Corelli’s life began on a somber note. His father died just five weeks shy of his birth, leaving his mother bereft. In her grief, she named her son after his father, Arcangelo. He was born on February 17, 1653 in Fusignano, Italy. While he preceded some of the greats by a generation, Arcangelo paved the way for his contemporaries by heavily influencing style for the violin, which at the time was a fairly new instrument. His music was popular during his lifetime, and G.F. Handel paid him a visit to honor him during his tour in Italy.
As a violinist, Corelli was a hit among royalty. In Rome he led a festival performance for Queen Christina of Sweden in 1685, and in 1708 he made a trip to Naples at the invitation of the king. He didn’t just play and compose music, though. Corelli shared his knowledge and skills by teaching others. Some of his students would later reach notoriety as composers themselves. One such student was Antonio Vivaldi. Perhaps you’ve heard of him?
Corelli never married, and little is known about his personal life. He died in Rome at the age of 59, leaving a legacy behind him. While his music may seem calm, it is said that Corelli himself was passionate, and regarded his violin as its own entity when he played, willing it to speak. Corelli also popularized a musical style called Concerto Grosso, a Baroque style which interweaves the melody between a small set of solo instruments and an accompanying orchestra.