Photo: Bernard Gordillo
If you type “Corelli” into YouTube’s search box, you immediately get hits related to a Franco and an Arcangelo with the same last name. Franco Corelli was one of the great tenors of the 20th Century and perhaps of not much interest here.
Arcangelo Corelli was one the most famous violinists and composers of the Baroque Era. His works inspired many of his contemporaries and succeeding generations of musicians and composers, alike.
In fact, some of his music has been continually played since he was alive.
Corelli wrote the kinds of works that were popular in his day—sonatas and concertos. They weren’t just in demand, however, but a necessity (so much that pirated editions were also common). In a 17th/18th-century manner, his works went “viral” as soon as they were published.
He composed no vocal music.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a large amount of music by Corelli (four sets of trio sonatas, a set of violin sonatas, a posthumously published set of concerti grossi, and other smaller works not belonging to any particular set). There isn’t much if you compare it with other composers of similar fame, but it is impressive, nonetheless, for its beauty and quality.
Of the few videos on YouTube that feature live performances, one by Ensemble Laura Soave reflects a sound Corelli might have recognized and one which is consistent with written accounts of orchestras he played in—a sizable string orchestra (multiple violins and violas) that sports a hefty basso continuo section (organ, harpsichord, two theorbos, two cellos, and two violones).
It is impressive, but you may want to experience it for yourself: