Baroque Period (1600-1750)
During the Baroque period, instrumental music was written for every conceivable size of ensemble. On the smaller side, the Baroque sonata offers one of the finest examples of chamber music. Two types of sonata are found during this period: the sonata da chiesa (church sonata), and the sonata da camera (chamber sonata). The sonata da chiesa was more somber, while the sonata da camera was, much like the suite, usually comprised of dance forms. The gigue from Corelli's Sonata for 2 violins and lute is a fine example of the sonata da camera
The term sonata was used during the Early Baroque to denote musical works to be played instead of sung (cantata). Sonatas were usually played by a small number of instruments, anywhere from three to a small group of maybe six or eight. These groups were called chamber groups because they usually performed in small spaces, typically rooms in aristocratic homes or palaces. This example illustrates a chamber group playing Bach's Air on the G String from the Suite No. 3 in D.
August Wilhelmj (1845-1908) was a German violinist and composer particularly well-known for his arrangements of pieces by great composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Wagner, and Schubert. His piano and violin arrangement of the Air from Bach's Suite known as Air on the G String has been, however, his most enduring achievement.
A popular form among composers was the suite, a series of movements based upon the rhythm and style of a particular dance. The suite could be written for a solo instrument, for example the harpsichord or violoncello, or small instrumental ensemble, and usually included the German Allemande, the French Courante, the Sarabande (originally from Spain), and the English or Irish Gigue (Jig). Many also included the Gavotte, originally a French folk dance characterized by the raising rather than...