Birth: Feb 19, 1743 in Lucca, Italy
Death: May 28, 1805 in Madrid, Spain
Genre: Concerto, Chamber Music, Symphony
Franz Joseph Haydn may be the father of the string quartet, but Luigi Boccherini might be considered one of its uncles. Born on February 19, 1743, Boccherini was the son of a professional musician who was the first double bassist to perform solo concerts. The elder Boccherini started to give his son cello lessons when the boy was five years old. Luigi continued his studies from the age of nine with Abbe Vanucci, music director of the cathedral at San Martino. When the boy made his first public appearance it was conceded that he had already surpassed his teacher's skills. He was sent to Rome, where he trained with G. B. Costanzi, music director of St. Peter's Basilica. After one year in Rome, Luigi and his father were summoned to Vienna, where they were hired by the Imperial Theater Orchestra.
Boccherini's compositions were first published when he was 17 years old. In 1765 Boccherini and his father went to Milan, which at the time was a magnet for talented musicians. It was there that he wrote his first string quartet. In the same year, the ill health that would plague Boccherini all his life began to take its toll. The composer endured a further blow in 1766 when his father died. He formed a new partnership with the violinist Filippo Manfredi; they toured Italy in 1767 and made their way to Paris, where they became a sensation. In Paris Boccherini published a number of notable works, including a set of six string quartets. Following his successes there, Boccherini began writing and publishing prolifically.
In 1769 Boccherini and Manfredi journeyed to Spain, where the composer enjoyed great acclaim. Boccherini then took up another new genre, the string quintet. He in fact became best known for these works, written for string quartet with an additional cello. Now enjoying the benefits of a steady job, Boccherini married in 1771.
Boccherini's wife died of a stroke in 1785. That year his Spanish patron, Archbishop Don Luis, also died, leaving Boccherini without a position. He petitioned King Charles, asking to be retained in some musical position. Charles granted him a pension and assigned him various musical duties. There was an upturn in Boccherini's fortunes in 1786 when he was commissioned as "Composer of Our Chamber" by Friedrich Wilhelm, who was soon to become King of Prussia. Though he wrote most of his new music for Friedrich Wilhelm, Boccherini remained in Spain, where he wrote his only opera, a zarzuela called La clementina.
In 1787 Boccherini remarried. In 1796 he entered into an arrangement with publisher, composer, and piano manufacturer Ignaz Pleyel, who both praised and published Boccherini's works while cheating him of income. In February 1803, Boccherini was reported as living in "distress," but this is as likely from emotional depression as financial hardship, for in 1802 two of his daughters died from an epidemic within a few days of each other. In 1804 both his wife and his only living daughter died. It seems clear that Boccherini, although he continued to compose up to the end, had little interest in living, and died on May 28, 1805 of what was described as "pulmonary suffocation." He was buried in the Church of San Justo in Madrid. In 1927 his remains were disinterred and he was reburied in the Basilica of San Francesco in his hometown of Lucca.
All Music Guide
Born: Feb. 19, 1743, Lucca [Italy]. Died: May 28, 1805, Madrid, Spain
In full Luigi Rodolfo Boccherini Italian composer and cellist who influenced the development of the string quartet as a musical form and who composed the first music for a quintet for strings, as well as a quintet with strings and piano. His approximately 500 works also include sacred music, symphonies, and concerti.
Luigi Rodolfo was the third child of a double-bass player, Leopoldo Boccherini, and Maria Santa Prosperi. At an early age he was put under the care of the musical director of the local cathedral. When he reached the age of 13, he was sent to Rome to study with the renowned cellist Giovanni Battista Costanzi, musical director at St. Peter's Basilica. In Rome Boccherini was influenced by the polyphonic tradition (i.e., music with two or more interweaving melodic parts) stemming from the works of Giovanni da Palestrina and from the instrumental music of Arcangelo Corelli.
In 1757 Boccherini and his father were invited to play in the Imperial Theatre orchestra in Vienna. On his second journey to Vienna (1760), Boccherini, at 17, made his debut as a composer with his Six Trios for Two Violins and Cello, G 77-82. During his third stay in that city (1764), a public concert by Boccherini was enthusiastically received.
