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Ex-William Corbett

A violin by Jacob Stainer

Absam, 1670

This spectacular violin was made at the height of Jacob Stainer’s abilities as a craftsman. Built on his most desirable grand pattern with very attractive materials, it is no surprise that it found its way into the collection of renowned violinist and collector William Corbett whose brand it bears... read more

Ex-William Corbett

A violin by Jacob Stainer

Absam, 1670

This spectacular violin was made at the height of Jacob Stainer’s abilities as a craftsman. Built on his most desirable grand pattern with very attractive materials, it is no surprise that it found its way into the collection of renowned violinist and collector William Corbett whose brand it bears on the bottom rib. Currently set up as a baroque violin, its sound is earthy and rich. The clarity of its overtones - which help the sound carry - is one of the reasons why Stainer violins are highly sought after amongst period players.

Corbett came to prominence as a violinist and composer at the end of the 1690s, predominantly working at the theatre in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, where he composed incidental music in 1700 for Betterton’s “Love Betrayed” and various other dramatic works, including a succession of adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. His particular importance as a composer rests largely on his success as an Englishman writing in the most modern Italian styles, and in 1700 he sent his XII Sonate a Tre to Amsterdam to be published as a response to the popular success of Corelli’s sonatas that had been widely disseminated in the preceding decade, forming the backbone of musical taste for the violin throughout Europe. As such, Corbett seems to have been something of a phenomenon, with concerts in the early years of the 18th century where celebrated Italian violinists would play his works, and his own acceptance as one of very few English musicians who were seen on equal terms to his Italian peers both in London and in his later tours in Italy. He was thoroughly integrated into the Italian musical community in London and in 1703 he married Signora Anna Lodi, a tempestuous opera singer from Milan. In 1705, when the Queen’s Theatre was opened in the Haymarket with Italian opera at its heart, he became the leader of the orchestra, and in 1709 Queen Anne appointed him to a place as a Royal Musician, a position that he maintained for the rest of his life despite his frequent and mysterious absences from England.
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