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William Corbett William Corbett (c. 1675-1748) was one of England’s first and most individual composers of concertos. By profession he was a violinist, and between 1705 and 1711 led the orchestra at the new Queen’s Theatre in the Ilaymarket, London. He was also in demand as a soloist, often receiving top billing at London benefit concerts, and appearing as far afield as Nottingham (1707 and 1709) and York (17(19). Corbett appears to have been something of a ,s/iounian, and his concert programmes and compositions often made a feature of the unusual. In 1699 and 1704-7, for instance, his concerts often included such unfamiliar instruments as the mandolin, archlute and viola d’amore, and in 1724 he advertised a concert on a part un/ar new instrument never heard in England’. Between 1711 arid c. 1740 Corhett lived intermittently in Italy, returning occasionally to publish music and perform in concerts, such as those he organised with a Signora Lody in London until 1715. Although nominally attached to the royal orchestra in London, from 1716 he seems to have settled more permanently in Rome, where he built up an extensive collection of music and violins (some said to have belonged to Corelli and Torelli) and other musical instruments. So impressive was this collection and such was his material well-being, that it was speculated whether Corhett augmented his income acting as as/s’ for the English government, keeping an eye on the Pretender to the English throne (James Stewart, son of the deposed Catholic James II) who had settled in Rome. Whatever the truth of such suspicions, Corbett certainly made money from the sale of some of his music and instruments in London in 1724 and shortly after his return to England in 1741.
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