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Luigi Boccherini

1743 - 1805

Ridolfo Luigi Boccherini (February 19, 1743 – May 28, 1805) was an Italian classical era composer and cellist whose music retained a courtly and galante style while he matured somewhat apart from the major European musical centers. Boccherini is most widely known for one particular minuet from his String Quintet in E, Op. 11, No. 5 (G 275), and the Cello Concerto in B flat major (G 482). The latter work was long known in the heavily altered version by German cellist and prolific arranger Friedrich Grützmacher, but has recently been restored to its original version. Boccherini composed several guitar quintets, including the "Fandango", which was influenced by Spanish music. His biographer Elisabeth Le Guin noted among Boccherini's musical qualities "an astonishing repetitiveness, an affection for extended passages with fascinating textures but virtually no melodic line, an obsession with soft dynamics, a unique ear for sonority, and an unusually rich palette of introverted and mournful affects."

Complete Cello Sonatas

Cello Sonata in C, G3  
Cello Sonata in C minor, G2     10:47
Cello Sonata in F, G1      20:00
Cello Sonata in A, G4      29:47
Cello Sonata in G, G5     41:50
Cello Sonata in A, G4 bis - I. Allegro Moderato     49:45
Cello Sonata in C minor, G2 bis     54:06
Cello Sonata in C, G6     1:03:13
Cello Sonata in C, G7     1:14:39
Cello Sonata in B flat, G8     1:24:25
Cello Sonata in F, G9     1:36:16
Cello Sonata in E flat, G10     1:47:58
Cello Sonata in E flat, G11     1:56:25
Cello Sonata G12     2:06:29
Cello Sonata G13     2:17:44
Cello Sonata G14     2:27:40
Cello Sonata G15     2:39:31
Cello Sonata G16     2:50:20 
Cello Sonata G17     2:58:46
Cello Sonata G18     3:10:46
Cello Sonata in B flat, G565     3:22:47
Cello Sonata in B flat, G565bis     3:37:07
Cello Sonata in E flat, G566     3:48:11
Cello Sonata in E flat     4:02:12
Cello Sonata in G      4:16:54
Cello Sonata in A      4:26:56

(b. Lucca, February 19, 1743; d. Madrid, May 28, 1805)

He grew up in musical surroundings and became a cellist in the orchestra of the Vienna Court Opera at the age of 14. In 1767, after multiple sojourns in Lucca and Vienna, he set out for Paris, where he quickly established himself and published his first works. The following year he moved again, to Madrid, and in 1770 entered the service of Don Luis, the Spanish infante and younger brother of Charles III. Over the years he enjoyed the patronage of Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia (an amateur cellist) and Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, who served as ambassador to Spain from 1800 to 1801; despite the offer of a position at the Paris Conservatoire, Boccherini remained in Spain the rest of his life.


A prolific composer of symphonies, cello concertos, and chamber music, Boccherini was one of the most important transitional figures between the Baroque and Classical periods, and he continued to compose right up to the dawn of Romanticism. His string quartets (nearly 100) and string quintets (more than 100, nearly all for the combination of two violins, one viola, and two cellos) are his most important legacy, and reveal a composer of marked gentleness and charm who could write with an almost improvisatory freedom of gesture. His cello concertos, of considerable significance to that instrument’s repertoire, are notable for their courtly elegance and understated flair, qualities particularly well displayed in the Concerto No. 10 in D.

Key Works

La Musica Notturna delle Strade di Madrid - Op. 30 n. 6

Quintettino for two violins, viola and two violoncellos in C major (G. 324)

I. Le campane dell'Ave Maria - 0:05
II. Il tamburo dei Soldati - 0:44
III. Minuetto dei Ciechi - 1:20
IV. Il Rosario (Largo assai, allegro, largo come prima) - 3:21
V. Passa Calle (Allegro vivo) - 7:55
VI. Il tamburo - 9:46
VII. Ritirata (Maestoso)

Bocchenni was born in the Italian town of Lucca into a family of talented artists and musicians. His father, a double-bass player, was impressed with his young son's abilities as a cellist. He sent him at the age of 13 to study in Rome with the Maestro di Cappella at St Peter's, and later accompanied him to the Royal Court in Vienna -the first of three visits before Boecherini was 21. In 1764 Boecherini visited the composer and organist Giovanni Battista Sammartini in Milan, and the same year returned to Lucca to play in the Theatre Orchestra. He composed intensively and formed a string quartet, one of whose members was his friend Filippo Manfredi. In 1766 he set off on a concert tour with Manfredi, and visited much of northern Italy before arriving in Fans in 1767. Here an outstandingly favourable reception at the Concert Spintuel gave Boecherini the opportunity to publish quartets, trios, and sonatas for keyboard and violin.

