For it was on 6 October 1600 that Jacopo Peri's Euridice received its first performance in Florence, held to mark the beginning of the baroque period in music. The period lasted roughly 150 years, JS Bach died in 1750, at which time the first signs of the pre-classical were being heard. The baroque is characterised by its use of counterpoint, tonality and the through or figured bass. Its greatest works still dominate concert halls and CD sales to this day. Its harmonic structures underpin most of today's pop songs. The word itself comes from the Portuguese word barroco, meaning "misshapen pearl", an unflattering description of the ornate and heavily ornamented music and architecture of this period.
The laws of cricket were first pulled together in 1744, in the late Baroque period. Purcell had died in 1695, so his cricket works have uncertain reference to a codified set of laws. This may be confirmed by the fact that his earliest composed anthem is 'Lord who can tell' - obviously to be sung by an umpire struggling without recourse to an agreed set of laws. But Handel was still churning out the hits and in 1744 composed his oratorio Semele which features the celebrated aria 'Where e'er you walk' - a song to encourage honesty in Baroque batsmen - and their successors.
The laws were revised in 1774 when LBW was introduced. This comes as a surprise to FB for the LBW law seems one of the more baroque aspects of cricket. But in 1774 Mozart was 18 and the classical period was in full flow - Mozart composed his Bassoon concerto and 4 important symphonies 27-30 in that year. So LBW is not a baroque decoration.
|Beethoven as a young cricketer|
In 1788 the MCC's first code of laws was published and this remains the basis of today's game. Mozart's last 3, and greatest, symphonies, 39,40 and 41, date from that year too.
So is cricket a product of the baroque or not? The MCC could also be described as baroque in much of its approach to things over the years. But its laws are firmly a product of the classical period. All this history stuff - it's confusing isn't it?