to Liineburg. A diner throws two heads of herring out of a window. Picking them up for a nibble, Bach finds a Danish ducat in the mouth of each fish, the equivalent of six months’ stipend for a chorister.

Composer Giovanni Battista Sammartini is born around this time, probably in Milan.

Sebastien de Brossard publishes the first version of his Dictionnaire de musique, the earliest French language music dictionary.

Alessandro Scarlatti arranges for his 15-year-old son, Domenico Scarlatti, to take the position of organist and composer at the royal chapel in Naples.

Johann Kuhnau is made Kantor of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig.

Johann Joseph Fux goes to print with his Concentus musico-instrumentalis, a varied collection of suites for forces ranging from chamber duet up to full orchestra.

Johann Joseph Fux - Concentus Musico-Instrumentalis, Opus I

Twelve concerti grossi by Georg Muffat are published in Passau.

Georg Muffat: 12 Concerti Grossi
1. Concerto No.1 in d "Bona nova" [Sonata.Grave-Allegro-Ballo.Allegro-Grave-Aria-Giga]
2. Concerto No.2 in A "Cor vigilans" [Sonata.Grave-Presto-Corrente.Allegro=Grave-Gavotta-Rondeau.Allegro]
3. Concerto No.3 in B "Convalescentia" [Sonata.Grave-Aria.Presto-grave-Giga I.Presto-Giga II.Allegro]
4. Concerto No.4 in g "Dulce somnium" [Sonata.Grave-Sarabanda.Grave-Grave-Adagio-Aria.Allegro-Borea]
5. Concerto No.5 in D "Saeculum" [Sonata.Grave-Allegro-Allemanda.Largo.Grave-Gavotta-Menuet]
6. Concerto No.6 in a "Quis hic?" [Sonata.Allegro-Aria.Allegro-Grave-Aria.Allegro-Borea]
7. Concerto No.7 in E "Deliciae Regum" [Sonata.Grave-Aria.Largo-Gavotta-Grave-Giga.Allegro-Menuet]
8. Concerto No.8 in F "Coronatio Augusta" [Sonata.Grave-Allemanda.Largo-Grave-Gavotta-Rondeau.Allegro]
9. Concerto No.9 in c "Victoria maesta" [Sonata.Grave-Allegro-Aria.Allegro-Allegro-Grave-Sarabanda.Adagio-Borea]
10. Concerto No.10 in G "Perseverantia" [Allemanda.Largo-Grave-Gavotta-Menuet]
11. Concerto No.11 in e "Delirium amoris" [Sonata.Grave-Ballo.Allegro-Grave-Menuet.Allegro-Giga]
12. Concerto No.12 in G "Propita Sydera" [Sonata.Grave-Aria.Largo-Gavotta-Grave-Ciacona-Borea.Allegro]

Four competition finalists present their settings of William Congreve’s masque The Judgment of Paris at London’s Dorset Garden Theatre. The little-known John Weldon wins the first prize of 100 guineas, followed (in order) by John EcclesDaniel Purcell and the Moravian Gottfried Finger. Incredulous of the result, Finger leaves the country in protest.

The Judgement of Paris (John Eccles)

The Judgement of Paris (Daniel Purcell)

The Judgment of Paris: a pastoral composed
for the music-prize, by Daniel Purcell

Georg Philipp Telemann arrives in Leipzig to study law, but very quickly becomes diverted into the city’s musical life.

Giovanni Battista Sammartini

(b. Milan, 1700 or 1701; d. Milan, January 15, 1775)


father, Alexis Saint-Martin, was a French-born oboist who had emigrated to Italy. Sammartini studied with his father and was active as an oboist in the early years of his career. In 1728 he was appointed maestro di cappella for the Congregazione del Santissimo Entierro in Milan, in which post he continued to serve until shortly before his death; in 1768 he also became maestro di cappella to the ducal court. It is possible, though not certain, that between 1737 and 1741 he taught Christoph Willibald Gluck; in 1770, he befriended the young Wolfgang Mozart. Sammartini was one of the early masters of the symphony. In addition to composing at least 70 works in that nascent form—and thereby helping to imbue it with the Italianate liveliness that remained part of its character through the works of Mozart—he also wrote three operas, a number of concern grossi, and reams of church music and chamber music. Altogether, his output totaled close to 2,000 compositions, many of which are now lost.

