Young woman playing a guitar, Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675)This page aims to be an introductory guide to the topic of Baroque music at the library. The title-underlined links will take you directly to our catalogue. Some featured items are linked via a cover to enable you to read more about the items.



The Baroque period in music is generally taken to be occuring between 1600-1750, or, from Monteverdi to Bach and Handel. But its not a simple time definition. A description of the main characteristics and "flavour of the baroque" can be found in Music of the Baroque (library book), or Baroque Music Now (website).



Oxford Music Online is now free online to Wellington library members. This database is a combination of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed., (2001, 29 vols), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, (1992), plus other titles and is the leading online resource for music research featuring more than 50,000 articles on musicians, composers, musicologists, instruments, genres, terms .... Log in here with your library card.

New @ the library

CD cover from Amazon Love duets by Handel.
Performer Note: Suzie Leblanc, soprano ; Daniel Taylor, countertenor ; Stephen Stubbs, lute, baroque guitar, director ; Arion.
Although he is mostly remembered today for his oratorios, Handel composed over 40 operas. This disc features excerpts from Rinaldo (including an exquisite Lascia ch'io pianga), Giulio Cesare, Tolomeo, Rodelinda, and Serse.
Soprano Suzie LeBlanc is well established as an international artiste specializing in 17th and 18th century repertoire, working with Ensemble Tragicomedia, Purcell Quartet, the Parley of Instruments, Fretwork, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, Musica Antiqua Köln ......

Relaxing Baroque CDs

Amazon book jacket Vivaldi for diverse instruments.

Amazon CD jacket La stravaganza : 12 violin concertos,
by Antonio Vivaldi.

Amazon cd jacket Baroque duet., Performed by Kathleen Battle, & Wynton Marsalis, trumpet.

Amazon book jacket Baroque guitar concerti, by Gerald Garcia.

Amazon cd jacket Art of the Baroque harpsichord,
includes works by Bach, Scarlatti, Handel.

Amazon book jacket The Bells of St. Genevieve and other Baroque delights, , English Chamber Orchestra.

Amazon book jacket Baroque adagios. (2 CDs).
Includes works by Albinoni, Gluck, Tartini, Corelli, Purcell.

Amazon book jacket Simply baroque, performed by Yo-Yo Ma, cellist.

Amazon book jacket Flute concertos, by CPE Bach.

Amazon book jacket Keyboard concertos, nos. 3, 5, 6, 7, by Bach, played by Murray Perahia.

Amazon book jacket Kennedy plays Bach.

Amazon book jacket Baroque inventions, performed by Julian Gray & Ronald Pearl, guitarists.

Books on Baroque

Amazon book jacket Music of the Baroque, by David Schulenberg.
This textbook on European music between 1600 and 1750 discusses the principal musical traditions of the period and analyzes representatives works, placing them within their larger historical context. Among the issues receiving special consideration are performance practice, musical rhetoric, and the role of women as both composers and performers. (Amazon)

Amazon book jacket Baroque music : style and performance : a handbook, by Robert Donington.

Italian Baroque masters : Monteverdi, Frescobaldi, Cavalli, Corelli, A. Scarlatti, Vivaldi, D. Scarlatti, edited by Denis Arnold and others.

North European baroque masters : Schutz, Froberger, Buxtehude, Purcell, Telemann, edited by Joshua Rifkin and others.

Some Baroque DVDs @ Wellington City Libraries.

N.B.: Please note the actual DVD links listed in Amazon are not available for purchase from within NZ. If you are considering purchase you need to obtain versions which are cleared for New Zealand viewing rights.

Amazon DVD jacket Mass in B minor, by Bach. Performed by Ruth Ziesak, soprano ; Anna Larsson, contralto ; Christoph Genz, tenor ; Dietrich Henschel, bass ; Gewandhaus Kammerchor ; Gewandhausorchester Leipzig ; Herbert Blomstedt, conductor.
Contains special feature: Bach and his B minor mass : an introduction by Herbert Blomstedt.
This is a live recording performed at Thomaskirche in Leipzig where Bach actually worked.

