Baroque Music for Piano


A collection of pieces from the Baroque Era for solo piano. Easy to Advanced Level

1.   Pachelbel  -  Canon in D


Pachelbel's most famous work, originally for three violins and basso continuo, but since arranged for a wide variety of instruments. It has a hypnotic quality derived from its repeating chordal pattern and the inevitability with which it gathers rhythmic momentum. It often played weddings, providing an atmospheric accompaniment for the arrival of the bridal party.

Pachelbel, Johann




Canon in D


2.   Bach  -  Air on a G String


Originally part of the orchestral suite No 3 and written for Prince Leopold, Bach's employer in the little principality of Anhalt-Cothen between 1717 and 1723, the 'Air on the G string' arrived in its current popular form over 100 year later, when German violinist August Wilhelm arranged the piece for violin and piano to be played on the evocative G-string of the violin. The theme was made famous in the UK through its use in Hamlet cigar advertising. In film and television it has been used to produce an atmosphere of serenity, perhaps most famously in the library scene of the 1995 police thriller "Se7en."

Bach, Johann Sebastian




Air on a G String


3.   Vivaldi  -  'Spring' from the Four Seasons


One of the most famous and well-loved of all baroque works, the four seasons are the first of 12 concerti that make up "Il Cemento Dell'armonia e dell'inventione" ("The Contest of Harmony and Invention"). They were originally written for solo violin and orchestra. The opening movement of the first of the concerto suggests all the joy and expectation of its title, "Spring."

Vivaldi, Antonio




'Spring' from the Four Seasons


4.   Bach  -  Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring


One of Bach's most familiar pieces, "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" is a setting of a chorale from cantata 147 "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben,' written in 1723. A cantata is a Lutheran (the religion of Bach) hymn. Essentially the harmonised hymn, sung to the words "Jesu Joy" ("Jesus bleibet meine Freude"), is accompanied by joyful compound triple time quavers. It is an immensely popular setting, often heard at weddings and other festive occasions, both in its original choral form and in various arrangements.

Bach, Johann Sebastian




Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring


5.   Albinoni  -  Adagio


Perhaps the most well-known piece by a lesser-known composer, Albinoni's melancholic adagio has featured countless times in film and TV, including in Manchester by the Sea, Orson Welles's The Trial, Flashdance and even The Inbetweeners 2. Ironically, it may not have been written by the composer, some claiming it to be a hoax by Italian musicologist Remo Giazotto, who catalogued the composer's works.

Albinoni, Tomaso




Adagio


6.   Handel  -  Water Music


This exhilarating work, also titled "Alla Hornpipe," is taken from the second suite of Handel's celebrated "Water Music." "Water Music" premiered on 17 July 1717 after King George I had requested a concert on the River Thames. The king was so pleased with it that he ordered it to be repeated at least three times, both on the trip upstream to Chelsea and on the return to Whitehall.

Handel, George Frideric




Water Music


7.   Handel  -  Hallelujah from Messiah (Easy Piano)
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The oratorio "Messiah" is Handel's most famous work (approached only by his "Water Music") and remains immensely popular among concert-goers in the English-speaking world. The "Hallelujah Chorus" is the most famous movement of the work and concludes the second of the three parts. Legend has it that on hearing it, King George II was moved to stand up in appreciation. The audience, naturally, followed the King's lead and stood up too. To this day audiences continue to stand in appreciation of this marvellous and exhilarating chorus.

Handel, George Frideric




Hallelujah from Messiah (Easy Piano)
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8.   Britten  -  Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra Theme (Purcells Rondeau)


Henry Purcell's Rondeau is the second movement of a suite of ten written as incidental music for a revival of Aphra Behn's play "Abdelazer" in 1695. It is the best remembered part of the suite, both in its original form and in adaptations—composer Benjamin Britten used it in his "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" (1946), it can be hard in the television series "The First Churchills" (1969) and "Pride and Prejudice" (2005) and was even used, in an arrangement by Andrew Lloyd Webber, as the election music for the British Conservative Party in the 1992 general election.

Britten, Benjamin




Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra Theme (Purcells Rondeau)


9.   Rameau  -  Danse des Sauvages from Les Indes Galantes


The opera "Les Indes Galantes" was something of breakthrough work for composer Jean-Phillipe Rameau, remarkable given that he was already in his forties when he wrote it. Despite the lukewarm reception of its first performance in 1735, it went on to achieve great success in its revised versions and led to a sequence of other dramatic works from the composer. The best-known part of the work is this atavistic dance, which occurs in the final part of the work "Les Sauvages" ("The Savages").

Rameau, Jean-Philippe




Danse des Sauvages from Les Indes Galantes


10.   Bach  -  Prelude No.1 from 48 Preludes and Fugues
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The 48 Preludes and Fugues are two sets of 24 pieces for keyboard. Each set of 24 contains a movement in all 12 major and all 12 minor keys. The first prelude to book one (1720) in C major is a work of sophisticated simplicity—a series of broken chords that gradually take on an air of constricted melancholy before opening-up again as the movement progresses towards its close. Its attractiveness and the accessibility of the writing has made it a popular work amongst keyboard players. It was also famously used by composer Charles Gounod in his setting of the "Ave Maria," for voice and piano (1859).

Bach, Johann Sebastian




Prelude No.1 from 48 Preludes and Fugues
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11.   Scarlatti  -  Sonata in D minor K517


Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757) wrote 555 solo keyboard sonatas during his life, now recognised as some of the most important works in the keyboard literature alongside contemporaries such as J.S. Bach. The Sonata in D Minor, K517, is a work of propulsive drama, one which requires a strong left hand and metronomic steadiness of tempo.

Scarlatti, Domenico




Sonata in D minor K517


12.   Scarlatti  -  Siciliano


Sicilian-born composer Alessandro Scarlatti established the form of the "aria siciliana" in his operas, a tradition inherited by his son, also a composer, Dominico Scarlatti. This delightful piece is a good example of the idiom, being in compound duple time and with a cheerful pastoral quality.

Scarlatti, Domenico




Siciliano











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