Asociación Luigi Boccherini
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(Brief Biography, revised and updated in July, 2013)


  • LIVING WITH DEATH (1801-1805)

  • Birthplace of the musician in Lucca

    FIRST MUSICAL STEPS AT HOME (1743-1753)     Return to Index

    The Boccherinis lived from music, as Leopoldo, head of the family, was a double bass player and received commissions and employment from the authorities of the City-State of Lucca, in the frequent celebrations, concerts, and festivities organised or sponsored by the Capella Palatina del Comune. As the family size kept increasing, his earnings kept comparably diminishing, so that their living situation, although not quite poverty, faced certain deficiencies.

    Indeed, the marriage of Leopoldo Boccherini and Maria Santa Prosperi came to bear six children in just nine years, between 1740 and 1748. The third of those children was to become one of the greatest composers of all times. Born on 19 February 1743 he was baptised with the names Luigi Ridolfo.

    His two elder siblings (with the exception of the firstborn who died before reaching the age of 3) also reached a professional status as artists, but in different disciplines. Maria Ester, born in 1740, was to become a renowned ballerina, and Giovanni Gastone (1742), played a not insignificant role as an opera librettist, in addition to various other temporary occupations he held which he soon abandoned though due to his unstable character.

    Leopoldo Boccherini’s children learned at home the art of music making, but the one with a greatest inclination was Luigi, showing both his ability on the violin as well as the violoncello, which prompted his parents to realize that he would soon have to leave the family environment in order to receive more advanced training from a skilled teacher.

    Thus, without ever having left Lucca, Luigi went to receive lessons with Domenico Vannuci, a clergyman from San Martino, who likewise not much later, announced to Leopoldo that his son was going to require the training of a more experienced master, because the rhythm with which the young Boccherini was advancing, was beyond the knowledge and technique he could offer.

    Leopoldo decided then to send his son to a place much more suitable for advanced studies, which was no other than the city of Rome. There, under the guidance of the famous cellist Giovanni Battista Constanzi, he remained several months perfecting his technique until, whilst still only a teenager, he achieved full maturity as a performer.

    THE BEGINNING OF MATURITY (1753-1767)     Return to Index

    Satisfied with the mastery of his son Luigi, Leopoldo accepted the commission of playing with him before the court and public of Vienna, by undertaking a first tour through the Austrian Empire, accompanied also by the two elder siblings, Maria Ester and Giovanni Gastone.

    Each in his own area of expertise, the four members of the Boccherini family obtained the favours of their Imperial hosts for whom they performed. Luigi in particular received the praises of the opera composer Christoph Willibald Gluck who eulogised the style and the future that was foreseen in the first work that Boccherini would publish with the Opus number 1, his Six trios for two violins and violoncello.

    From those very first pieces on, Luigi would begin to minutely compile a catalogue of his works, which would reach the Opus number 64. But this number is misleading, in the first place because the majority of his opus numbers contain 6 pieces, and also because Boccherini did not record in his catalogue several of his works. So, it turns out that this catalogue contains slightly less than half of Boccherini’s production, i.e. a total that slightly exceeds 300 pieces, whereas the complete compositions that Boccherini wrote reached far beyond 500. .

    Boccherini as an adult [Print of an anonymous engraving]

    But why did the master decide to record certain works and exclude other? Perhaps, he never included in this personal catalogue certain pieces which he did not intend to publish, or which he intended just for his own personal use, or which he considered early works without particular value to him. In any case, the reasons for this drastic distinction between his compositions are not clear. The only clue we have is a phrase, more enigmatic than explicit, which casts a shadow over the question. On the opening page after the cover of his Catalogue he wrote the following footnote:

    ‘It does not include the vocal, nor the solo concertos and sonatas that the author wrote for various instruments, especially for the violoncello’

    The Austrian tours with his father and siblings were repeated over several years, always returning to his residence in Lucca in order to fulfil his professional commitments, as Luigi had also entered the service of the Comune (Municipality) as a violoncellist. This did not prevent him to embark himself on trips and tours of a lesser scale within the Italian peninsula, showing his performing capabilities both in works by other composers, as well as in pieces of his own.

    Also at a local level, the young Boccherini obtained special commissions from the authorities of the Comune, on the occasions of various events and social and political festivities, particularly within the feast called ‘delle Tasche’, linked to the election of members of the City-State authorities. The name originated from the method of election, consisting of the random extraction of balls that were placed previously in a Bag (Tasca) bearing the names of the candidates.

