Luigi Boccherini was one of the true masters of Italian music of the Classical period. Born in 1743, he lived for an impressive 62 years and wrote hundreds of pieces of music.
- Boccherini was almost pre-destined to take an interest in music. His family home was often full of performers; his father was a cellist and double bass player, who was delighted to see Boccherini Junior following a similar musical route to his own.
- As well as being a fine composer, Boccherini excelled as a cellist – which explains why he wrote so many concertos for the instrument.
- Boccherini was a rather stubborn man: when employed in a royal court in Madrid, where he worked for the younger brother of Charles II, the King one day expressed his displeasure with a particular trio Boccherini had composed. The king asked him to remove it; provocatively, Boccherini instead doubled its length. Unsurprisingly, he was swiftly shown the door!
- Some scholars are rather unkind about Boccherini’s music: although he composed a very large number of works (30 symphonies, nearly a hundred string quartets, and plenty more besides) they suggest it’s a case of quantity over quality. And soon after his death, Boccherini was dismissed as “Haydn’s wife” – a clear suggestion that he was the inferior composer.
- Boccherini’s music has been used in all sorts of unlikely places, including on the soundtrack to the film Master and Commander: Far Side of the World, which features one of his string quintets.
- In the late 20th-century, the popularization of Boccherini’s music was due in no small part to the Boccherini Quartet, who introduced many audiences to the composer’s string quartets for the very first time.
Did You Know?
For an entire generation of people, Boccherini’s music is best known for its appearance in The Ladykillers. The piece of music in question? The Minuet from the String Quintet in E major, which remains a favourite on Classic FM to this day.
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