In spite of his success, Boccherini grew homesick for Lucca, to which he returned (August 1764), having obtained a permanent position with the local church and theatre orchestras there. He was in Lombardy in 1765, in the orchestra of Giovanni Battista Sammartini. Through his association with this Milanese composer, the 22-year-old Boccherini strengthened the new "conversational" style of the quartet: the cello's line was now as important as the counterpoint (i.e., the intertwining of independent melodic lines) of the violin and viola. Boccherini had a chance to put into practice this conquest with an extraordinary string quartet made up of outstanding Tuscan virtuosos.
After his father's death (1766), he decided to leave Lucca for good. His destination was Paris-a happy choice since France welcomed Italian musicians. In Paris the French publishers Grange, Venier, and Chevardiere published Boccherini's compositions of the previous years (Six String Quartets, G 159-164, and Six Duets for Two Violins, G 56-61, of 1761) as well as the new ones (Six Trios for Two Violins and Cello, G 83-88, and Symphony in D Major, G 500, of 1766 and c. 1766?). Musical Paris competed for the young man from Lucca. From Boccherini's contact with Madame Brillon de Jouy, the harpsichord player, were born the wonderful Six Sonatas for Harpsichord and Violin, G 25-30. Boccherini's style spread throughout Europe, and his Cello Concerto No. 6 in D Major, G 479 (c. 1768?), became the model for W.A. Mozart's Violin Concerto in D Major, K 218 (1775).
Such vital contact and enthusiasm were interrupted when the Spanish ambassador to Paris persuaded Boccherini to move to Madrid. Attracted by this flattering offer, he began his long sojourn at the intrigue-ridden court of Charles III. The king's brother, the infante Don Luis, conferred on him a yearly endowment of 30,000 reals as a cellist and composer. During this period Boccherini wrote his well-known Six String Quartets, G 177-182 (1772).
Madrid became Boccherini's second home. There he married Clementina Pelicho, with whom he had five children. At the infante's death (1785), the king granted him a pension of 12,000 reals. He received another pension from Frederick William II of Prussia, who was an amateur cellist. Lastly, the Duchess of Osuna appointed him conductor of her private orchestra at the Puerta de la Vega Palace in Madrid. To his prodigious instrumental production, Boccherini added vocal compositions: the Stabat Mater, G 532 (1781), the zarzuela La Clementina, G 540 (1786), with libretto by Ramon de la Cruz, and the Christmas Villancicos, G 539 (1783).
Having lost his first wife, Boccherini married Joaquina Porreti (1787). From 1787 to 1797 he was probably in Berlin, at a post provided by Frederick William II. In 1798 the new king of Prussia withdrew Boccherini's pension, the Duchess of Osuna moved to Paris, and Boccherini's financial distress was aggravated by poor health. His life was further saddened by the death of his second wife and two daughters during an epidemic. Thereafter he subsisted for the most part in poverty, which by 1804 had compelled him to live in one room with his three surviving children. His last complete work, the String Quartet No. 90 in F Major, G 248, was composed that year. Shortly thereafter he died.
In 1969 the French scholar Yves Gerard published his Thematic, Bibliographical, and Critical Catalogue of the Works of Luigi Boccherini. Numbers preceded by "G" are the numbers assigned by Gerard according to type of composition, not chronological order.
Boccherini was primarily a composer of chamber music. He produced more than 100 quintets and quartets each, more than 50 trios, and more than 50 chamber works in other forms. The Cello Concerto in B-flat, Boccherini's best-known complete work, was actually arranged from two Boccherini concertos by the 19th-century composer and cellist Friedrich Grutzmacher. Boccherini's well-known minuet is from his String Quintet in E Major, G 275.
As a composer Boccherini has often been compared to Joseph Haydn, usually to his disadvantage. A contemporary, Giovanni Puppo, characterized him as no more than an emasculated Haydn. But their qualities are of different kinds. It is true that his music often lacks Haydn's characteristic forward drive and virility, qualities which derive from a keen sense of form and symphonic development. Thus whereas Haydn's first movements usually centre upon the closely reasoned argument of their development sections, Boccherini's depend on their thematic material and the way in which it is presented and re-presented, and his development sections often lack a firm sense of direction and purpose. Concertante writing was of fundamental importance to Boccherini's music, and he obtained a wide variety of tone colours by writing high viola or cello parts (he was clearly influenced here by his own instrumental facility). His varied treatment of instrumental texture was one of the most characteristic features of his music. Whereas Haydn, with his emphasis on the dramatic nature of sonata form, was in the mainstream of musical development, Boccherini can be said to have represented a backwater. His concern was the production of smooth, elegant music: his favourite expression marks were soave (soft), con grazia (with grace), and dolcissimo (very sweetly). It is in his gentle warmth and superlative elegance-often with a hint of melancholy just below the surface-that Boccherini's most characteristic contribution is found.