    During this city celebration, it was customary to hold a feast which included music, various stage performances, and different events to enhance the nomination of new administrators. In 1765, Luigi Boccherini was commissioned to present a cantata based on the relationship between the Princess of the Sabini, called Ersilia, with Rómulo, the King of Rome. The libretto resulted from the collaboration between Pier Angelo Trenta and Francesco Ubaldo and was entitled La Confederazione dei Sabini con Roma. Perhaps because of the fame achieved by the brilliant composer it was considered appropriate during this time that a painter would capture the portrait of the violoncellist playing his instrument. For a long time this painting was attributed to an artist also from Lucca, Pompeo Batoni, although, recently, its authorship has been called into question.

    Boccherini as violoncellist (ca.1765). [National Gallery, Melbourne, Australia]

    Throughout the years 1764 to 1767, the young composer served his city with various sacred and stage pieces, amongst others 3 oratorios, 3 masses and 2 psalms, genres in which Boccherini was always very sparse, counting very few compositions, with the exception of the two versions of the Stabat Mater (of 1781 and 1800 respectively), a Missa Solemnis (of 1800, now lost), a Christmas Cantata (of 1802, also lost), and a Villancico or profane oratorio (1783). At a much later date, he would use some overtures of these cantatas and oratorios as separate symphonies.

    TRAGEDY: FAIRWELL TO LUCCA (1767-1768)     Return to Index

    But the year of 1767 was dramatic for the entire family, as death claimed the life of Leopoldo, filling the house of the Boccherinis with sadness. For Luigi, the loss of his father signified a radical change in his life. From this moment, as if willed to escape from tragedy, he began touring in the north of Italy, accompanied by his friends, the violinists Pietro Nardini, Philippo Manfredi and Giuseppe Cambini.

    These four performers formed the Cuarteto Toscano, which may be considered as the first quartet formation in history, since despite having three violinists and one violoncellist, Cambini agreed to play the viola in order to complete the classical string quartet. Besides being pioneers as a group of performers, Boccherini was also the actual creator of this genre, as his quartets are the very first in the history of music, predating those of Franz Joseph Haydn, even though there has been a tendency to name him as the ‘father’ of this genre. After several trips undertaken by the four friends, Manfredi and Boccherini, both from Lucca, travelled alone to Paris where they hoped to perform before the most cosmopolitan audience in the continent.

    Once in the French capital, the two musicians were able to perform in the prestigious stage of the Concerts Spirituels, obtaining certain recognition from press reviews, not enthusiastic, but of an acceptable warmth, although mixed with some unfair commentaries. Clearly enough Manfredi’s violin performance was preferred from Boccherini’s violoncello performance and perhaps because of this fact it was he, rather then Boccherini, who obtained new commissions to continue performing before the Parisian audience.

    By contrast, the value and beauty of Boccherini’s performance was more appreciated in certain private gatherings of Parisian intellects. In fact Luigi was much applauded in the circle of the wealthy Baron de Bagge, who knew Madame Brillon de Jouy, a renowned performer of the fortepiano and harpsichord, for whom Boccherini composed the beautiful Six sonatas for keyboard and violin obligato, Opus 5, a genre to which he would never return to.

    It is very likely that, according to an established rumour, it was the Baron who commissioned the portrait of his protégée in order to preserve the image of someone who had become part of the house’s ‘heritage’. This portrait, whose creator it still to be determined with certainty, has a signature barely visible which reads ‘Liotard’, maybe Jean-Michel Liotard? brother of the more renowned Jean-Etiènne, but there is no sound base for this attribution. In any case, from the perspective of Boccherini’s biography, what is more important is that the canvas presents the sitter, for the first time, in his role as a composer, as he is portrayed holding a pen before a stand packed with scores.

    Boccherini as composer (ca. 1768). Property of Dr Gerhard Christmann, Budenheim, Germany

    Overall, Boccherini’s expectancies in Paris were not fully met, so the two friends rescheduled in different ways their immediate plans. Manfredi, who was treated better by reviewers, remained in the celebrated capital for several months, whereas Luigi, somehow despondent, decided not only not to stay in Paris, but also not to embark to the scheduled trip to England.

    JOURNEY WITHOUT RETURN: MADRID (1768-1769)     Return to Index

    Struck with love for the Roman singer Clementina Pelliccia, who performed as a soprano in the Compañía de los Reales Sitios of the Bolognese Luigi Marescalchi, Boccherini also enrolled in it, joining the trip that the group had planned to Spain in early spring 1768. As part of the programmes established by Marescalchi, we see the Luccan participating in performances of the Compañía at Court and in other cities, like Valencia. There is nothing to support the many times repeated justification for this change of plan, based on an alleged but never proven letter of recommendation that the Spanish ambassador in Paris provided the two musicians with the purpose of establishing them at the Court of Madrid. It was love and not convenience that drove Boccherini to undertake the journey to the south.

