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Arcangelo Corelli

Arcangelo Corelli

(1653 - 1713)

Arcangelo Corelli (February 17, 1653 - January 8, 1713) was a composer, pivotal figure of the Baroque period, and one of the most influential violinists of all time. Born in Fusignano, he studied in nearby Bologna and after 1675 lived in Rome. There, his patrons included Queen Christina of Sweden and, after 1690, the art patron Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni. Corelli was the most widely published and reprinted composer before the Franz Joseph Haydn, he was also the first composer to gain an international reputation solely on the basis of his instrumental music. Many elements of his style became commonplace in the 18th century, and his works are early examples of the newly evolved system of major and minor tonality. As the preeminent violin virtuoso of the day, he taught many leading violinist-composers of the 18th century

He gained success early, traveling throughout France, Germany, and Italy, establishing his reputation as a virtuoso. His legacy is, however, the influence his works, especially the Op. 5 trio sonatas, had on composers such as Francesco Geminiani (sonatas Op. 1, 1716), Pietro Locatelli, Francesco Mária Veracini, Giuseppe Tartini and many others.

Corelli's affect on the development of violin playing, first via his students, such as Geminiani and Locatelli, and then via his legacy on to Italian violinists of succeeding generations, such as Giovanni Battista Viotti and eventually Niccolò Paganini, is hard to overstate. Though he used only a limited palate of instrumental effects, his playing and compositions were marked by extraordinary melodic flow, and accompanying voices are more integrated and follow less strictly the "rules" of counterpoint in favor of musicality.

Corelli composed 48 trio sonatas, 12 violin sonatas and 12 concerti grossi. Six published sets are authentically attributed to Corelli, along with a few unpublished works.

  • Opus 1: 12 trio sonatas da chiesa for 2 violins and continuo (Rome 1681)
  • Opus 2: 12 trio sonatas da camera for 2 violins and continuo (Rome 1685)
  • Opus 3: 12 trio sonatas da chiesa for 2 violins and continuo (Rome 1689)
  • Opus 4: 12 trio sonatas da camera for 2 violins and continuo (Rome 1694)
  • Opus 5: 12 Suonati à violino e violone o cimbalo (6 "da chiesa" and 6 "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 "da chiesa" and 4 "da camera") for concertino of 2 violins and cello, string ripieno and continuo (Amsterdam 1714)
  • Opus posthumous: 6 Sonate à tre WoO 5-10 (Amsterdam 1714)

Recommended Recordings

Core Repertoire - Start Here! Concerti Grossi Op. 6

Harmonia Mundi 3957014
6 Concerti Grossi, Op. 6 #1-6/Harmonia Mundi HMU907014 re-released as 3957014
Nicholas McGegan/Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
6 Concerti Grossi, Op. 6 #7-12/Harmonia Mundi HMU907015
Nicholas McGegan/Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
12 Concerti Grossi, Op. 6/Hungaroton HCD12376/77
Janos Rolla/Liszt Ferenc Chamber Orchestra, Budapest
12 Concerti Grossi, Op. 6/Archiv 423626-2 reissued as DG Double 459451-2
Trevor Pinnock/The English Concert
12 Concerti Grossi, Op. 6/Vox Box CDX5023
Paul Angerer/Southwest German Chamber Orchestra, Pforzheim
Complete Works/Brilliant 92403
Pieter-Jan Belder/Musica Amphion
Opera Omnia (complete works)/Europa Musica 350.202
Carlo Chiarappa/Accademia Bizantina

Sonatas Op. 5

12 Sonatas, Op. 5 #1-12/Harmonia Mundi HMU907298/99
Andrew Manze (violin), Richard Egarr (harpsichord)
12 Sonatas, Op. 5 #1-12/Virgin VCD790840-2
Trio Sonnerie
6 Sonatas, Op. 5 #1-6/Harmonia Mundi HMC901307
Chiara Banchini (violin), Jesper Christensen (harpsichord), Luciano Contini (archlute), Kathy Gohl (cello)

Trio Sonatas Op. 1-4

12 Trio Sonatas, Op. 1 and 12 Trio Sonatas, Op. 3/Harmonia Mundi HMC901344.45
London Baroque
12 Trio Sonatas, Op. 2 and 12 Trio Sonatas, Op. 4/Harmonia Mundi HMC901342.43
London Baroque
12 Trio Sonatas, Op. 3/Smithsonian Collection ND035
Smithsonian Chamber Players