He was well versed in the ways of counterpoint and proper harmony. This made him a very skilled composer of his time. One of Giuseppe’s first published collections was a set of 12 trio sonatas. It was published in London by Walsh & Hare. Sammartini’s career as a composer advanced when he was hired as the music master for the Prince of Wales, Frederick, and his wife Augusta. He worked for them and their children from 1736 until his death in 1750. While working for the family, Sammartini dedicated many works to the different members of the family. His 12 sonatas op. 1 were dedicated to Frederick, and his 12 trios op. 3 to Augusta. Sammartini was clearly very attached to this family, writing everything from these wonderful collections to simple birthday tunes for the children.

Giovanni Battista Sammartini - Sinfonia in A major J-C 60

Giovanni Battista Sammartini  - Flute Concertino in D major

Giovanni Battista Sammartini - Oboe Concerto in D major

Giovanni Battista Sammartini - Beatus Vir in D-major

Giovanni Battista Sammartini - Maria Addolorata

Giovanni Battista Sammartini - "Sacred cantatas"

Giovanni Battista Sammartini


Johann Sebastian Bach wins the post of organist at the Jacobikirche, Sangerhausen, but to no avail. The Duke of Weissenfels overrules the church’s decision, favouring instead a slightly older applicant, Johann Augustin Kobelius.

In Leipzig Georg Philipp Telemann establishes a student collegium musicum to provide both public and private concerts, and also church music. Regularly composing for the city’s Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche, Telemann also becomes musical director of the Leipzig Opera.

French composer and flautist Michel de La Barre publishes his Op. 4 suites for flute and continuo, the earliest known works of their kind.

Michel de La Barre 4ème - Suite à deux flûtes sans basse

Antonio Caldara flees with Duke Gonzaga’s court during the War of the Spanish Succession as Habsburg forces advance on Mantua.

George Frederic Handel begins studying law at the University of Halle, and also takes the post of organist at the city’s Calvinist Domkirche.

Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer publishes 20 preludes and fugues in 18 different keys in his Ariadne musica. Influenced by this work, Johann Sebastian Bach will later incorporate some of Fischer’s themes into the Well-Tempered Clavier (1722).

Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer - Ariadne Musica

7 November
Andre Campra triumphs with Tancrede at the Theatre du Palais-Royal in Paris. This tragedie en musique becomes one of his most frequently performed operas.

Andre Campra: «Tancrède» 



George Frideric Handel throws in the towel on his legal studies and moves to Hamburg, where he takes a position of violinist at the opera house. There he begins his friendship with Johann Mattheson.

Georg Motz, (b Augsburg, 24 Dec 1653; d Tilsit, 25 Sept 1733, German organist and writer on music)  publishes The Defence of Church Music, a strong counter-critique to Christian Gerber’s disapproval of music in the Lutheran service.

Johann Sebastian Bach becomes a court violinist to Duke Johann Ernst of Weimar, but soon leaves to take up the post of organist at the Neue Kirche in Arnstadt.

G. F. Handel accompanies Johann Mattheson on a trip to Lubeck to assess the prospects for employment at the Marienkirche. The post of organist, currently held by the renowned but ageing Buxtehude, is an attractive one. Possibly less attractive is the requirement that the successful applicant should marry his predecessors eldest available daughter. Suffice to note that Handel and Mattheson flee back to Hamburg.

Antonio Vivaldi becomes maestro di violino at the Ospedale della Pieta, a school for orphaned and illegitimate girls, in Venice.

The Pieta enjoys prominent status in Venice, with regular concerts and services attended by resident and visiting nobility.

In Rome Alessandro Scarlatti becomes assistant maestro di cappella at the Oratorio di San Filippo Neri, Chiesa Nuova. At the end of this year he takes a second similar position at the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Accepting opera commissions outside Rome from Ferdinando de’ Medici (such as Arminio, this year) and composing numerous secular cantatas besides, Scarlatti frequently fails to deliver on all of his church duties.

23 March
Antonio Vivaldi is ordained a priest.

14 October
Le Camaval et la Folie, a comedie lyrique by Andre Cardinal Destouchespremieres with notable success at Fontainebleau.

André-Cardinal Destouches - «Le Carnaval et la Folie» Comédie-ballet en quatre actes et un prologue sur un livret d'Antoine Houdar de la Motte d'apres «Eloge de la Folie» d'Erasme 1703

1. Act I 0:01
2. Act II 24:11
3. Act III 47:07
4. Act IV 1:16:10

31 March
Johann Christoph Bach, composer, organist, first cousin once removed of Johann Sebastian Bach and up to this point the most renowned member of the family, dies in Eisenach, aged 60.

