Principal orchestral music of the Baroque era, characterized by contrast between a small group of soloists and a larger orchestra. The small group (concertino) usually consisted of two violins and continuo, the instruments of the older trio sonata, though wind instruments were also used. The larger group (ripieno) generally consisted of strings with continuo. Alessandro Stradella (1642–82) wrote the first known concerto grosso circa 1675. Arcangelo Corelli's set of 12 (circa 1680–90), Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concertos (circa 1720), and George Frideric Handel's Opus 6 concertos (circa 1740) are the most celebrated examples. From 1750 the concerto grosso was eclipsed by the solo concerto.
Learn more about concerto grosso with a free trial on Britannica.com.
The form developed in the late seventeenth century, although the name was not used at first. Alessandro Stradella seems to have written the first music in which two groups of different sizes are combined in the characteristic way. The first major composer to use the term concerto grosso was Arcangelo Corelli. After Corelli's death, a collection of twelve of his concerti grossi was published; not long after, composers such as Francesco Geminiani and Giuseppe Torelli wrote concertos in the style of Corelli. He also had a strong influence on Antonio Vivaldi.
Two distinct forms of the concerto grosso exist: the concerto da chiesa (church concert) and the concerto da camera (chamber concert). (See also Sonata for a discussion about sonatas da camera and da chiesa.) The concerto da chiesa alternated slow and fast movements; the concerto da camera had the character of a suite, being introduced by a prelude and incorporating popular dance forms. These distinctions blurred over time.
Corelli's concertino group was invariably two violins and a cello, with a string section as ripieno group. Both were accompanied by a basso continuo with some combination of harpsichord, organ, lute or theorbo. Handel wrote several collections of concerti grossi, and several of the Brandenburg Concertos by Bach also loosely follow the concerto grosso form.
The concerto grosso form was superseded by the solo concerto and the sinfonia concertante in the late eighteenth century, and new examples of the form did not appear for more than a century. In the twentieth century, the concerto grosso has been used by composers such as Ernest Bloch, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Bohuslav Martinů, Malcolm Williamson, Alfred Schnittke, and Philip Glass. While Edward Elgar may not be considered a modern composer, his romantic Introduction and Allegro strongly resembled the instrumentation set up of a concerto grosso.
Bennett, R. (1995). Investigating Musical Styles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
PEPUSCH: The Beggar's Opera: Overture. Venus and Adonis: Overture1,2. Oboe Concerto G.1 Violin Concerto in A. Concerto Grosso in D for Trumpet.4 Violin Concerto in A. Concerto Grosso in B[musical Flat] for Violin. Cello and Bassoon Concerto in F3
Nov 01, 2012; PEPUSCH The Beggar's Opera: Overture. Venus and Adonis: Overture1,2. Oboe Concerto g.1 Violin Concerto in A. Concerto Grosso in D...
A. SCARLATTI: Sinfonie: No. 4 in e; No. 8 in G; No. 9 in g; No. 12 in c, "La Geniale." ALBINONI Oboe Concerto in d, op. 9/ 2. VIVALDI Recorder Concerto in c, RV 441. TORELLI Concerto grosso in e, op. 8/ 9
Jul 01, 2011; A. SCARLATTI Sinfonie: No. 4 in e; No. 8 in G; No. 9 in g; No. 12 in c, "La Geniale." ALBINONI Oboe Concerto in d, op. 9/2....