The eighteenth century was the era of technical virtuosity; what Corelli and his followers had done for the violin, Boecherini proceeded to do for the cello, with a series of ten cello concertos that stretched players' abilities to the full. Most of these are thought to have been written before he settled in Madrid in 1769 to concentrate on chamber music. The invitation to visit Spam came from the Spanish ambassador to Pans; Bocchenni soon became a composer at the Spanish court. Here he wrote a large amount of music suitable for court performance, mostly quartets and quintets.

This post was followed by a spell at the court of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, but after Wilhelm's death Bocchenni returned to Spam and from 1800 he organized concerts and composed for Lucien Buonaparte, Napoleon's brother. Boccherini's popularity was such at one stage that his publisher m Paris issued quartets by other composers under Boccherini's name. Nevertheless, Boecherini died in poverty in Madrid in 1805.

Bocchenni wrote 18 symphonies, but his lyrical gifts show themselves most strongly in his 300 chamber works. He composed 93 string quintets, with two cellos in place of the customary cello and double-bass contributing a vibrant and sensuous bass line. Nine guitar quintets also form a part of his chamber output, in which darting accents lend a bright and nervous freshness to music of exceptional clarity. Already endowed with plenty of Italian elegance and brio, the young man discovered in Vienna the beginnings of Romantic passion: the spirit of Sturm und Drang that adds so much drama to middle-period Haydn. His discovery of Spanish dance rhythms and the elaborate guitar music of Andalusia resulted in a distinctive and individual style that won the admiration of Gluck, as well as influencing Mozart and Haydn.

String Quintets, op. 10

Quintets for Flute, Violin, Viola, and 2 Violoncellos

Cello Concertos

Cello Concerto No. 12 in E flat major
Cello Concerto No. 7 in G major, G. 480  - 16:00
Cello Concerto No. 2 in A major, G. 475  -  33:50
Cello Concerto No. 11 in C major, G. 573  -  46:44
Cello Concerto No. 6 in D major, G. 479  - 1:03:27
Cello Concerto No. 9 in B flat major, G. 482   - 1:20:51
Cello Concerto No. 4 in C major, G. 477   -   1:41:26
Cello Concerto No. 3 in D major, G. 476   -   1:58:42
Cello Concerto No. 5 in D major, G. 478   -   2:16:03
Cello Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, G. 474  -  2:33:49
Cello Concerto No. 8 in C major, G. 481  -  2:53:47
Cello Concerto No. 10 in D major, G. 483  -  3:10:03

Sonatas for Harp and Flute

Op. 5 No. 1 - 01 - Allegro (07:27)
 - Sonata in B flat major - Op. 5 No. 1 - 02 - Adagio (04:34)
 - Sonata in B flat major - Op. 5 No. 1 - 03 - Presto (08:20)
- Sonata in D major - Op. 5 No. 2 - 01 - Allegro (09:59)
- Sonata in D major - Op. 5 No. 2 - 02 - Largo (04:12)
- Sonata in D major - Op. 5 No. 2 - 03 - Tempo di minuetto (04:54)
- Sonata in E major - Op. 5 No. 4 - 01 - Andante (08:33)
- Sonata in E major - Op. 5 No. 4 - 02 - Allegro (11:18)
- Sonata in E major - Op. 5 No. 4 - 03 - Rondo a tempo di minuetto (06:10)

Fandango - Goya

Guitar Quintets

Guitar Quintette Nr.1 d-moll G.445
Guitar Quintette Nr.3 B-dur G.447   22:41
Guitar Quintette Nr.5 D-dur G.449   44:45 
Guitar Quintette Nr.6 G-dur G.450   1:04:25
Guitar Quintette Nr.4 D-dur G.448   1:19:59
Guitar Quintette Nr.2 E-dur G.446   1:38:21
Guitar Quintette C-dur G.453   1:57:50