    Nor is it certain, as often stated, that this journey to Spanish lands was made by both Luccan musicians, as we find almost simultaneously Boccherini in Aranjuez and Manfredi in Paris between the spring and summer of 1768. Therefore, Luigi followed his beloved Clementina, whereas Manfredi remained in the French capital until the end of June or beginning of July.

    Indeed, we see Boccherini in Aranjuez during spring, performing for the first time one of his own Airs for the second act in L’Almeria by Francesco Majo, one of the operas in the repertoire of Marescalchi’s Compañía. From this moment there is nothing to suggest that Boccherini ever left Spain in his lifetime. It was in this country where he composed the vast majority of his works, as before arriving to Spain he had only published his first five opuses, and it was here where his family was rooted and where his descendants remain to this day.

    Between 1768 and 1770 Boccherini as composer and performer, and Marescalchi as director of the Opera Company, kept a close relationship as part of the Compañía de los Reales Sitios, which several years later would resume when the Bolognese would return to his homeland to exercise the profession of music publisher, issuing several scores of his old friend and employee.

    The aforementioned links between Marescalchi and Boccherini form a special case, as both composed, even though independently, a piece inspired by the same theme, the musical horse parade and entertainment of Las Parejas, which was practised by the Royalty mostly during the spring at a wide space next to the Palace of Aranjuez. Boccherini’s quintet for flute and strings (G. 430) is of 1774 whereas the score of Marescalchi forms part of the book, which Domenico Rossi dedicated in 1781 to ‘his Royal Highness The Prince of Asturias’, the future Carlos IV. Undoubtedly therefore, Boccherini and Marescalchi watched together this type of game and drew inspiration for their two compositions from the music executed with a double orchestra during the horse performance of Las Parejas.

    Title Page of the book Las Parejas (Biblioteca del Palacio Real, Madrid)

    During this period of more than two years, the catalogue of the composer increased with various series of string trios, a set of quartets, various sonatas for violoncello and bass, a concerto for violoncello and orchestra, and a peculiar Concerto for 8 instruments which was performed at the Teatro de los Caños del Peral, in Madrid, and which was recorded in his catalogue as Op.7.

    IN THE SERVICE OF DON LUIS (FROM 1770 UNTIL 1785)     Return to Index

    In 1770 during the Royal sojourn in Aranjuez, the infante don Luis de Borbón, younger brother of King Carlos III, employed Boccherini as violoncellist in his private orchestra and later as composer of his chamber, remaining in these posts until he death of the infante in 1785.

    The entry in the service of don Luis signified a new and drastic change in the life of Boccherini. From being a ‘free’ musician with no ties to a service he passed, for the next 15 years, to the position of servant of a master, even though he always preserved the liberty to continue to publish his works in European markets. This is a characteristic that makes the Luccan a man on the fence in a historical momentum between traditional servilism and new free professionalism, between being tied to security to being free within the uncertainty of the market.

    However, those 15 years of service to this remarkable member of the Royal family, where not uniform. In fact, there were two completely different periods, before and after the marriage of the infante in 1776.

    From 1770 until his marriage in 1776, don Luis lived a life tied with the Court, following and accompanying his brother to the annual sojourns in the Royal Palaces, escorted by his many servants among which was a chamber music ensemble. It was then when Boccherini got to know and engaged in a long-lasting friendship with the family Font, string performers coming from Barcelona who also served the infante. This friendship and professional collaboration would give birth to one of the jewels of universal musical heritage of all times: the string quintet with two violoncellos, for everything indicates that it was the quartet formed by Francisco Font, playing alto and father of Antonio, Pablo and Juan who played various string instruments interchangeably, that served as the basis for Boccherini to add his violoncello, creating this peculiar and seldom chamber formation.

    At that time, don Luis had commissioned to the architect Ventura Rodriguez the restoration of the Palace of Boadilla del Monte, which was constructed years before by Antonio Machuca, and when it was ready it became the infante’s preferred and regular residence outside the Royal Sites. Today this palace needs an adequate protection from the political authorities towards its restoration and use as a public venue in the service of culture. It was in this beautiful palace that the infante began an enormous task of patronage, sponsoring painters, sculptors, musicians, librarians etc. that would make himself one of the most important cultural benefactors of the Borbón family, way over his brother, King Carlos III.