30 November
Nicolas de Grigny, distinguished French organist-composer, dies aged 31 in Reims, where he had been serving as cathedral organist.

Alessandro Scarlatti’s oratorio L’assunzione della Beata Vergine Maria, with text by (Cardinal) Pietro Ottoboni (2 July 1667 – 29 February 1740, Italian cardinal and grandnephew of Pope Alexander VIII), is first performed in Rome.

Alessandro Scarlatti - La Concettione della Beata Vergine

Domenico Scarlatti - L`OTTAVIA RESTITUITA AL TRONO, opera (1703)

In Naples the 18-year-old Domenico Scarlatti (son of Alessandro Scarlatti) stages his first two operas, L’Ottavia ristituita al trono and Il Giustino, without much success.



German composer Carl Heinrich Graun is born in Wahrenbruck around this time.

Francois Duval (1672-1728) publishes the earliest collection of French violin sonatas in Sonates et autres pieces.

Francois Duval - Livre I (1704), Suite I (Prélude, Fantaisie pour la basse, Sarabande, Gigue)

Francois Duval - Grave Grave aus: Sonate II G Dur

Philipp Heinrich Erlebach completes his Gott geheiligte Sing-Stunde, comprising 12 cantatas for voices and small ensemble.

Philipp Heinrich Erlebach - Kantate: "Siehe, ich verkündige euch große Freude"

23 February
German composer Georg Muffat dies in Passau, aged 50.

24 February
Leading French composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier dies in Paris, aged about 60.

Jeremiah Clarke and William Croft take joint positions as organists of at the Chapel Royal.

3 May
Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, Austrian composer and the 17th century’s foremost violin virtuoso, dies in Salzburg, aged 59.

5 December
Johann Mattheson takes the suicidal part of Mark Antony in his own opera Cleopatra, in Hamburg. On completing the role (in the third act) he exits the stage to replace his good friend George Frideric Handel at the harpsichord, to further demonstrate his manifold talents. Handel refuses to budge and an almighty squabble breaks  

out. Goaded by audience members, the two composers leave the theatre to duel with swords.

Mattheson lunges for the kill, only to see his weapon break on one of Handel’s metal coat buttons.

They immediately end their combat, reconcile and become, in Mattheson’s words, 'better friends than ever’

Johann Mattheson - Cleopatra

Carl Heinrich Graun

(b. Wahrenbriick, 1704; d. Berlin, August 8, 1759)


German composer, considered with Johann Adolf Hasse (1699-1783) the leading exponent of Italian opera seria in Germany during the 18th century. He was educated at the Kreuzschule in Dresden and spent a year at the University of Leipzig. Starting out as a boy chorister, he developed into a capable cellist and keyboard player. His first professional appointment, from 1724, was as tenor at the ducal court in Brunswick, where his duties also included composing. His first operas, composed for the Brunswick court, betray an Italian influence—not surprising for one brought up in Dresden, the center of Italian opera in 18th-century Germany. In 1735 Graun was hired away from Brunswick by the Prussian crown prince Frederick, later to rule as Frederick the Great, whose dream was to establish a court opera in Berlin. Following his ascent to the throne in 1740, Frederick sent Graun to Italy to recruit singers for the venture. Graun was appointed Kapellmeister in 1741 and quickly built a first-rate company, which took its place in a magnificent new opera house on Unter den Linden (now the home of the Deutsche Staatsoper).

During his career, Graun set librettos by Apostolo Zeno, Pietro Metastasio, and Francesco Algarotti, as well as several by his royal employer, including those to Silla (1753) and Montezuma (1755). His work was closely scrutinized by that most musical of mon-archs, which led an earlier generation of scholars to presume that some of his stylistic innovations—particularly the use of cavatinas in place of da capo arias in works such as Semiramide (1754) and Montezuma —were imposed on him by Frederick; that no longer seems to have been the case. In addition to operas, Graun also composed a number of cantatas in the Italian style for solo voice, strings, and continuo; several dozen sinfonias and concertos; and a small amount of chamber music.

Carl Heinrich Graun - "Der Tod Jesu" (Passionsoratorium, 1755)

Carl Heinrich Graun : Harpsichord Concerto in C Minor

Carl Heinrich Graun


Antonio Vivaldi publishes 12 trio sonatas as his Op. 1, in Venice.

