Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli, c.1699-c.1773


Selected Recordings

Aria con Variazioni

Sonata for Violin and B.C. No.7 in A minor

Sonata for violin, parts 9 & 10

Selected Sheet Music

XII Sonate da Camera a Violino

Notes and Commentary

Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli was one of the leading Italian violinist-composers active in London during the era of Handel. Reportedly a pupil of Corelli in Rome, he arrived in London in or before 1719, worked for a decade as leader of the orchestra at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and subsequently became a successful freelance violinist in great public esteem, whose activity extended to at least 1762. Converting to Anglicanism, Carbonelli married in 1730; in 1735 he was naturalized under the name of John Stephen Carbonell.

From the Journal of the House of Lourdes for Feb. 1735:

“Persons sworn, to be naturalized. Henry Wilckens, John Barnard Hoffshleger, Loth Specht, Wolfert Van Hemert, Noah Blisson, Peter Le Maistre, Diederick William Toderhorst, John Stephen Carbonell, and Misael alias Remon Malfalguerat, took the Oaths appointed, in order to their Naturalization.”

From the 1740s, if not earlier, he also operated as a wine merchant, becoming in 1759 an official purveyor of wine to the King [George II]. His descendants continued the wine business highly successfully for several generations. His main patron was John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland, to whom, in 1729, he dedicated his sole surviving music, a privately published set of twelve violin sonatas entitled Sonate da camera a violino e violone o cembalo (1729). Such is the musical quality of these sonatas that their neglect until very recently is hard to explain, but the rather grudging approval accorded to them by the historian Charles Burney (1789) and the lack of any further surviving works by Carbonelli may be the main causes. He lived from 1699 or 1700 to 1773.—Excerpted from Edition HH

According to the Museum of London, a wine bottle during the period in which Carbonella was a wine merchant looked something like this: 1735 wine bottle

Selected Books and Music

Selected Books

The Cambridge Companion to the Violin
Cambridge University Press, 1993
Robin Stowell
$34.19 on Amazon


“A great reference book that helped me gather information I couldn’t find online. Well organized and written, it should be on every violinist’s bookshelf.”—Paula on Amazon

Selected Music

Carbonelli Sonates pour violin & basse continue (2003), 1 CD

Complete Works

1. Violin Sonata No. 10 in G minor: I. Largo
2. Violin Sonata No. 10 in G minor: II. Allegro
3. Violin Sonata No. 10 in G minor: III. Largo
4. Violin Sonata No. 10 in G minor: IV. Giga
5. Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major: I. Adagio
6. Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major: II. Andante
7. Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major: III. Largo
8. Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major: IV. Allegro
9. Violin Sonata No. 12 in B minor: I. Largo
10. Violin Sonata No. 12 in B minor: II. Andante
11. Violin Sonata No. 12 in B minor: III. Aria con variazioni se piace
12. Prelude and Aria
13. Violin Sonata No. 7 in A minor: I. Largo
14. Violin Sonata No. 7 in A minor: II. Andante
15. Violin Sonata No. 7 in A minor: III. Adagio
16. Violin Sonata No. 7 in A minor: IV. Giga
17. Violin Sonata No. 6 in A major: I. Adagio, Allegro, Adagio
18. Violin Sonata No. 6 in A major: II. Allegro
19. Violin Sonata No. 6 in A major: III. Aria con variazioni se piace

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50 Great Composers, 1 Not-so-Great Compilation

Goulding There are so many guides to classical music it’s hard to know which ones have anything different to say. Phil Goulding’s guide, released in 1995, has the virtue of the author not saying much at all. Instead, he lets the talking be done by others—mostly great composers themselves. “I remain a nonexpert,” Goulding says. “Ninety-five percent of [the book] comes from [what I gleaned in] used bookstores, new bookstores, and assorted public libraries.”

There’s certainly a lot of charm in Goulding’s pre-Internet methodology for learning about classical music. (He says he knew nothing about it before starting his project, which took him seven years.) Basically, he culled commentary from the world’s great composers and from musicologists and others and determined his list of the 50 greatest composers of all time based on who the composers themselves and other experts held in high esteem. Review It should come as little surprise that at the top of the list are three names widely considered the titans of music: Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. Indeed, Goulding calls these three the immortals, and says that their place at the top is so secure that it could never be tolerated, by anybody anywhere, that someone should try to demote them.

He then lists eight demigods, all either Classical or Romantic composers with the exception of Handel, and then he lists two additional categories: composers of genius and artists of a high order.

As you can guess from his labels, Goulding is quite the wit, and indeed the introductory part of the book is fun to read. The rest of the book is a fairly standard catalogue of the 50 composers , their principal works, and commentary on where their works fit in the context of musical development over the centuries.

Goulding is trying to cover roughly 500 years of music, so it’s hard to give due attention to everyone who deserves it. But he seems to put too much weight on Romatic-era composers, who comprise 27 of the 50 greats, compared to the Baroque era, the period of eight of the greats. Really?

Of the Baroque greats, you have everyone you would expect to have: Bach, Monetverdi, Couperin, Vivaldi, Telemann, Rameau, Handel, and Gluck (a Baroque-Classical transition figure). But there are so many who are not on the list.