    The Palace of don Luis in Boadilla del Monte

    This palace became the actual witness of an intense musical activity. One example of extraordinary beauty reflects two of the infante’s great passions, hunting and ornithology. To this effect, Boccherini composed in 1771 one of those quintets with two violoncellos in which it is possible to hear the trilling of birds, and in another passage the hunting horns with an evident allusion and homage to the tastes of his patron: the Quintet in D Major Op.11 No.6 (G. 276), which bears the nickname of “L’Uccelliera” (The Aviary).

    However, the quiet life in Boadilla came to an end when the infante, eager to marry, was forced by his brother the king to choose a commoner as a spouse, looking to force him to give up living in the surroundings of the Court and not to pass on his name to his descendants, all as a consequence of an unjustifiable suspicion of succession desire which had never been fuelled by don Luis.

    The immediate result was the celebration of the marriage of don Luis with doña Maria Teresa Vallabriga in June 1776, and the beginning of a long ostracism from Court, so that the couple went on to live temporarily in Cadalso de los Vidrios, then to Talavera and to the estates that the Marquis of Altamira, a friend of the infante’s, had in Velada, and finally in the city of Arenas de San Pedro, in the demarcation of Ávila.

    For the celebration of the newlyweds, Boccherini, who had decided to accompany his patron in exile, presented them with a Serenade in D Major (G. 501) in the form of an orchestral suite.

    PEACE AND CREATIVITY IN ARENAS DE SAN PEDRO (1777-1785)     Return to Index

    During the 9 years that he would stay away from Court, Boccherini composed the majority of his unique collection of string quintets with two violoncellos, in addition to numerous quartets, symphonies, trios, the first version of his Stabat Mater, and the Villancico, already mentioned, among other pieces.

    Quietness, monotony and the possibly tedious life in Arenas, would provide some compensation to Boccherini. On one hand, his family was increasing in the warmth of security, comprising 7 children, although one of them was to die at a very young age. This security, with the enormous salary of 30,000 reales per year, and probably the limited possibility for excessive expenditure, allowed the family to save and to invest in the acquisition of shares of the Bank of San Carlos, founded in 1782. Indeed, Boccherini purchased 10 shares at 2,000 reales, which in addition to providing him with a saving guaranty for his money gave him a considerable interest. This sum, obtained by the endorsement of the shares and the interest income, would allow him, only three years later, to face the terrible misfortunes that would disrupt his life unexpectedly, from the beginning of spring 1785.

    Project design of the Mosquera Palace in Arenas de San Pedro

    Firstly, the sudden death of his wife Clementina, who suffered a stroke at the beginning of April, and soon after, on 7 August, the loss of don Luis, left Boccherini with six young children, without work and without a master.

    RETURN TO MADRID (FROM 1785)     Return to Index

    Back in Madrid, the composer was forced to rebuild his life. He could count on the large monetary funds accumulated in banking stocks, which provided him with a sufficient fortune to support his family comfortably for more than two years.

    However, given the uncertain circumstances, Boccherini went on to a notary in order to draw up his first known will, wishing to secure the way his children would face life in case they would also loose their father.

    Despite his initial concerns, he never lacked resources and was never in need of spending his savings, because he soon obtained three stable sources of income: firstly, an annual royal pension of 12,000 reales, from the Real Capilla (Royal Chapel), although without an actual place (a position he never obtained despite the fact that he kept receiving this stipend until his death); secondly, the entry to the service of the Counts-Dukes of Benavente-Osuna, with a salary of another 12,000 reales (although it appears that he did not enjoy this salary for many years), and finally, by obtaining an assignment for the equivalent amount of each of the previous two from the King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm II, who appointed him composer of his chamber in 1786, a post he held until the death of the king in 1797.

    Additionally, in 1787, he married for the second time with Ma Pilar Joaquina Porreti, daughter of the famous violoncellist Domingo Porreti, re-establishing domestic harmony and commencing a fruitful decade, in which his musical catalogue increased without pause and his family developed comfortably and smoothly. Prior to the restructuring of his family with a new “mother” for his children and a new spouse for him, Boccherini went back to a notary office in order to draw up a second will that would reflect the new situation. Always prudent and organized, the master also exchanged with his new wife two notarial deeds in which the two estates that would now be united and which reached a considerable sum, both in goods as well as money, were perfectly documented, but, being of different backgrounds, were not subject to marital shared property.

    At first, before marrying his second wife, Boccherini and his children had moved into a house in the San Ginés Square, where the master composed the music for La Clementina, a type of zarzuela with a libretto written by don Ramón de la Cruz, to be presented in the salons of the Benavente-Osunas. Soon later, upon his remarriage, Boccherini’s family moved to a house in the street of la Madera Alta, where they lived until the turn of the century.

