Music Arcangelo Corelli
Gregory Barnett
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 October 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 June 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0003


Arcangelo Corelli (b. 1653–d. 1713) composed just six published opuses of instrumental music (trio sonatas, solo sonatas, and concerti grossi), plus a handful of pieces published without opus number or that survive in manuscript. Each genre is divided between works with dance movements (da camera, that is, suited for chamber performance) and those without (not bearing any designation but presumed to be da chiesa, that is, suited for church performance). A native of the town of Fusignano, near Bologna, Corelli pursued his career as a violinist, composer, and ensemble leader in Rome, where he thrived under the patronage of the city’s most avid music supporters: Queen Christina of Sweden, Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili, and Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni. His influence as both composer and virtuoso violinist, however, has been profound. The genres in which he composed were treated as exemplars by his contemporaries, and the style of melodic ornamentation that he applied to his solo violin sonatas furnishes an invaluable example of Baroque-era improvisatory practices. Scholarship on his life, works, and influence includes complete works editions, several book-length studies, and numerous articles.

General Overviews

Marx 2000 and Talbot 2001 are best for readers seeking general introductions to the composer and his music. Each includes a bibliography of sources dating from the composer’s lifetime up to the late 1990s.

  • Marx, Hans Joachim. “Corelli, Arcangelo, Arcangelo del violino, gen. Il Bolognese.” In Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Personenteil 4. 2d ed. Edited by Friedrich Blume, 1574–1598. Kassel, Germany: Bärenreiter, 2000.

    This article benefits from its author’s fruitful researches into the documentary history of Corelli’s life and music. Included are tabular summaries that show Corelli’s musical activities in Rome from the mid-1670s through the first decade of the 18th century. The list of Corelli’s published works contains the printing history of each during the composer’s lifetime, and there are also complete lists of authenticated but unpublished works, of doubtful attributions, of misattributions, of arrangements by other composers, and of his surviving letters.

  • Talbot, Michael. “Corelli, Arcangelo.” Grove Music Online.

    Shorter than Marx 2000, this article is also more accessible because it is divided into five brief sections: (1) Early life, (2) First years in Rome, (3) Later years in Rome, (4) Reputation and influence, and (5) Style. This article is published within a searchable encyclopedia (available by subscription) that features hyperlinks to related articles in Grove Music Online.

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