Antonio Vivaldi - Twelve Trio Sonatas Op. I:

No.1 in G Minor RV 73 0:01

No.8 in D minor RV 64 7:36

No.5 in F major RV 69 16:22

No.10 in B-flat major RV 78 20:57

No.6 in D major RV 62 27:04

No.12 "Follia" in D minor RV 63 33:20

No.9 in A major RV 75 42:46

No.7 in E-flat major RV 65 49:38

No.3 in C major RV 61 57:42

No.4 in E major RV 64 1:03:47

No.11 in B minor RV 79 1:09:08

No.2 in E minor RV 67 1:16:44

24 January
Carlo Broschi (later the castrato Farinelli is born in Andria, Apulia.

9 April
Jakob Greber’s pastoral Gli amori d’Ergasto (The Loves of Ergasto) inaugurates the Queens Theatre in the Haymarket, London. It is the first Italian-sung opera performed in England.

Georg Philipp Telemann leaves Leipzig to become Kapellmeister to the Count of Promnitz in Sorau, Lower Lusatia.

8 January
George Frideric Handel’s first opera Almira is introduced in Hamburg with great success, achieving 20 repeat performances. His second opera, Nero, staged the following month, survives just three performances.

George Frideric Handel - `ALMIRA`

Johann Sebastian Bach, aged 20, is attacked by one of his students, J. H. Geyersbach, having called the younger man a ‘nanny-goat bassoonist’. Bach draws a dagger to defend himself, while other students intervene to stop the fight. Bach and Geyersbach are admonished in court.

Michael Christian Festing, English composer, born.

5 August
Reinhard Keiser's opera Octavia premieres in Hamburg.

16 January
Thomas Clayton's Arsinoe, Queen of Cyprus, premiered at Londons Drury Lane Theatre, becomes the first full-length, all-sung English opera in the Italian style. Despite its critics, the production runs for two seasons.

Johann Sebastion Bach walks some 260 miles to Lubeck to hear the organ playing of Dietrich Buxtehude, having requested a month’s leave from Arnstadt. To the annoyance of the church council, he does not return for nearly four months.


Farinelli [Broschi, Carlo], (b. Andria, January 24, 1705; d. Bologna, September 16, 1782)

Italian castrato. He grew up in Naples JL and was a student of the composer Nicola Porpora, of whose work he became a devoted interpreter. He made his debut in 1720, as Tirsi in Porpora’s Angelica e Medoro, composed to the first printed libretto by Pietro Metastasio, and rapidly rose to prominence.

After successful residencies in Bologna (1727-34) and London (1734-37), he was whisked off to Madrid by the queen of Spain, Italian-born Elisabetta Farnese, in hopes that his singing would ease the suffering of her chronically depressed husband, Philip V. Farinelli sang for Philip every night until the king’s death in 1746; his role at court eventually came to include service as a counselor of state both to Philip and to his heir, Ferdinand VI.
Expelled from Spain following Ferdinand’s death in 1759, Farinelli retired to his country estate outside Bologna, where he spent the remaining years of his life enjoying visits from the musical and political elite of Europe, and showing off his collection of paintings and musical instruments.

Farinelli’s extraordinary range, power, and agility, together with his highly cultivated musicianship and tasteful improvisation, exerted a major influence on the vocal style of Baroque opera seria. His singing—and, no less important, his artistry and intelligence—made a tremendous impression on all who came into contact with him and won great praise from his fellow musicians.

Michael Christian Festing

Michael Christian Festing (29 November 1705 – 24 July 1752) was an English violinist and composer. His reputation lies mostly on his work as a violin virtuoso.

Michael Christian Festing was born in London to parents John and Elizabeth Festing. 
Festing first studied violin with Richard Jones and then later became a pupil of Francesco Geminiani. He made his professional debut on 6 March 1723 performing a concert at Hickford's Room, London. Not too long after that, Festing met a young Thomas Arne at the gallery of the Italian Opera to which Festing had access although Arne, still a boy, officially did not.  
In the mid-1720s Festing began to compose music, mostly for the violin at the beginning but later works for orchestra, art songs, and a small amount of both sacred music and theatre music followed.
In 1730 Festing published his first composition, Twelve Solos for a Violin and Thorough Bass op. 1, which was dedicated to the Earl of Plymouth. Festing became the director of the orchestra at the Italian opera house in 1737. In 1742 Festing was appointed musical director of the Ranelagh Gardens when they were first opened. While there he composed music for the entertainments in the pleasure garden and lead the band there until his death in London in 1752. 

Michael Christian Festing - Conterto № 1 G minor

Festing: Concerto for 2 Fluts, Strings and Continuo

M. C. Festing: Andante, Allegro, Air and Two Variations

Michael Christian Festing

Sebastiano Ricci – Rape of the Sabine Women

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