Howard Goodall's Story of Music

The Age of Invention

Series 1 - Episode 2 The Age of Invention



Goodall traces the musical discoveries of the 17th and 18th centuries. Of course, he introduces them with a blast on the piano from... Somewhere Only We Know by Keane! This 2004 hit opens with a nice run of chords; back we go to Vivaldi, Purcell and the composers who unlocked the inherently pleasing “circle of fifths”.

Vivaldi was also among those who pushed towards the sound of a full orchestra – the episode’s other heroes are Bach and Handel, adding counterpoint and booming choirs to the concerto in perhaps the greatest leap forward of all. Goodall bashes through the technical stuff clearly and infectiously.


The composer examines the extraordinarily fertile musical period between 1650 and 1750, which saw innovations including the orchestra, the overture, modern tuning, the oratorio and the piano. Vivaldi developed a form of concerto where a charismatic solo violin was pitted against the rest of the orchestra, Bach wrote complex and heartfelt music in his mission to glorify God, and Handel brought all the techniques of the preceding 100 years to his oratorio Messiah. Also on BBC HD at 11pm.