"What We're Listening To" - Arcangelo Corelli's Christmas Concerto
Arcangelo Corelli was one of the most influential composers of the Baroque period. Born in 1653 in Fusignano, Italy. Corelli was named after his father who died just five weeks before his birth so he was raised by his mother and four older siblings. Corelli first studied in Bologna which at the time was a major center for music. At the age of 17 he was accepted into the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna. He traveled to Paris and Germany before establishing himself in Rome in the 1670s where he remained a prominent musical presence for the next 30 years.
Corelli was equally successful as a violinist, composer and teacher. Among the most famous of his students were Francesco Geminiani and Antonio Vivaldi. Corelli’s success in Rome can be traced through the dedications of his Sonatas to various prominent members of Roman society. Although Corelli’s body of music was not particularly large, his music was honored throughout Europe and marked a highpoint in the history of chamber music.
Corelli is often remembered as “The Founder of Concerto Grosso,” although his 12 concerto grossi were published in 1714 after his death. He did not invent the form but was the first to master it and popularize it. A concerto grosso refers to piece of music in which a small group of soloists pass the melody between themselves and the orchestra or small ensemble. Corelli’s concerto grossi were used as a model by Vivaldi, Handel and Bach to compose their own concerto grossi masterpieces. One of Corelli’s most well know concerto grossi was Concerto Grosso in G minor Op. 6 No. 8, which is more commonly known as The Christmas Concerto. The concerto bears the inscription “Fatto per la notte di Natali” which translates to “Made for the night of Christmas.”