16 August 2021
On 25 August 1771, Domenico Corri, and his wife, who was known professionally as La Miniatrice – a reference to her career as a miniature painter – arrived in Edinburgh.
Previously, the couple lived and worked in Rome, where they attracted the attention of several English aristocrats, including music historian Charles Burney.
In September 1770, Burney praised Corri’s musicianship describing him as an ‘ingenious composer’. Likewise, he ‘received the greatest pleasure’ from La Minatrice’s singing. Such high praise reached the ears of the Edinburgh Musical Society; however, they were initially only interested in recruiting La Miniatrice. The couple entered negotiations and by May 1771, the Society agreed to recruit both Corri and La Miniatrice for three years as performers for the society.
The couple never returned to Rome and instead remained in Edinburgh for seventeen years. During that time, they significantly reshaped Edinburgh’s musical scene: Corri became manager of Edinburgh’s Theatre Royal, Comely Garden, New Ranelagh Gardens, a leading pedagogue, and a prominent publisher. His wife was a renowned singer, who, entrepreneur and music publisher George Thomson, said inspired him to produce A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs, to which Haydn, Beethoven, and Weber all contributed one or more arrangements.
The five Corri children were born in Edinburgh, four of whom would go on to have impressive music careers. In 1784, Corri’s brother, Natale, even immigrated to Edinburgh and, building on his brother’s success, established himself as a one of the leading concert organisers. In 1793, he opened Corri’s Rooms, a concert venue situated at the top of Broughton Street, Edinburgh.
From the moment Domenico Corri and La Minatrice arrived, they immersed themselves in the city’s cultural and musical scene and paved the way for the Corri name to be synonymous with musical life in Georgian Edinburgh.
About the author
Brianna Robertson-Kirkland is a Lecturer in Historical Musicology at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and is a research associate for the AHRC-funded project ‘The Edited Collection of Allan Ramsay’. Her forthcoming book Venanzio Rauzzini and the Birth of a New Style in English Singing: Scandalous Lessons considers the influential role of the 18th-century singing master.
Brianna is a co-editor for Allan Ramsay’s Tea-Table Miscellany and she has written for Electric Scotland and blogs for Chawton House, the Romantic National Song Network, and the Ramsay project. She has also delivered a TedTalk and spoken on the BBC Radio 3 show Music Matters. If you would like to know more about her work, please visit her website or tweet her @BreeRob_Kirk.
Image: 'Domenico Corri and his wife' by Unknown Artist (EU0510) © University of Edinburgh Art Collection. Photo taken by Brianna Robertson-Kirkland’.