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Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli

XII Sonate da camera, volume 1
XII Sonate da camera, volume 2

Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli (1699/1700-1773) 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 1740s, if not earlier, he also operated as a wine merchant, becoming in 1759 an official purveyor of wine to the King. Converting to Anglicanism, he married in 1730, and 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 extraordinary 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.

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