Amazon DVD jacket Bach and Vivaldi, Performed by Katia and Marielle Labeque, pianists ; Il Giardino armonico ; Giovanni Antonini, conductor.
Contents: Concerto in C major BWV 1061 / J.S. Bach -- Symphony in G major Wq 182 no. 1 / C.P.E. Bach -- Concerto in D minor "per Pisendel" : RV 242 / Antonio Vivaldi -- Concerto in D minor BWV 1063 ; Concerto in A minor BWV 1065 / J.S. Bach.
One Amazon viewer notes "Check the final Concerto in A Minor with flashing strings perched above four dueling keyboards in ten minutes of the most exquisite Bach you may ever see. "

Amazon DVD jacket Agrippina, Music by Handel ; libretto by Vincenzo Grimani ; adapted by Michael Hampe ; directed for stage by Michael Hampe ; directed for TV by Thomas Olofsson.
Performers : Gunter von Kannen (Claudio) ; Barbara Daniels (Agrippina) ; David Kuebler (Nerone) ; Janice Hall (Poppea) ; Claudio Nicolai (Ottone) ; Ulrich Hielscher (Pallante) ; Eberhard Katz (Narciso) ; Carlos Feller (Lesbo) ; London Baroque Players ; Arnold Ostman, conductor.
While the characters are based on historical figures the plot is comedic rather than epic. Claudio, Emperor of Rome, names Ottone, as his heir, but his wife, Agrippina, hopes to place her own son, Nerone, on the throne.

Amazon CD Handel's Water music : recreating a Royal spectacular.
Documentary film introduced by Peter Ackroyd with historians Phillipa Glanville, and Jeremy Black. This is a documentary rather than a "performance". There is a special feature following the river route as it would have looked in 1717.

Amazon CD The Goldberg variations : from Glenn Gould plays Bach : a film by Bruno Monsaingeon.
Introduction ; Glen Gould in conversation with Bruno Monsaingeon -- Goldberg variations : BWV 988.

Coronation anthems, by Handel.
Filmed at The Dominicanen Church, Zwolle, The Netherlands.
Cast: Holland Boys Choir, Dutch Baroque Collegium with Sir David Willcocks as conductor.

Banquet of the senses : madrigali erotici e spirituali, by Claudio Monteverdi.
Filmed at The Palazzo Te, Manuta, Italy. Duration: 48'09 min.
Cast: Consort of Musicke ; Anthony Rooley director and lute.

Sacred music : Te Deum, Jubilate, Anthems, Funeral music for Queen Mary, by Henry Purcell.
Filmed at Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England.
Duration: 58,30 min.
Cast: Choir of Clare College, Cambridge ; Andrew Manze, Marshall Marcus, violins ; Jan Schlapp, viola ; Jenny Ward-Clarke, bass violin ; Liz Kenny, William Carter, Theorbo, Jonathan Brown, Keri Dexter, organ ; Baroque Brass of London ; Timothy Brown, conductor.

Selected Baroque Website links

  • BaroqueMusic.org
    Overview site.
  • Wikipedia : Baroque composers
    Over 600 are listed with details.
  • Gramophone Editor's Choice
    The editor makes 10 recommendations each month, Baroque music is well represented.
  • Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music
    Is a refereed site for scholarly studies of the musical cultures of the seventeenth century. These include historical and archival studies, performance practice, music theory, aesthetics, dance, and theater. JSCM also publishes critical reviews and summary listings of recently published books, scores, and electronic media.

Some Baroque composers

Johann Sebastian Bach

(1685-1750) German. Very prolific composer, whose output covered short keyboard works, church cantatas, concertos, as well as large scale vocal works although no operas. He was famed as an organ virtuoso, and a master of counterpoint. His works are usually identified by a BWV numbering system, e.g. BWV 1006.

Below you'll find just a sample of what the library holds of Bach's various baroque works.

