Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713).

Of Corelli's life very little can be said. Born in Fusigiano, near Milan, in 1653, Corelli traveled through France and Germany as a violin virtuoso. In 1682 Corelli returned to Italy and settled in Rome, where he worked for Cardinal Pamphili, and in 1690 to Cardinal Ottobono, composing church and chamber sonatas (violin trios), and concertos. By the time of Correlis death, he had amassed an enormous fortune, an art collection and fame recognized all through Europe, especially due to his "Concerti Grossi" 

His works are divided in two main sets: that of the sonatas, and that of the concerts. The first group is divided in two sets: the "Sonate da Chiesa" (church sonatas) and the "Sonate da Camera" (chamber sonatas) The structure of these sonatas varies, but in general they are composed of a prelude and a fugue section, followed by a succession of dances, just like in french music, except for the church sonatas, that obviously are composed not of dances, but of movements, varying according to the service the sonata is destined for. These compositions are unique in its sort, due to their formal perfection, their inventivity, and their energy. As to the "Concerti Grossi", they are a selection of Corelli's 12 best concertos done by him before his death, and published at his expense in Amsterdam: Corelli composed more than 100, but only these reached the light of our days, as they were the only ones published and that spread all through the European continent. They are an example, like the sonatas, of formal perfection and inventivity in their sort, in the 17th century, and a major example for composers of the first half of the 18th century. The best concerts are numbers 7, 8 and 12. Among these, the concerto number 8 ("Concerto di Natale") combines all the above mentioned characteristics added to the melodic inventivity and pictoric charm.

Not much more can be synthesised about Corelliís work, as not much of it reached our days.


A.Corelli: Concerti Grossi (Andante)


Reccomended recordings:

"Concerti Grossi": The English Concert, Archiv.

"Sonate a tre, Op. 5": Trio Sonnerie, Nigel North, Virgin Veritas.

Manuscrips of a simphony by Corelli