Quintet I in A Major G.265
Quintet II in E Flat Major G.266
Quintet III in C Minor G.267
Quintet IV in C Major G.268
Quintet V in E Flat Major
Quintet VI in D Major G.270

Quintet No. 3 in C Major, G. 439 : I. Allegro vivace

Quintet No. 3 in C Major, G. 439 : II. Cantabile 

Quintet No. 3 in C Major, G. 439 : III. Andante con variazioni 
Quintet No. 2 in G Major, G. 438 : I. Allegro   15:00

Quintet No. 2 in G Major, G. 438 : II. Adagio non tanto 

Quintet No. 2 in G Major, G. 438 : III. Andante con variazioni 
Quintet No. 1 in F Major, G. 437 : I. Allegro    28:51

 Quintet No. 1 in F Major, G. 437 : II. Largo

Quintet No. 1 in F Major, G. 437 : III. Grazioso
Quintet No. 5 in G Major, G. 441 : I. Moderato    41:00

Quintet No. 5 in G Major, G. 441 : II. Adagio

 Quintet No. 5 in G Major, G. 441 : III. Grazioso
Quintet No. 6 in B-flat Major, G. 442 : I. Allegro   53:45

Quintet No. 6 in B-flat Major, G. 442 : II. Adagio 

Quintet No. 6 in B-flat Major, G. 442 : III. Rondeau. Grazioso 

String Quintets with Contrabass (G337-G339 & G223)

Quintet in B flat Op 39.1 G337 
Quintet in F Op 39.2 G338 - 14:12
Quintet in D Op 39.3 G339 - 32:47
Quartet in G major, Op.44.4 G223 ("La Tiranna") - 50:33

Stabat Mater G.532a

I. In loco introduzione - (Quintette No. 4, Op. 10) [00:00]
II. Stabat mater dolorosa - Grave assai [04:57]
III. Cujus animam gementem - Allegro [09:40]
IV. Quae moerebat et dolebat - Allegretto con moto [11:35]
V. Quis est homo? - Adagio assai – Recitativo [14:03]
VI. Pro peccatis suae gentis - Allegretto [15:14]
VII. Eja, mater, fons amoris -  Larghetto non tanto [18:52]
VIII. Tui nati vulnerati - Allegro vivo [24:44]
IX. Virgo virginum praeclara - Andantino [29:01]
X. Fac ut portem Christi mortem -  Larghetto [34:02]
XI. Fac me plagis vulnerari - Allegro commodo [36:32]
XII. Quando corpus morietur - Andante lento [39:00] 


6 Violin Duos op 5 no 1 - 6

Symphonies Nos 3, 8 and 21

Symphony No. 3, G 503
No. 1 of 6 concerti a grande orchestra, Op. 12
in D major - in D-Dur - en ré majeur
1.I Grave - Allegro assai7

2.II Andantino

3.III Minué amoroso - Trio - Minué D.C.

4.IV Presto assai


Symphony No. 8, G 508

No. 6 of 6 concerti a grande orchestra, Op. 12

5.I Allegro assai

6.II Larghetto

7.III Minuetto con molto [sic] - Trio - D.C. il Minuetto

8.IV Grave - Allegro assai

Symphony No. 21, G 515

No. 1 of 4 sinfonie a grande orchestra, Op. 37
in C major - in C-Dur - en ut majeur

9.I Allegro con moto

10.II Menuetto. Con un poco di moto - Trio - D.C. al M.

11.III Andante 

12.IV Allegro vivo assai

Six Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord, Op. 5 (G. 25-30)

I. Sonata No. 1 in B-flat major (G. 25)
00:00 - Allegro con moto
04:30 - Adagio
08:17 - Presto assai

II. Sonata No. 2 in C major (G. 26)
12:09 - Allegro con spirito
17:13 - Largo
21:14 - Tempo di minuetto

III. Sonata No. 3 in B-flat major (G. 27)
25:13 - Moderato
31:19 - Allegro

IV. Sonata No. 4 in D major (G. 28)
37:50 - Andante
43:12 - Allegro assai
49:25 - Rondo. Tempo di minuetto

V. Sonata No. 5 in G minor (G. 29)
54:13 - Allegro molto
58:25 - Cantabile ma con un poco di moto
1:03:06 - Presto assai

VI. Sonata No. 6 in E-flat major (G. 30)
1:06:34 - Maestoso assai
1:11:57 - Rondo

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