Arcangelo Corelli was born on February 17, 1653, in Fusignano, Italy. Although his father died a month before Arcangelo’s birth, his family was wealthy and he was given the best possible instruction on the violin. When he was twenty-two he moved to Rome and quickly became one of the most successful and sought after violinists in the city. Compared to most other great composers, Arcangelo Corelli wrote very few compositions. However, his impact as a composer, performer, and teacher was enormous. He was perhaps the most important violin teacher of his time. Violinists from all over Europe traveled to study with him and he turned many of those students into extremely successful musicians.
Corelli composed only instrumental music and his success demonstrates the popularity of non-vocal music in the baroque era. He only wrote solo sonatas, trio sonatas, and concertos, and was a pioneer in each of those genres. His works had a very modern sound for their time and established a standard for harmony in Western music. Corelli’s violin pieces were technically demanding and he admitted that the goal of some of his compositions was to show off the skills of the performer. Many great musicians after their deaths fell out of favor with other musicians as well as the general public. Bach and Vivaldi are good examples of baroque composers who were virtually forgotten by the time of their passing. In the case of Corelli, however, his sonatas remained a standard part of the classical repertoire for over 100 years and they are still studied and performed to this day.