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A concerto (from the Italian: concerto, plural concerti or, often, the anglicised form concertos) as a musical work is a composition usually in three parts or movements, in which (usually) one solo instrument (for instance, a piano or violin) is accompanied by an orchestra. The etymology is uncertain, but the word seems to have origin from the conjunction of the two Latin words concert (meaning to tie, to join, to weave) and certamen (competition, fight): the idea is that the two parts in a concert, the soloist and the orchestra, alternate episodes of opposition and cooperation in the creation of the music flow.

The concerto, as understood in this modern way, arose in the Baroque period side by side with the concerto grosso, which contrasted a small group of instruments with the rest of the orchestra. While the concerto grosso is confined to the Baroque period, the solo concerto has continued as a vital musical force to this day.


Baroque concertos

The concerto was established as a form of composition in the Baroque period. Starting from a form called Concerto grosso introduced by Arcangelo Corelli, it evolved into the form we understand today as performance of a soloist with/against an orchestra.

The main composers of concerti of the baroque were: Tommaso Albinoni, Antonio Vivaldi, Georg Philipp Telemann, Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Pietro Locatelli, Giuseppe Tartini, Francesco Geminiani and Johann Joachim Quantz. The concerto was intended as a composition typical of the Italian style of the time, and all the composers were studying how to compose in the Italian fashion (all'italiana).

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