Instrumental works:

Amazon cd jacket dvd flag The essential Bach. (Various performers)
5 videodiscs (483 min.) : with the Brandenburg Concertos Nos.1-6, Mass in B minor, The Well-Tempered Clavier Part 1, Great Organ Works and Arias & Keyboard Pieces, and Special: 'Bach for Brass'. Although most of this set are available singly, on the whole these are quality performances by such giant artistes as Angela Hewitt, Ton Koopman, or the Freiburger Barockorchester, while the Mass in B minor is filmed in Bach's own church. So it is excellent value to have them brought together into the one compilation.

Amazon cdjacket Per cembalo solo..., by J.S. Bach.
"Keyboard virtuoso Richard Egarr offers inspired readings from among Bach's most familiar works (Italian concerto, Chromatic Fantasia and fugue) and rarely heard transcriptions of Vivaldi, plus his own completion of the unfinished Fugue in C minor, BWV 906." (CD case.)

Amazon cd jacket new flag The cello suites, by Bach, performed by Steven Isserlis.
"For me, the suites are first and foremost just that - dance suites - and should be played as such. However, there is no denying that, as the suites progress, Bach's music frequently transcends the physical sense of the dance....In fact, I have come to think of the suites as "Mystery suites" representing the three kinds of "Sacred Mystery": the Joyful, the Sorrowful and the Glorious". (Steven Isserlis, writing in the CD booklet). Recommended CD.

Amazon cd jacket Well-tempered Klavier, performed by Angela Hewitt. This is a collection of 48 pieces for keyboard, in 2 books, covering all keys. The keyboard score for this work is shelved at 781.4 BAC.

Orchestral works:

Amazon cd jacket Brandenburg concertos. The library has several versions.


DVD cover from Amazon dvd flagThe Mass in B minor, BWV 232 : in the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, by Bach. Performers are : Ruth Ziesak, soprano ; Joyce diDonato, mezzo-soprano ; Daniel Taylor, alto ; Paul Agnew, tenor ; Dietrich Hensel, baritone ; Mairise Notre-Dame de Paris ; Ensemble orchestral de Paris ; John Nelson, conductor. Includes interviews with John Nelson and the Archbishop of Paris, and documentary on music and liturgy at Notre Dame de Paris.

Amazon cd jacket St Matthew Passion, Performers - Christine Schafer, Dorothea Roschmann, sopranos ; Bernarda Fink, Elisabeth von Magnus, contraltos ; Christoph Pregardien, Michael Schade, Markus Schafer, tenors ; Matthias Goerne, Dietrich Henschel, Oliver Widmer, basses ; Wiener Sangerknaben ; Arnold Schoenberg Chor ; Concentus musicus Wien ; Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor.
The vocal score for this work is shelved at 780.6 BAC.

Georg Frederic Handel

(1685-1759) German. Another prolific composer, whose output covered a wide range. Unlike Bach, though, he composed many operas, and "dramatic oratorios", and lived in England for over 30 years, where Queen Anne was a key patron.

Below you'll find just a sample of what the library holds of Handel's various baroque works.


Amazon cd jacket The best of Handel, (Various performers). Contains works such as Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, Concerto in B flat, op. 4 no. 6, Concerto grosso in C : Alexander's Feast, Water music, Serse. Largo, Music for the Royal fireworks.


Amazon cd jacket Messiah. Performers - Dorothea Roschmann, Susan Gritton, sopranos ; Bernarda Fink, contralto ; Charles Daniels, tenor ; Neal Davies, bass ; Gabrieli Consort & Players ; Paul McCreesh, conductor. The vocal score for this work is shelved at 780.6 HAN.

Other Handel scores:

Sonatas for violin and continuo (Henle) (shelved at 781.3 HAN).

Organ concerto, op 4, nos 1-6 (shelved at 782.7 HAN.)

Claudio Monteverdi

(1567-1643) Italian. Bridges the transition from the Renaissance (with his early madrigals) into the Baroque period. His opera Orfeo is generally attributed as the 'first', and for that reason alone is definitely worth a listen, even if it is not. We also learn a lot about Baroque performance as he wrote the opera out twice - once with how the ornamentation should be performed and then without it written in full. Another work worth sampling is his L'Orfeo.

