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  Concerto (Italian, ‘concert’), in European art music, means a work in which one or more solo instruments perform in such a way as to contrast or blend with the accompanying orchestra. The form was devised in the 17th century, at first for church use and then as vehicles for secular soloists, in particular violinists. At this early stage, the idea of display, common in later concertos (notably the barnstormers of the 19th and 20th centuries) was hardly apparent. The feeling, whether in solo concertos or concerti grossi (‘fat concertos’), for a group of soloists and orchestra, was one of contrast—and this has persisted, quieter concertos being written (and enjoyed by the public) as often as virtuoso showpieces. KMcL  



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