This arrangement of Corelli’s famous “Christmas Concerto” features soprano cornet, two solo cornets and solo euphonium. Arcangelo Corelli was one of the first masters of the baroque period, a skilled violinist much admired by fellow composers like Bach and Handel. He was born in Fusignano, near Ferrara in Northern Italy in 1653. He studied in nearby Bologna where he became an extremely competent violinist. By the 1670s he was working in Rome and building a reputation as a composer at the important and powerful Papal court. By the late 1600s he was widely famous all over Europe, regularly invited to important courts and palaces. Although he had a huge influence on the virtuoso writing of later composers, his writing for string instruments was designed to be playable by average, often amateur players.
His set of Concerti Grossi known as Opus 6 was not published in his lifetime. We think they were written around 1690, and they were first published in Amsterdam in 1714, a year after Corelli’s death. A ‘Concerto Grosso’ is a concerto for a group of soloists (the “concertino” group) accompanied by an ensemble (the “ripieno” group) and was an important form in the Baroque era. Handel’s very successful examples were modelled on Corelli’s example. Number 8 from the Opus 6 set was commissioned by the Venetian Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni and bears the inscription Fatto per la notte di Natale (‘made for the night of Christmas’). It was used as part of the soundtrack for the 2003 film ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”.