Francesco Corbetta – the Best of All


In the introduction to his “Instruccion de musica” printed in 1674 Gaspar Sanz refers to Corbetta as “el mejor de todo” – “the best of all” and clearly his contemporaries regarded him as such.  Although his music is perhaps less popular today than that of Sanz or Santiago de Murcia he is undoubtedly the most significant and prolific composer for the 5-course baroque guitar of the seventeenth century.

The only full length study of Corbetta is Richard Pinnell’s doctoral dissertation “The role of Francesco Corbetta (1615-1681) in the history of music for the baroque guitar” completed in 1976 and subsequently published by UMI Research Press ca. 1980  with the title “Francesco Corbetta and the baroque guitar with a transcription of his works”.   This covers a lot ground in a general way but is now very out of date.

This study is an attempt to give a more  focused account of Corbetta’s  life and work.   The main part of it comprises English translations of the introductions to his books with detailed commentaries on the wealth of information which these include.  It also includes a study of music attributed to him in contemporary manuscript sources.

It is divided into the following sections –

Corbetta Section I 2020 p.1-161Revised

Corbetta Section II 2020 p.162-282

Corbetta Section III 2020 p.283-342

Corbetta Section IV 2020 p.343-368

Addenda October 2021

The following are tablature editions of pieces attributed to Corbetta in the Gallot manuscript, Gb-Ob Ms. Mus. Sch. C94, 1660, and the manuscript copied by Jean- Baptiste de Castillion B-Lc Ms. 245 ca. 1706.

Gallot Edition

Corbetta Liege Edition