(Breton, 1989). The stage had widened further and now had a flyloft with winches and levers to manipulate the scenery. This became the typical Baroque Italian opera house, which was the standard model replicated throughout Europe with little variation for 200 years.

Italy immediately became the center of opera in Europe. In the years between 1637 and the end of the century, 388 operas were produced in Venice alone. Nine new opera houses were opened during this period, and after 1650, never fewer than four were in simultaneous operation (Grout, 1996). These early opera houses served as public gathering places. For the equivalent of about 50 cents, the public could gain entry to the main floor, occupied by standing patrons who talked and moved about during the performances. The high background noise is documented in many complaints in writings of the time. It led to the practice of loudly sounding a cadential chord to alert the audience of an impending aria. In a forerunner of contemporary films, special effects became particularly popular. As the backstage equipment grew more complicated and the effects more extravagant, the noise of the machines threatened to drown out the singing. Composers would compensate by writing instrumental music to mask the background sounds. The popularity of these operas was so great that the better singers were in considerable demand. Pieces were written to emphasize the lead singer's particular ability with the supporting roles de-emphasized.

Baroque Music

The seventeenth century also saw the rise of the aristocracy and with it, conspicuous consumption. Churches and other public buildings became more ornate with applied decorative elements, which came to symbolize the Baroque style. Music began to be incorporated into church services in the form of the oratorio, a sort of religious opera staged without scenery or costumes. In Rome the Italian courts were opulent enough to embrace opera as a true spectacle. Pope Urban VII commissioned the famous Barberini theater based on a design of Bernini, which held 3000 people and opened in 1632 with a religious opera by Landi.

In the Baroque era instrumental music achieved a status equal to vocal music. Musical instruments became highly sophisticated in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and in some cases achieved a degree of perfection in their manufacture that is unmatched today.

The harpsichord and the instruments of the violin family became the basic group for ensemble music. Violins fashioned by craftsmen such as Nicolo Amati (1569-1684), Giuseppi Guarneri (1681-1742) and Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) are still the best instruments ever made. The lute, which was quite popular at the beginning of the period, was rarely used at the end. Early wind instruments had been mainly shawms (later oboes), curtals (later bassoons), crumhorns, bagpipes, fifes and drums, cornets, and trumpets. New instruments were developed, specifically the recorder, the transverse flute, oboe, and bassoon. The hunting horn having a five-and-one-half-foot tube wound into four or five loops before flaring into a bell, was improved in France by reducing the number of loops and enlarging the bell. When it became known in England, it was given the name French horn. By the early 1600s, the pipe organ had developed into an instrument of considerable technical development.

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), now recognized as one of the foremost Baroque composers, first learned violin from his father, who was a violinist at St. Mark's in Venice. He was a priest and later (1709) music director at a school for foundling girls, the Seminario dell'Ospitale della Pieta. His intricate compositions for the violin and other instruments of the time feature highly detailed passages characteristic of what is now known as chamber music, written for small rooms or salons.

Protestant Music

In Protestant northern Europe the spoken word was more important to the religious service than in the Catholic south. The volume of the northern church buildings was reduced to provide greater clarity of speech. The position of the pulpit was centrally placed and galleries were added to the naves and aisles. Many existing churches, including Thomaskirche in Leipzig, were modified by adding hanging drapes and additional seating closer to the pulpit (Forsyth, 1985). Johann S. Bach (1685-1750) was named cantor there in 1722, to the disappointment of the church governors. He was their second choice behind Georg Philip Telleman (1681-1767). Bach was influenced by the low reverberation time of the church, which has been estimated to have been about 1.6 seconds (Bagenal, 1930). His B-Minor Mass and the St. Matthew Passion were both composed for this space.

Bach wrote music for reverberant spaces as well as for intimate rooms. During his early years in Weimar (1703-1717) he composed mostly religious music including some of his most renowned works for organ, the Passacaglia and double Fugue in C minor and the Toccata and Fugue in D minor. His Brandenberg Concertos, composed for the orchestra at the little court of Anhalt-Cothen, were clearly meant to be played in a chamber setting, as were the famous keyboard exercises known as the Well Tempered Clavier, which were written for each of the 24 keys in the system of equal-tempered tuning, completed about the same time.

Baroque music was performed in salons, drawing rooms, and ballrooms, as well as in churches. In general the former were not specifically constructed for music and tended to be small. The orchestras were also on the smallish side, around twenty-five musicians, much like chamber orchestras today. As rooms and audiences grew larger, louder instruments became more popular. The harpsichord gave way to the piano, the viola da gambato the cello, and the viol to the violin. The problem of distributing the sound evenly to the listener was soon recognized, but there were few useful guidelines. In England Thomas Mace published (1676) suggestions for the designer in his Musick's Monument or a Rememberancer of the best practical Musick. He recommended a square room with galleries on all sides surrounding the musicians, much like a theater in the round. Mace advocated piping the sound from the musicians to the rear seats through tubes beneath the floor, a device that was used extensively in the Italian opera houses of the day, and contemporaneously in loud-speaking trumpets, which were employed as both listening and speaking devices (Forsyth, 1985).

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