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Francesco Corbetta
Francesco Corbetta by Ignatius Joseph van den Berghe.jpg
Bornca. 1615

Francesco Corbetta (ca. 1615 – 1681, in French also Francisque Corbette) was an Italian guitar virtuoso, teacher and composer. He spent his early career in Italy. He seems to have worked as a teacher in Bologna where the guitarist and composer Giovanni Battista Granata was one of his pupils. He was then attached to the Court of Carlo II, Duke of Mantua in various capacities. He was however frequently granted leave of absence and travelled abroad to Spain probably between 1644-1647 where he amazed the Court in Madrid with his virtuosity; to Germany where he was in the employ of the dukes of Hanover and the Spanish Netherlands, dedicating his fourth book, Varii scherzi di sonate to the governor, the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. According to his obituary the Duke of Mantua recommended him to Louis XIV; although some source claim that he taught Louis the guitar this is unlikely as the post is known to have been held by Bernard Jourdan de La Salle from 1650 when Louis was 12 years of age until 1695. Although Corbetta may have visited Paris earlier he probably did not settle there before 1654. In 1656 he took part in the ballet "La galanterie du temps" by Jean-Baptiste Lully. He came to the attention of the English King Charles II in exile and at the Restoration accompanied him to London. During the last 20 years of his life he divided his time between London and Paris. He is regarded as one of the greatest virtuosos of the Baroque guitar.

Five collections of music for the five-course guitar survive today. At least two others are lost. His first book includes mostly strummed dance music, while his later books exhibit an increasing mastery over the combination of strummed and plucked textures referred to today as "mixed" style. Corbetta's two earliest books include compositions in the Italian tradition, but his three later publications are increasingly in the French style. These publications also included important information for continuo playing on the guitar. A substantial amount of music attributed to him also survives in manuscript.

Corbetta was also influential as a teacher. As well as Granata, the French guitarists Robert de Visée, and Rémy Médard, were probably his students. He was definitely employed as guitar teacher to Princess Anne, later Queen Anne of Great Britain, but there is no evidence that he was employed as guitar teacher to King Louis XIV of France.


  • Scherzi Armonici (Bologna, 1639)
  • Varii Capriccii per la Chitarra Spagnola (Milan, 1643)
  • Varii Scherzi di Sonate per la Chitara Spagnola, Libro Quarto (Brussels, 1648)
  • [Guitarra española y sus diferencias de sones?] After 1656, Place of publication unknown.
  • La Guitarre Royalle, dediée au Roy de la Grande Bretagne (Paris, 1671)
  • La Guitarre Royalle (1674)


  • Wade, Graham, Traditions of the Classical Guitar, London : Calder, 1980.
  • Wade, Graham, A Concise History of the Classic Guitar, Pacific : Mel Bay, 2001.
  • Turnbull, Harvey, The guitar, from the Renaissance to the present day, New York : C. Scribner's Sons, 1974.
  • Pinnell, Richard, The role of Francesco Corbetta in the history of music for the baroque guitar.Dissertation. University of California, 1976.
  • Hall, Monica, Recovering a lost book of guitar music by Corbetta. Article in periodical Consort : journal of the Dolmetsch Foundation, Vol.61, summer, 2005.
  • Hall, Monica, Francesco Corbetta and piracy. Article in periodical Lute News, No. 80, December 2006.
  • Monica Hall, Francesco Corbetta’s missing guitar books. Article in periodical Lute Society of America Quarterly, Vol. XXXXI no. 3, September 2006.
  • Monica Hall and Lex Eisenhardt, Introduction to Guitarra española y sus diferencias de sones. Frankfurt : Deutsche LautenGellschaft, 2006.
  • Hall, Monica, Dissonance in the guitar music of Francesco Corbetta. Article in periodical Lute, vol. 47, 2007.
  • Monica Hall, Francesco Corbetta : a biography. Article in periodical Lute, vol. 53, 2013.
  • Monica Hall, Francesco Corbetta - the best of all
  • Ulrik Gaston Larsen, Baroque guitar performer

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


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