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Michel Corrette and his organ concertos


Michel Corrette (April 10, 1707–January 21, 1795) was a French organist, composer and author of musical method books.  Corrette was born on April 10, 1707, in Rouen, Normandy, France. His father, Gaspard Corrette, was an organist and composer. Details of his life are sketchy and some authorities suggest he may have been born at a date later than that given and at St. Germain-en-Laye.  His professional life appears to have begun in 1725 with an appointment as organist at the church in Rouen. Soon after that, he moved to Paris, where he married Marie-Catherine Morize on January 8, 1733. Most of what is known about his life is a chronicle of his titles, positions, and publications.  Corrette was named Grand maître des Chevaliers du Pivots in 1734, became organist to the Grand Prior of France in 1737, and served as organist at the Jesuit College in Paris from about 1750 to 1780.  Also in 1750, he received the title Chevalier de l’Ordre de Christ. In 1759 or 1760, he gained the position of organist for the Prince of Conti of the Church of St. Marie-Madeleine.   It is also known that he traveled to England before 1773.

As a composer, Corrette was prolific. He composed operas, ballets, and divertissements for the stage, including Arlequin, Armide, Le Jugement de Midas, Les Âges, Nina, and Persée. His light music with programmatic content for amusement includes titles like The Taking of Jericho, The Seven-League Boots, and — taking advantage of the French enthusiasm for the American Revolution — Echoes of Boston.  He composed many concertos, notably 25 concertos comiques, based on popular tunes of the day and arranged for three melody instruments and continuo.  Other sets of concertos were written on well-known noëls. Aside from these works and organ concertos, he also composed sonatas, songs, instrumental chamber works, harpsichord pieces, cantatas, motets and masses, and other sacred and secular vocal works. He also produced large numbers of arrangements of other music and it is said the music he arranged is much more interesting than the music he composed outright.

Aside from playing the organ and composing music, Corrette organized concerts and taught music. He was a popular teacher with numerous pupils. He wrote nearly twenty music method books for various instruments—the violin, cello, bass, flute, recorder, bassoon, harpsichord, harp, mandolin, voice and more—with titles such as l’Art de se perfectionner sur le violon (The Art of Playing the Violin Perfectly), le Parfait Maître à chanter (The Perfect Mastersinger), and L′école d′Orphée (The School of Orpheus), a violin treatise describing contemporary English music, the differences between the French and Italian styles, and the art of accompanying song at the harpsichord. All include numerous musical exercises or complete compositions, of which many are by composers other than Corrette.  These pedagogical works by Corrette are valuable because they give insight into contemporary playing techniques.  In 1780 he was appointed organist to the Duke of Angoulême and some fifteen years later died in Paris on January 21, 1795, at the age of 87.

My collection includes the following works by Michel Corrette:
Concerto for Organ No. 1 in GM, op. 26, no. 1

Concerto for Organ No. 2 in AM, op. 26, no. 2

Concerto for Organ No. 3 in DM, op. 26, no. 3

Concerto for Organ No. 4 in CM, op. 26, no. 4

Concerto for Organ No. 5 in FM, op. 26, no. 5

Concerto for Organ No. 6 in dm, op. 26, no. 6

Harpsichord and Flute Concerto in dm: Allegro.

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources


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