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Arcangelo Corelli.

Arcangelo Corelli (February 17, 1653 – January 8, 1713) was an Italian violinist and composer of Baroque music.

Contents

Biography

Corelli was born at Fusignano, Romagna, in the current-day province of Ravenna. Little is known about his early life. His master on the violin was Giovanni Battista Bassani. Matteo Simonelli, the well-known singer of the pope’s chapel, taught him composition.

Arcangelo Corelli
Portrait by Jan Frans van Douven

He gained his first major success in Paris at the age of nineteen, and to this he owed his European reputation. From Paris, Corelli went to Germany. In 1681 he was in the service of the electoral prince of Bavaria; between 1680 and 1685 he spent a considerable time in the house of his friend and fellow violinist-composer Cristiano Farinelli (believed to be the uncle of the celebrated castrato Farinelli).

In 1685 Corelli was in Rome, where he led the festival performances of music for Queen Christina of Sweden, and he was also a favorite of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, grandnephew of another Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, who in 1689 became Pope Alexander VIII. From 1689 to 1690 he was in Modena; the Duke of Modena was generous to him. In 1708 he returned to Rome, living in the palace of Cardinal Ottoboni. His visit to Naples, at the invitation of the king, took place in the same year.

The style of execution introduced by Corelli and preserved by his pupils, such as Francesco Geminiani, Pietro Locatelli, and many others, was of vital importance for the development of violin playing. It has been said that the paths of all of the famous violinist-composers of 18th-century Italy led to Arcangelo Corelli who was their "iconic point of reference." (Toussaint Loviko, in the program notes to Italian Violin Concertos, Veritas, 2003)

Arcangelo Corelli.

However, Corelli used only a limited portion of his instrument's capabilities. This may be seen from his writings; the parts for violin very rarely proceed above D on the highest string, sometimes reaching the E in fourth position on the highest string. The story has been told and retold that Corelli refused to play a passage that extended to A in altissimo in the overture to Handel’s oratorio il Trionfo del Tempo e Disinganno (premiered in Rome, 1708), and took serious offense when the composer (32 years his junior) played the note.

Nevertheless, his compositions for the instrument mark an epoch in the history of chamber music. His influence was not confined to his own country. Johann Sebastian Bach studied the works of Corelli and based an organ fugue (BWV 579) on Corelli's Opus 3 of 1689.

Musical society in Rome also owed much to Corelli. He was received in the highest circles of the aristocracy, and for a long time presided at the celebrated Monday concerts in the palace of Cardinal Ottoboni.

Corelli died in possession of a fortune of 120,000 marks and a valuable collection of pictures, the only luxury in which he had indulged. He left both to his benefactor and friend, who generously made over the money to Corelli's relatives. Corelli is buried in the Pantheon at Rome. One can still trace back many generations of violinists from student to teacher to Corelli.

His compositions are distinguished by a beautiful flow of melody and by a mannerly treatment of the accompanying parts, which he is justly said to have liberated from the strict rules of counterpoint.

His concerti grossi have often been popular in Western culture. For example, a portion of the Christmas Concerto, Op.6 No.8, is in the soundtrack of the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. He is also referred to frequently in the novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

Works

Arcangelo Corelli

Corelli composed 48 trio sonatas, 12 violin and continuo sonatas, and 12 Concerti grossi.

Six opuses are authentically ascribed to Corelli, together with a few other works.

  • Opus 1: 12 sonatas da chiesa (trio sonatas for 2 violins and continuo) (Rome 1681)
  • Opus 2: 12 sonatas da camera (trio sonatas for 2 violins and continuo) (Rome 1685)
  • Opus 3: 12 sonatas da chiesa (trio sonatas for 2 violins and continuo) (Rome 1689)
  • Opus 4: 12 sonatas da camera (trio sonatas for 2 violins and continuo) (Rome 1694)
  • Opus 5: 12 Suonati a violino e violone o cimbalo (6 sonatas da chiesa and 6 sonatas da camera for violin and continuo) (Rome 1700) The last sonata is a set of variations on La Folia.
  • Opus 6: 12 concerti grossi (8 concerti da chiesa and 4 concerti da camera for concertino of 2 violins and cello, string ripieno, and continuo) (Amsterdam 1714)
  • op. post.: Sinfonia in D minor, WoO 1
  • op. post.: Sonata a Quattro, WoO 2
  • op. post.: Sonata a Quattro for Trumpet, 2 Violins & B.C, WoO 4
  • op. post.: 6 Sonate a tre, WoO 5–10 (Amsterdam 1714)
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ARCANGELO CORELLI (1653-1713), Italian violin-player and composer, was born on the 12th or 13th of February 1653, at Fusignano near Imola, and died in 1713. Of his life little is known. His master on the violin was Bassani. Matteo Simonelli, the well-known singer of the pope's chapel, taught him composition. His first decided success was gained in Paris at the age of nineteen. To this he owed his European reputation. From Paris Corelli went to Germany. In 1681 he was in the service of the electoral prince of Bavaria; between 1680 and 1685 he spent a considerable time in the house of his friend Farinelli. In 1685 he was certainly in Rome, where he led the festival performances of music for Queen Christine of Sweden and was also a favourite of Cardinal Ottoboni. From 1689 to 1690 he was in Modena, the duke of which city made him handsome presents. In 1708 he went once more to Rome, living in the palace of Cardinal Ottoboni. His visit to Naples, at the invitation of the king, took place in the same year. The style of execution introduced by Corelli and preserved by his pupils, such as Geminiani, Locatelli, and many others, has been of vital importance for the development of violin-playing, but he employed only a limited portion of his instrument's compass, as may be seen by his writings, wherein the parts for the violin never proceed above D on the first string, the highest note in the third position; it is even said that he refused to play, as impossible, a passage which extended to A in altissimo in the overture to Handel's Trionfo del Tempo, and took serious offence when the composer played the note in evidence of its practicability. His compositions for the instrument mark an epoch in the history of chamber music; for his influence was not confined to his own country. Even Sebastian Bach submitted to it. Musical society in Rome owed much to Corelli. He was received in the highest circles of the aristocracy, and arranged and for a long time presided at the celebrated Monday concerts in the palace of Cardinal Ottoboni. Corelli died possessed of a sum of 120,000 marks and a valuable collection of pictures, the only luxury in which he had indulged. He left both to his benefactor and friend, who, however, generously made over the money to Corelli's relations. Corelli's compositions are distinguished by a beautiful flow of melody and by a masterly treatment of the accompanying parts, which he is justly said to have liberated from the strict rules of counterpoint. Six collections of concerti, sonatas and minor pieces for violin, with accompaniment of other instruments, besides several concerted pieces for strings, are authentically ascribed to this composer. The most important of these is the XII. Suonati a violino e violone o cimbalo (Rome, 1700).


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Simple English


Arcangelo Corelli (b.Fusignano, Imola, 17 Feb.1653; d.Rome, 8 Jan.1713) was an Italian violinist and composer. He composed some of the most important Italian music of the Baroque period. He was also very famous as a player. Other violinists learned from his style of playing and developed the art of playing the violin. His works include sonatas and concerti grossi. Perhaps his most famous is the La Folia sonata for Violin.


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