Early Music History

Research Article

A GENTLEMAN IN EXILE: LIFE AND BACKGROUND OF THE COMPOSER JOHN RAVENSCROFT

Patrizio Barbieria1 c1 and Michael Talbota2 c2

a1 Rome

a2 University of Liverpool

Abstract

John Ravenscroft (1664/5–1697) is today best known for the fact that in 1695 he published a set of church sonatas that closely imitate Corelli in their style. The discourse around Ravenscroft has ever since focused on these twelve sonatas and the significance of their relationship to their illustrious model, to the exclusion of a later set of sonatas of different kind but equal merit. Ravenscroft's fascinating and unusual biography has likewise been totally ignored. The article examines the background of his distinguished, Catholic-leaning family in England during a long, turbulent period when Catholics were severely disadvantaged and his short but productive period spent in Rome, aided by newly discovered archival documents and a rich variety of other sources, both old and more recent, most of which have previously been overlooked by music historians.