Луиджи Родолфо Боккерини
Музыкальное наследие итальянского виолончелиста и композитора Л. Боккерини почти целиком состоит из инструментальных сочинений. В "век оперы", как нередко называют XVIII столетие, он создал лишь несколько музыкально-сценических произведений. Виртуоза-исполнителя влекут к себе музыкальные инструменты и инструментальные ансамбли. Перу композитора принадлежат около 30 симфоний; различные оркестровые произведения; многочисленные скрипичные и виолончельные сонаты; скрипичные, флейтовые и виолончельные концерты; около 400 ансамблевых сочинений (струнные квартеты, квинтеты, секстеты, октеты). Начальное музыкальное образование Боккерини получил под руководством отца, контрабасиста Леопольда Боккерини, и Д. Ваннуччини. Уже в 12 лет юный музыкант вступает на путь профессионального исполнительства: начав с двухлетней службы в капеллах Лукки, он продолжает исполнительскую деятельность солиста-виолончелиста в Риме, а затем вновь в капелле родного города (с 1761). Здесь Боккерини вскоре организует струнный квартет, в который входят известнейшие виртуозы и композиторы того времени (П. Нардини, Ф. Манфреди, Дж. Камбини) и для которого они же на протяжении пяти лет (1762-67) создают немало произведений в жанре квартета. 1768 г. Боккерини встречает в Париже, где с триумфом проходят его выступления и получает европейское признание композиторское дарование музыканта. Но вскоре (с 1769) он перебирается в Мадрид, где до конца своих дней служит придворным композитором, а также получает высокооплачиваемую должность в музыкальной капелле императора Вильгельма Фридриха II - большого ценителя музыки. Постепенно исполнительская деятельность отступает на второй план, освобождая время интенсивной композиторской работе.
Музыка Боккерини ярко эмоциональна, как и сам ее автор. Французский скрипач П. Роде вспоминал: "когда чье-либо исполнение музыки Боккерини не отвечало ни замыслу, ни вкусу Боккерини, композитор не мог больше себя сдерживать; он приходил в волнение, топал ногами, а как-то, потеряв терпение, убежал со всех ног, с криком, что терзают его детище".
За истекшие 2 столетия творения итальянского мастера не потеряли своей свежести, непосредственности воздействия. Сольные и ансамблевые пьесы Боккерини ставят перед исполнителем высокие технические задачи, дают возможность раскрыть богатые выразительные и виртуозные возможности инструмента. Именно поэтому современные исполнители охотно обращаются к творчеству итальянского композитора.
Стиль Боккерини - это не только темперамент, мелодизм, изящество, в которых мы узнаем признаки итальянской музыкальной культуры. Он впитал и черты сентименталистского, чувствительного языка французской комической оперы (П. Монсиньи, А. Гретри), и ярко экспрессивного искусства немецких музыкантов середины столетия: композиторов из Мангейма (Я Стамица, Ф. Рихтера), а также И. Шоберта и знаменитого сына Иоганна Себастьяна Баха - Филиппа Эмануэля Баха. Композитор испытал и влияние крупнейшего оперного композитора XVIII в. - реформатора оперы К. Глюка: не случайно одна из симфоний Боккерини включает широко известную тему танца фурий из 2 акта глюковской оперы "Орфей и Эвридика". Боккерини был одним из зачинателей жанра струнного квинтета и первым, квинтеты которого обрели европейское признание. Их высоко ценили В. А. Моцарт и Л. Бетховен - создатели гениальных произведений в жанре квинтета. И при жизни, и после смерти Боккерини оставался среди наиболее почитаемых музыкантов. А его высочайшее исполнительское искусство оставило неизгладимый след в памяти современников и потомков. Некролог в Лейпцигской газете (1805) сообщал, что он был превосходным виолончелистом, который восхищал своей игрой на этом инструменте благодаря несравненному качеству звука и трогательной выразительности в игре.
- С. Рыцарев