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On This Day – January 8

Today we look at one of the early masters of violin writing, an Italian violinist and composer in the Baroque period. Arcangelo Corelli, died on this day in 1713.

Born in 1653 in Fusignano, Romagna, little is known about his early life. We do know he was taught violin by Giovanni Battista Bassani, and composition by Matteo Simonelli, the well-known singer of the pope’s chapel.

At the age of 19 he had his first major success in Paris, and from there he moved to Germany. IN 1681 he was in the service of the electoral prince of Bavaria, and spent considerable time in the house of his friend, Cristiano Farinelli, who was also a violinist-composer.

In 1685, Corelli moved to Rome to lead the festival performances of music for Queen Christina of Sweeden. In 1689, he was in Modena, and in 1708, returned to Rome, living in the palace of Cardinal Ottoboni.

Corelli’s style, preserved by his sudents Francesco Geminiani and Pietro Locatelli, was of vital importance to the development of violin playing. He only used a limited range, rarely proceeding above D on the highest string, sometimes reaching the E.

Nevertheless, his compositions mark an epoch in the history of chamber music. Johann Sebastian Bach studied Corelli’s works, and based an organ fugue on Corelli’s Opus 3.

First we will hear his Ciacona in G major, performed by Musica Antiqua Koln.

Secondly, Seraphina perform Corelli’s Concerto Grosso, Opus 6 No. 8, also known as his Christmas Concerto.

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