Sample CD:

Amazon jacket Vespers by Monteverdi. (CD) Robert King (Conductor), Peter Harvey (Bass, Performer), Robert Evans (Bass, Performer), Robert MacDonald (Bass, Performer), King's Consort Choir (Vocals). "Having owned and listened to several recommended recordings of this wonderful work over the years, each with its faults, I am delighted to say that this is the definitive recording for me. .... Here that music is so splendidly performed (and recorded, in an ideal acoustic) that all criticism tends to be suspended. Above all this is a supremely enjoyable performance that also happens to sound more convincing than others that what one is hearing is what Monteverdi intended." (Amazon UK customer)

Henry Purcell

(1659-1695) English. If the first opera is attributed to Monteverdi, the first English opera is attributed to Purcell. He also wrote a large number of songs, and chamber music, together with theatre music (often described as 'incidental music') for larger ensembles. As the court composer to Charles II many of his compositions revolved around royal occasions. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Sample CD:

Amazon cd jacket Dido and Aeneas, performed by Lynne Dawson, Rosemary Joshua,sopranos ; Dominique Visse, counter-tenor ; Gerald Finley, baritone ; other soloists ; Clare College Chapel Choir ; Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment ; Rene Jacobs, director.

Guiseppe Domenico Scarlatti

(1685-1757) (Not to be confused with his father Alessandro). Italian. Although he also wrote much vocal music, it is for his keyboard works that he is generally known today. Grove Concise Dictionary of Music biography entry on Scarlatti

Sample CD:

Amazon cd jacket Harpsichord sonatas, Performed by Christophe Rousset.

Antonio Vivaldi

(1678-1757) Italian. Known as the "Red Priest" (because of his hair), he was dismissed from his post as the music teacher at a girl's orphanage for declining to say mass. Although he was a superb violinist, he also wrote successfully for many woodwind instruments, as well as some 60 religious pieces of his total surviving output of over 600 works. His main contribution to music history was to establish the concerto form as an instrumental standard - the soloist contrasted with the full orchestra.

Below you'll find just a sample of what the library holds of Vivaldi's various baroque works.


Amazon cd jacket La pastorella and other concertos. Chandos Baroque Players.
Concerto in G minor, RV 105 for recorder, oboe, violin, bassoon and continuo -- Concerto in D major, RV 95 (La pastorella) for recorder, oboe violin, bassoon and continuo -- Concerto in G minor, RV 107 for recorder, oboe, 2 violins and continuo -- Concerto in C major, RV 87 for recorder, oboe, 2 violins and continuo -- Trio sonata in A minor, RV 86 for recorder, bassoon and continuo -- Concerto in D major, RV 94 for recorder, oboe, violin, bassoon and continuo

Amazon cd jacket 7 flute concertos ; 7 recorder concertos . Janet See, Stephen Schultz (RV 533) flutes (CD 1) ; Marion Verbruggen, recorder (CD 2) ; Daniel Godburn, bassoon (RV 104) Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra ; Nicholas McGegan, director.

Amazon cd jacket L'estro armonico : op. 3. Fabio Biondi, violin, director ; Europa Galante.

Amazon CD jacket Concerto for 2 violins, strings & continuo in A minor, op. 3 no. 8, RV522; Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione, op. 8 nos.1-4 : Le quattro stagioni and other works, , by Vivaldi. Performed by Nigel Kennedy with members of the Berliner Philharmoniker.
IS this better than 'the last'? Either way, it's great listening. (The library has several versions)


Amazon cd jacket Gloria, RV 589, Performers - The Monteverdi Choir ; English Baroque Soloists ; John Eliot Gardiner, conductor.

Sample Vivaldi Score:

Concerto Grosso in B minor - Estro armonico no 10 (Eulenburg) (shelved at 782.77 VIV).

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