1615 | 1681
Italian guitarist and composer. He was considered by his contemporaries to be the greatest guitar virtuoso of his time. By 1639 he was established as a guitar teacher in Bologna, where he numbered Granata among his pupils. After serving the Duke of Mantua (c1643) and the Archduke of Austria (c1648) he was brought by Cardinal Mazarin to Paris, where he became guitar master to the young Louis XIV. In the early 1660s he followed Charles II to London, where he taught the king and members of the nobility. By 1671 he was back in Paris as guitar master to the dauphin. After a second stay in London, during which he took part in Crowne’s masque Calisto in 1675, he returned to Paris. Corbetta’s works for five-course Baroque guitar comprise five extant collections, and there is evidence that two more books have disappeared. His first book contains mainly dance pieces in the battute (strummed) style. However, the second and third books contain pieces exhibiting greater mastery and sophistication in which battute and pizzicate (plucked) textures are combined. While these first three books are mainly in the Italian tradition, Corbetta’s later (and finest) books, both entitled La guitarre royalle, are firmly in the French style – the result of his residence in France and at the French-influenced English court of Charles II. The first, dedicated to Charles II, contains 14 suites, a large number of miscellaneous pieces, and four pieces arranged for voices, guitar and continuo. The second is dedicated to Louis XIV and contains 39 pieces, the first 12 of which are guitar duets. In these last two books, written for a guitar tuned a/a–d'/d–g/g–b/b–e', Corbetta achieved an ideal balance between the battute element characteristic of the instrument and the more refined textures of contemporary lute music; he produced works that together with those of Visée represent the high point of the Baroque guitar literature in the French style. Like other guitarists of the era Corbetta also cultivated the art of figured bass accompaniment, and three of his books (1643, 1648 and 1671) include instructions for continuo playing on the guitar.