When we speak about music, baroque means more than the age of figured bass and stile concertato. Today, as never before, there is a growing awareness that it is also the era of transcriptions and arrangements, which are just as indicative of the face of the age as are any innovations in the sphere of musical composition.
In those far off times, the public’s attitude to their favorite works of art was quite different to what it is today. It would never occur to anyone then to jealously guard from interference — as if it were sacred — each note of a generally recognized masterpiece. If a composition was popular it should be played as often as possible, in different transcriptions and arrangements. No musician would miss the opportunity of re-arranging a work, that had caught the public’s fancy, for different players: for the leading court soloists, for his friends and pupils, or even for musicians who were quite unknown to him — professionals and wealthy amateurs (willing to spend a fair sum of money on the acquisition of sheet music for a piece they liked). And even the duties of court music director or leader of a church choir were inconceivable without the constant re-working of their own pieces — for yet another holiday or some other ceremonial occasion.