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Luigi Cherubini

1760 - 1842

Luigi Cherubini (8 or 14 September 1760 – 15 March 1842) was a Classical and pre-Romantic composer from Italy who spent most of his working life in France. His most significant compositions are operas and sacred music. Beethoven regarded Cherubini as the greatest of his contemporaries.

Key Works

Requiem  in Re minore (1836)
Requiem in D minor for male chorus (1836) written for his own funeral

(b. Florence, September 8, 1760 - d. Paris, March 15, 1842)

French composer of Italian birth.
He was a central figure in French musical life from the 1790s undl his death; during the last twenty years of his life, he wielded considerable influence as the administrator of the Paris Conservatoire, France’s most prestigious musical institution. He studied music with his father, a harpsichordist, and later with Giuseppe Sard in Bologna and Milan.


His earliest compositions were mainly sacred pieces; in 1779 he first tried his hand at opera, and quickly became hooked. In a litde less than ten years he penned a dozen Italian operas, most of them in the genre of opera seria. In the summer of 1785 he visited Paris for the first time, securing an introduction to Marie Antoinette from his countryman, the court musician Giovanni Battista Viotti (1755-1824). He soon took up residence in Paris and quickly established himself as one of the French capital’s major musical figures. In 1789, with Viotti’s help, he became music director of an Italian opera company, the Theatre de Monsieur, whose repertoire included the works of Giovanni Paisiello (1740-1816) and Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801) among others; amid the tumult of the Revolution, the company was reconstituted in 1791, and Cherubini signed a long-term contract engaging his services as composer. The result was a string of French-language operas beginning with Lodoiska, premiered in 1791, and culminating in the works that are regarded as his masterpieces, Medee (1797) and Les deux journees (1800). During the Napoleonic years, Cherubini remained an honored figure in spite of his royalist leanings; from the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1814 until the Revolution of 1830, he served as superintendent of the Chapelle Rovale, and in that capacity composed a number of sacred works, including the formidable Requiem in C minor (1816). The most important composition of his final years was a second Requiem, in D minor, completed in 1836 and intended for his own funeral. In 1841, a year before his death, he became the first musician ever designated a commander of the Legion d’Honneur.

Although they have mostly vanished from the stage, Cherubini’s French-language operas were seminal works in the development of Romantic music drama. They effected a stylistic revolution in French opera that paved the way for Parisian grand opera, the most important new genre of the first half of the 19th century. Beethoven regarded Cherubini as the greatest composer among his contemporaries, and was clearly influenced by his innovative approach to form and the colorful scoring of his overtures. The best of these, particularly the leonine overture to Anacreon (1803), are still encountered in the concert hall.

String Quartets

The Complete String Quartets
01 Quartet No. 1 00:01
02 Quartet No. 2 29:23
03 Quartet No. 3 56:28
04 Quartet No. 4 01:37:58
05 Quartet No. 5 02:09:25
06 Quartet No. 6 02:34:07

Born in Florence, Cherubini revealed his musical gifts early; by the age of 18 be had written 35 compositions, including a cantata performed in the cathedral of Florence to honour the future emperor Leopold II. Suitably impressed, Leopold granted funds for the young composer to study in Milan under the leading opera composer Giuseppe Sarti.

Cherubim's first opera, Quinto Fabio, was performed in 1780 but met with little response. He set his sights on London, and wrote La finta principessa in 1 785 and Giulio Sabino in 1786 for the King's Theatre, earning the respect of both the intelligentsia and the English royal circle. While the theatre was in summer recess, he visited Paris, where he was presented to the French queen, Mane Antoinette. He settled in the city and with the librettist Marmontel created his first French opera, Demophon performed in December 1788 without great success.

Over the next few years Cherubini conducted a number of operas for an Italian opera company in Pans started by the queen's hairdresser. He introduced changes to the orchestra and intensified the dramatic action, mirroring the temperament of a society in the throes of revolution. The theatre group broke up in 1792 and Cherubim spent the next year in the Normandy countryside working on Eliza.

Returning to an ever more turbulent Paris, Cherubim was eventually offered a post at the newly established Institut National de Musique, which two years later became the Conservatoire. He wrote several more operas, including in 1797 Medee, based on the myth of Medea, who after rejection by Jason murdered her own children. The main focus of the opera is the psychological torment of Medea, who dominates the stage in a display notable for the huge range, both in pitch and dynamics, of her vocal part.

Cherubim moved to Vienna in 1805, where he received the praise of both Haydn and Beethoven. When Napoleon marched into the city in 1809, to Cherubim's surprise the Emperor requested his return to Pans: Cherubim complied. His Requiem in С minor was later composed at the request of the government to commemorate the anniversary of the execution of Louis XVI. The work was first performed in 181 6 and was much admired by Beethoven, who preferred it to the more famous Requiem by Mozart. It has no soloists but its bare choral writing is lifted by colourful orchestration.

Relations with Napoleon soured, however, when the Emperor found fault with one of Cherubini's compositions. Cherubim's retort - "Your Majesty knows no more about it than I about a battle" -resulted in his losing his official post.

Temporarily abandoning music, he retired to the chateau of the Prince of Chimay, where he studied painting and botany. However, the local church's need for a new Mass tempted him to begin composing again, and the resultant Mass was a resounding success. In 1822 he became director of the revitalized Conservatoire, a post he held for almost 20 years. After 1835. when he composed another Requiem, Cherubim concentrated on teaching, his pupils including Halevy and Auber.
He died in 1842.



Messe de Chimay F major 

Missa Solemnis No 2 D minor


Giulio Sabino: "Ouverture" (00:00)
Lodoïska: "Ouverture" (12:39)
Elisa: "Ouverture" (24:07)
Faniska: "Ouverture" (33:25)
Concert Ouverture (42:18) 

Medea: Montserrat Caballé.
Giasone: José Carreras.
Neris : Elena Obratzsova.
Creonte: Kolos Kovats.
Glauce: María Gallego.
Due ancelle: Rosa María Conesa / Mabel Perelstein.
Un capitano: Miguel Ortega.
Conductor: Antoni Ros-Marbà
Teatro Romano. Mérida. July, 1989

Marche funèbre (1820)

Requiem in do minore


LODOISKA - Comédie héroïque en trois actes de Claude-François Fillette-Loraux

LODOISKA: Mirella Devia
LYSINKA: Francesca Pedaci
FLORESKI: Bernard Lombardo
TITZIKAN: Thomas Moser
VARBEL: Alessandro Corbelli
DOURLISKI: William Shimell
ALTAMORAS: Mario Luperi
TALMA: Danilo Serraiocco
DEUXIEME EMISSAIRE: Ernesto Panariello
PREMIER TARTARE: Renato Cazzaniga

Orchestra e coro del Teatro alla Scala


Symphony in D-major (1815)

Piano Sonatas

Hymne Funèbre sur la mort du Général Hoche (1797)

Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn (1/2)

Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn (2/2)

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres - 
Luigi Cherubini and the Muse of Lyric Poetry.

Horn sonata n.2

Capriccio ou Etude per il fortepiano

In Paradisum (1807)

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