Fa­mous com­po­si­tion

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - READER STORY -

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

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