Ray and Diane turned their attention at this point to Emma’s father, the intriguingly named Haydn Corri. He was born in Edinburgh in 1790 and married Covent Garden opera singer Ann Adami in 1814. “They must have been highly accomplished because I’ve found a newspaper record of their 1821 performance for King George IV at the Theatre Royal, Dublin.” Perhaps Ann was the famous opera singer of family legend.
The couple settled in Dublin and in 1825 Haydn was appointed organist at the city’s Metropolitan Cathedral, now called the Pro Cathedral, a post he held for over 30 years. “We were blown away when we found that Haydn played the organ for Pope Pius IX during a visit in 1850,” Ray reveals.
Ray and Diane discovered this wealth of detdetail from Haydn’s obituary, which was carried on the front pages of leading Dublin newspapers. It also revealed the source of his intriguing name. His father, Domenico Corri, was a friend of Joseph Haydn, one of Europe’s most celebrated composers. Haydn was not only named after Joseph, he was also his godson. “This was another breathtaking moment for Diane and I. We never expected to find connections like this in the family.”
Domenico Corri was born in Italy in 1746 and became a composer, performer and instrument maker. He moved to Edinburgh in the 1780s, and composed an opera, (which is now lost), several sonatas and other musical works. “Last year, Diane and I travelled to Vienna and listened to a Mozart concert and we were struck by how similar Domenico Corri’s music was. Readers can listen to one of his sonatas online at soundcloud.com.”
Domenico published The Singer’s Preceptor in 1810, a book on the art of singing, and this became a standard reference for budding opera singers. He also sold music to the royal household so his work would have been performed for George III or the Prince Regent. “Despite all this success, Domenico went bankrupt on three occasions and served time in Newgate Prison. He died in London in 1825.”
Ray and Diane began their search to find out whether a family story was true. They embarked on a 300-year journey redrawing their family tree. As Ray concludes: “We have discovered Italian ancestry, links to a famous comedian and a wealth of musical heritage that we knew little about. One snippet of family gossip has led to a great adventure.”
A portrait of Italian composer Domenico Corri with his wife Sophia Bacchelli
The front cover and music of Domenico Corri’s