Music of the Baroque Period

1 day 9:30 am - 4:30 pm, or 4 weeks x 90 minutes

Baroque architecture

Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, Handel’s Messiah, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons - the Baroque period has given us some of the most dramatic and beautiful compositions of music history. This study day unravels the rich complexity of Baroque music, providing insight into the works of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi and their contemporaries, in their social and historical context. Learn what makes Baroque music sound Baroque, and what the great composers were striving to achieve.

This course part of a series of music history courses, exploring the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Impressionist periods. You may attend the courses in any order.

Course Outline

Session 1

  • What makes Baroque music sound Baroque?
  • Misshapen pearls: the origins of the term ‘Baroque’
  • Social and historical background: Europe, 1600-1750
  • Musical genres of the Baroque period
  • Vivaldi, Bach and Handel

Session 2

  • Compositional techniques: what Baroque composers were trying to achieve, and how they achieved it
  • Musical characteristics: what to listen for, and how to get more out of music of the Baroque period
  • Polyphony, counterpoint, polyphonic listening
  • Bach’s Goldberg Variations
  • Variations on a Ground Bass: Pachelbel’s Canon
  • What is a Fugue?
  • Continuo, figured bass

Session 3

  • The Baroque Suite
  • Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks
  • Bach: Cello Suites and Orchestral Suites
  • The Baroque Concerto
  • Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos
  • Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
  • Handel: The Concerto Grosso

Session 4

  • Choral music and sacred forms
  • Handel’s Messiah
  • Bach's choral music
  • The birth of opera
  • Handel’s Julius Caesar
This course covers the same material as the 1-day version with the same name. Book cover, Music of the Baroque Period

Buy the course notes for this class

In hard copy book form, through Lulu Press
$18 + postage


“Susan’s course was excellent. She has a vast knowledge of her subject and great illustrations, notes for students and musical concepts. I found this course very beneficial and have learned to appreciate this music so much more. Will return for more courses with Susan.”

“Very informative yet presented in a simple way that everyone can understand”

“Very well paced with a very personal presentation. Good use of example music and the power point additions were very helpful and interesting. Enjoyable and informative. Thank you!”

“Susan is an excellent, organised and knowledgeable lecturer. Her ability with the piano assists her lectures.”

“It was absolutely wonderful and very educational, I felt like I did not only attend a lecture, but a couple of concerts as well. Superb!”

About Susan Deas

Susan Deas is a professional musician, lecturer and teacher. She has been teaching music appreciation courses for more than twenty years, through Sydney University's Centre for Continuing Education, WEA Sydney and at other venues. Her training includes a Bachelor of Music with a major in Performance (Piano) and Musicology, a Master of Music Studies (Studio Pedagogy), a Bachelor of Arts (Communications), and an A.Mus.A in Musicianship. Susan teaches piano and music theory to adults and children, and plays piano and organ at various venues around Sydney. Susan is an accredited piano teacher and musicianship teacher, and is on the Council of the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW.

More about Susan’s qualifications

Read what people have said about Susan’s other courses

Susan’s other music courses