Friday, January 5, 2018

Luigi Boccherini (1743 - 1805)

No. 268 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at

For January, I have planned three montages (two for Friday posts, and one for our first quarterly Tuesday post of the year), and they are all feeding our ongoing “Time Capsules” project for January and February which start a four-month look at the Classical period.

Today’s featured composer is Luigi Boccherini, the Italian classical era composer and cellist known for his courtly and galante style. Boccherini was born in Italy into a musical family. His father, a cellist and double-bass player, sent him to study in Rome at a young age. In 1757 they both went to Vienna, where the court employed them as musicians in the Burgtheater. In 1761 Boccherini went to Madrid, entering in 1770 the employ of Infante Luis Antonio, younger brother of King Charles III of Spain. Later patrons included the French ambassador to Spain, Lucien Bonaparte, as well as King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia, himself an amateur cellist, flautist, and avid supporter of the arts. Boccherini died in Madrid in 1805, survived by two sons. His bloodline continues to this day in Spain.

Boccherini is most widely known for one particular minuet from his String Quintet in E, Op. 11, No. 5 (G 275), which open’s today’s montage. This string quintet is a "cello quintet" in that it is scored for a string quartet (two violins, viola, cello) with a second cello as the fifth instrument. We can imaginbe these as “mini concertos” for cello and string quartet intended for Boccherini himself, as he would occasionally join the performing quartet as a performer himself.

After a more “traditional” piano quintet, I conclude the montage with one of his nine guitar quintets, wholly transcribed from earlier string or piano quintets by the composer.

I think you will love this music too!