    The house where Boccherini lived between 1785 and 1787, at the San Ginés Square, Madrid

    THE DECADE OF ABUNDANCE (1786-1796)     Return to Index

    During this calm period which lasted just over ten years, between 1786 and 1797, the musical catalogue of the master would be strengthened showing a clear diversity aside from the taste and demand of his former patron don Luis, a lover, above all, of chamber music. Without neglecting to cultivate the genres of the quartet and quintet, Boccherini addressed with increasing frequency and especially until the resolution of the crisis of the French Revolution, a type of works that required a greater number of instruments: sextets, octets, symphonies, orchestral minuets, as well as an important collection of twelve Arie Accademiche for soprano and orchestra.

    But we might ask ourselves what could have been the impact of a conflict in French territory over the production of a musician based in Madrid?

    It should be held into account that a great part of Boccherini’s works was sold in European markets, especially in France, and that the payment of his Prussian salary depended on the dispatch of scores to the court of King Friedrich Wilhelm II, with France standing as the natural path linking Prussia with Spain. As a consequence, the immense political and social turmoil triggered in 1789, infused great unrest to the master whose production could be significantly affected. Regularity was lost and in addition, there is an entire year, that of 1791, in which his pen did not register a single work. Nevertheless, the peace of the years immediately after, and the better relations between Spain and France under the Earl of Aranda administration, brought serenity back to Boccherini, enabling his creativity to recover to the previous paces, with a notable return to chamber genres, quartets, quintets and trios.

    The end of the decade, which began with the return to Madrid from Arenas de San Pedro, also marked the end of the period which had given to the Boccherinis all the ingredients for a happy life, tranquility, more than enough income, a family with a balanced structure, and children which grew up in an environment of security and welfare.

    The house where Boccherini lived between 1787 and 1802, in the street of La Madera (Alta), Madrid

    However, in 1796, a series of misfortunes struck Boccherini’s household. In May, the eldest daughter, Joaquina, died, and a year later, the successor of Friedrich Wilhelm II, little interested in music, suspended the salary of the musician, which significantly reduced his income.

    Fortunately, and as compensation, at about the same time, Boccherini had begun receiving substantial although not fixed remunerations from the Marquis of Benavent, a Catalan nobleman and amateur guitarist, who wished to have quality music which included a guitar for his own use. To this commission corresponds the popular series of Guitar Quintets (G. 445-453) and the Symphony concertante (G.523), a transcription of the Quintet Op.10 No.4 (G. 268), of 1771, at the same time inspired from the Concerto Grande Op.7 (G. 491), of 1768. However, the Marquis was not a sensible man nor wise, on the contrary, he was extravagant to the unimaginable and soon squandered the enormous fortune he had inherited from his father. When he had no longer anything worthwhile to sell he fell close to poverty and of course ceased the commissions to Boccherini.

    Also, in the summer of 1796, almost coinciding with the death of Joaquina, the Luccan master received a first letter from the editor, composer, and piano manufacturer, Ignaz Pleyel, who, recently based in Paris, wished to receive scores from the Luccan for publication. This new contact meant that Boccherini would gain, for three years, important fees from the French musical market.

    But the relations with Pleyel were never straightforward. Boccherini had to deal with the excessive ambitions of the publisher, his repeated neglects, whims and niggardness. In consequence, a letter dated 20 of June, 1799, was the last of a correspondence that has only survived in one direction: from Boccherini to Pleyel. It is regrettable that the letters the publisher send to the musician have been lost, and that we can only guess their content from the ones that the musician sent to the publisher.

    THE CENTURY COMES TO ITS END AND LIFE FADES AWAY (1796-1801)     Return to Index

    After breaking up with Pleyel, Boccherini searched for alternatives to publish his works, turning to another prestigious music publisher, the Parisian editor Sieber, with whom he establish a brief and not very fruitful correspondence from the beginning of July, 1799. And, as he had done on two previous occasions, in which his situation had changed or was insecure, the master visited once more a notary to sign what would be his ultimate will. This testamentary deed had been traditionally taken as the only that he had signed, but we know now that it is in fact the third and final one.

    In this will Boccherini makes clear what his legacy situation was and describes in detail how his wealth should be divided. Although his financial status and that of his family was not at all concerning, including large savings and ample fortunes both of his own and that of his wife, there is in this document a tone of some complaint for certain moneys he claims he had never received: ‘having lost certain aids and benefits which were promised to me’; and regrets the substantial expenditures that he has had to face because of ‘the disasters and injuries of times’.

    As compensation, during the first months of the brief and agitated ambassadorship of Lucien Bonaparte as French plenipotentiary in Spain, a post that lasted no more than 11 moths, throughout 1801, