2 - The repertory and principal sources  pp. 10-27

The repertory and principal sources

By Robin Stowell

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The adoption of a core period (c.1700–c.1900) for this series of handbooks is intended both to offer optimum accessibility for its prospective readership and to cultivate some consistency of approach and expectation in the specialist case studies that form an integral part of each volume. Such temporal parameters could cause us to undervalue the achievements of numerous seventeenth-century composer-violinists, who did much to develop the violin idiom in a variety of genres, hence the sharper focus on their repertory below. Furthermore, although the six case studies appear to neglect this significant period of the instrument's emancipation and development, the first opus to be featured, Corelli's Op. 5, was probably composed some years earlier than its publication date (1 January 1700). As noted in Chapter 6, this set of sonatas belongs to the genre of accompanied duo with alternative keyboard continuo which became popular in the last quarter of the seventeenth century, and it effectively summarises and codifies the musical, idiomatic and technical achievements of violinist-composers of the period. It ‘laid the foundation for his [Corelli's] fame as the violin master of the seventeenth century — a fame he does not deserve exclusively but must at least share with such masters as Fontana, Neri, Legrenzi, G. M. Bononcini, Stradella, P. Degli Antonii and Torelli’.

The emancipation of the violin

At the beginning of the seventeenth century the violin was rapidly transformed from a provider of popular dance music into a vehicle for the most sophisticated artistic ends.