You have to wonder if Goulding gave too much weight to Romantic-era composers simply because he had available to him so much more information on them. Does it really make sense to have Camille Saint Saens, the Romatic-era French organist, on the list while Arcangelo Corelli isn’t? Or what about Modest Mussorgsky, a Russian Romatic composer whose music is noted for—what? Okay, he tried to compose music in opposition to convention. So, his music is rough, dissonant. But is his contribution to music really that much greater than, again, Corelli’s, whose work was pivotal for the violin and for the idea that instrumentals could occupy as important a place as vocal works?

Of course, that’s the problem with any compilation. No one will ever be happy with who’s included and who’s not. For the fan of Baroque music, Goulding’s book just doesn’t offer that much. Bach sits at the top of the heap, at No.1, the first of the three immortals, but when more than half of your top 50 are Romantics, covering about 85 years of your 500-year period, than you have to think your compiler spent too much time in old and new book stores and in libraries reading about composers and not enough time listening to music.—Nabob, On Baroque

Classical Music
The 50 Greatest Composers and Their 1,000 Greatest Works
Ballantine Books, 1995
636 pages
Phil G. Goulding
$15.82 on Amazon

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Arcangelo Corelli: Books and Music

Selected Books

Arcangelo Corelli: New Orpheus of Our Times
Oxford University Press (1999)
Peter Allsop
$189.05 on Amazon
Used copies from $99.95


“Substantial contribution to our knowledge of an important and oddly neglected composer.”—Journal of the American Musicological Society

Corelli: His Life, His Work
Norton, 1968
Marc Pincherle
$4.49 on Amazon

corelli life

Selected Music

concerti grossi Corelli: 12 Concerti Grossi, Op. 6 (1995), 2-CD set

corelli complete Corelli: Complete Works (2005), 10-disc set

trio sonatas Corelli: Trio Sonatas (1990), 1 CD

More Arcangelo Corelli music
More on Corelli
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Arcangelo Corelli: Notes and Commentary

“The increasing importance of instrumental music during the late Baroque period is emphasized most strongly by the fact that Arcangelo Corelli, one of the most eminent composers of this era, wrote nothing at all for the voice. To Corelli, music owes the early development of two of the most significant forms of instrumental music, the sonata and the concerto.”–David EwenThe Complete Book of Classical Music

“No other prominent composer so drastically limited his output to a single medium: string sonatas and concertos. His five books of sonatas constitute a corpus of work that in its consistency of high artistic achievement has few equals.”—Claude Palisca, Baroque Music

Arcangelo Corelli was an Italian violinist and composer of the Baroque era. He lived from 1653 to 1713. For biographical notes, go to Wikipedia.

Excerpted from

Compared to other violinist-composers, Corelli eschewed virtuosity. He was firmly in control of the language of tonality, but not all movements are tonally closed. A traditional distinction between sacred and secular pieces is maintained in each collection in terms of the character of most movements and the scoring, but dance movements may appear in church sonatas and fugal movements in chamber works. There was little precedent in Italian prints for such chamber sonatas as those of Corelli; the precedents are from Germany and England. He published only five volumes during his lifetime.

In the late 17th and 18th centuries Corelli’s reputation as a performer and teacher was at least equal to the reputation he achieved as a composer. Italian and foreign students contributed to the dissemination of his works and his style of playing. His sonatas were widely performed and often reprinted, both as ideal practice material for students and as models for composers. For the solo sonatas (op. 5) there are several extant sets of ornaments, some attributed to the composer himself; his works remained especially popular in England.

The implications of fully systematized tonality were first realized in the concerto compositions of Corelli and his contemporaries. His concerti grossi exploit the contrast of smaller and larger instrumental groups within a movement that had been used previously by others. Corelli’s treatment differs fundamentally from that of his predecessors, for whereas they had merely detached small groups from a main orchestral body from time to time to vary the texture, he opposes a fixed ‘concertino’ string trio of two violins and cello to a ‘ripieno’ string band, each group having its own continuo. He makes little or no difference between the two groups either of material or treatment: the soli tutti contrast is his chief concern.

He was not an innovator in formal organization, usually following the patterns of the earlier Bolognese church and chamber sonatas in the number and order of the movements: thus the Concerti da chiesa, nos. 1-8, have normally five movements (occasionally supplemented by brief linking movements) alternating slow and quick tempi; the Concerti da camera,nos. 9-12, consist of a prelude in contrapuntal style and three dances, with either brief links or contrapuntal movements between the dances. In matters of style, however, his works were of fundamental importance for the subsequent development of Italian baroque music.

His allegros are characterized by rapid changes of harmony underlining the metrical structure, repeated notes, widely ranging themes, more idiomatic violin writing than any previous composer had used, and above all a mechanically progressive rhythm which, in conjunction with the sequential progressions and strictly organized harmonies mentioned above, gives an impression of inevitable development and relentless progress. In contrapuntal adagios he produces an effect of diversity of parts without thickening the texture by continually crossing the lines of the two violin parts, the apparent polyphonic complexity being heightened by chains of suspensions and seventh chords. His fugues achieve a similar effect by frequent entries of the subject in a texture which shifts rapidly from two- to three- or four-part counterpoint.-–

Corelli Books and Music
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