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The Baroque period is divided into three major phases: early, middle, and late. The greatest legacy handed down by the Late Baroque period was its enormous wealth of operas (such as Handel's Serse) and oratorios, (two of the greatest being the St. Matthew Passion by J.S. Bach and Handel's magnificent Messiah). It is perhaps these two oratorios which most typify the sense of opulence and splendor associated with the period. Other major musical contributions of the Late Baroque era were various dance forms, such as the minuet, gigue, courante, allemande, and sarabande. These dances reflected movements that were ornamental, which was another key feature of this particular time in the history of music. The concerto grosso; the key instrumental form of the Late Baroque period, reflected the contrast between two groups of instruments: One was a small body of string soloists, known as the concertino, concertato, or concertante; the other group, known as the ripieno, formed the larger string section. The two groups would either alternate with one another or, at times, play together. Some of the greatest concerti grossi are those by Corelli, J.S. Bach, and Handel. It was from this early concerto form that the later Classical and Romantic concertos developed.
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