Centre for Continuing Education

Exploring Music Course: The Baroque Period

Music. Learn, enjoy, appreciate.

Appreciate and learn about music the smart way with Music courses at the University of Sydney.

The Brandenburg Concertos, Messiah, and the 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. No musical knowledge is necessary.

This course is the first of a series of four one-day music courses that will guide you through the main periods of classical music history. Over four Saturdays throughout the year you we will see the progression of music from the richness of the Baroque, through the elegant simplicity of the classical period, and the passion and drama of the Romantic period to the mysterious beauty of the Impressionist period.

Course Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, it is expected that participants will be able to:

  1. List some of the main composers of the Baroque period
  2. List some music from the Baroque period
  3. Describe some of the musical characteristics of the Baroque period

Course Content

This classical music appreciation course covers the following topics:

  • What is wonderful about Baroque music?
  • Architecture, pearls and tableware: the origins of the term 'Baroque'
  • Social, cultural and historical background: Europe, 1600-1750
  • The art of the Baroque period: we look at art and architecture of the period, and see parallel tastes in art and music
  • Musical genres of the Baroque period: the music of courts and churches
  • Vivaldi, Bach and Handel
  • Musical characteristics: what to listen for, and how to get more out of Baroque music
  • Listening exercise: experiencing the richness of polyphonic texture
  • Authenticity and the Baroque period: early instruments and performance techniques
  • The Baroque suite
  • Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks
  • Bach’s Cello Suite in G Major
  • The Baroque Concerto
  • The Concerto Grosso
  • Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
  • Opera in the Baroque period
  • The Camerata and the birth of Opera
  • Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo
  • The castrati
  • Handel’s Julius Caesar
  • Choral Music in the Baroque period
  • Bach’s Cantatas
  • Handel’s Oratorios
  • Handel’s Messiah
  • Handel’s Zadok the Priest

Course Delivery

This classical music appreciation course in Sydney will be richly illustrated with musical examples, artworks and portraits of the times, video clips, and readings from letters and historical documents. Susan will use the piano to demonstrate musical concepts to the everyday listener. Questions from participants will be encouraged, and there will be room for discussion throughout the course.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion

What others say.

  • The course presenter was very organised and has very wide knowledge of the subject matter. Their presentation was also very good.

  • Enjoyed the course immensely and the topic was well covered.

What others say.

  • The course was exactly as described, and I gained a great depth of understanding of the Baroque period through the tutor's teaching, stories and text.
  • Another excellent course by the tutor. Very enjoyable and interesting.