Arcangelo Corelli, classical music composer

Arcangelo Corelli image

Arcangelo Corelli


Arcangelo Corelli was born on February 17th, 1653, the fifth child of a prosperous family of landowners. Little is known about his early life but it is likely his initial musical education was with the local clergy. By 1675, and possibly as early as 1671, Corelli had traveled to Rome where he studied composition with Matteo Simonelli, a representative of the polyphonic style handed down from Palestrina. During this time he also travelled to Paris and possibly also to Spain. His first success came in the French capital at the age of nineteen and firmly established his reputation. After Paris, he traveled to Germany, possibly around 1680, where he became acquainted with the German courts, dedicating his opus 5 to the Electress Sophie Charlotte of Brandenburg and his opus 6 to Elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm.

From 1681 onward, he remained in Rome with the exception of only a few trips. He enjoyed the patronage of Queen Christina of Sweden, Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili and Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, and was well-received among the upper echelons of Roman aristocracy. He was active as a performer and frequently led both small and large ensembles in public and private concerts. His reputation as a violinist and teacher equaled, if not surpassed, his reputation as a composer. His music for violin, decidedly un-virtuosic, was largely circulated and was favored as suitable pieces for students and held up as models of composition. During a trip to Naples in 1702 at the invitation of king, he was surprised by the skill of Neapolitan violinists. In another incident involving Georg Frederic Handel, it is popularly said that Corelli refused to play a high altissimo A in the overture to Handel's oratorio The Triumph of Time and Truth, which premiered in Rome in 1708. When the composer, thirty-two years younger than Corelli, played the note, Corelli was both offended and embarrassed. Nevertheless, despite his undemanding violin playing, his style of execution greatly influenced the development of violin technique throughout the 18th century. Compositionally, his music was also influential upon the development of the Italian Baroque. His concertos were written during the period when the implications of tonality were becoming solidified and his style formed the foundation for later Italian composers. Outside the Italian peninsula, Johann Sebastian Bach studied Corelli's compositions and even based one of his organ fugues on Corelli's opus 3 composed in 1689.

Corellli died on January 8th, 1713 and was buried at the Pantheon in Rome. Today, his compositions, particularly his concerti grossi, remain popular and fine examples of the Italian Baroque period.

Composer Title Date Action
Arcangelo Corelli Sonata in C Major, Op. 5 No. 2 10/26/2010 Play Add to playlist
Arcangelo Corelli La Folia (arr. Kreisler) 02/23/2009 Play Add to playlist
Arcangelo Corelli Sonata in C Major, Op. 5, No. 3 02/12/2009 Play Add to playlist
Arcangelo Corelli Trio Sonata in G Major "Ciaccona" Op. 2 No. 12 01/16/2009 Play Add to playlist
Arcangelo Corelli Trio Sonata Op. 1 No. 9 01/15/2009 Play Add to playlist
Arcangelo Corelli Sonata in D Major for Violin & Continuo, Op. 5 No. 1 04/22/2012 Play Add to playlist
Arcangelo Corelli Concerto grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8 (Christmas Concerto) 02/10/2013 Play Add to playlist
Arcangelo Corelli Concerto Grosso op.6, no.4 in D major 02/15/2014 Play Add to playlist
Arcangelo Corelli Concerto grosso Op. 6 No. 4 02/15/2015 Play Add to playlist