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Musical Tidbit: Corelli the Composer

Concerto Grosso no. 9, arr. Mark Moya
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Born at Fusignano in 1653, Arcangelo Corelli was to become one of the most influential figures of the Baroque era. He is considered a pioneer of violin technique and originated the practice of sychronized bowing in the orchestra. Corelli studied in Bologna during his early years, moving to Rome during the last quarter of the 17th century. There he joined the Arcadian Academy, an exclusive club of sorts that included some of the most celebrated artists and intellectuals of the era, including Alessandro Scarlatti and the mighty Handel. While at Rome, Corelli enjoyed enormous popularity, and his patrons included the queen of Sweden and Cardinal Ottoboni, for whom the famous Christmas Concerto was written. He was a master of the trio sonata, a form employed universally during the Baroque era and developed in the latter part of the 18th century into the Classical symphony. He was well-known throughout Europe for his technical mastery of the violin (some consider him a 17th century Paganini) and organized many large concerts that were widely successful. At one of these concerts, however, he made a host of blunders which hurt his reputation as a violinist somewhat, although his compositions remained the envy of lesser contemporaries for nearly a hundred years. At the time of his death in 1713, he was a very wealthy man and a musical icon. Corelli's influence is potently evident in much of the music of the 18th century, especially so in the works of Handel, one of his greatest students. His popularity remained strong even into the beginning of the 19th century--Thomas Jefferson took a special liking to Corelli's music. With the advent of the early music movement during the 20th century, interest in his work has experienced quite a resurgence, and his music serves as a model for a small but accomplished group of composers just as it did some 250 years ago.

-Mark Moya (August, 2000)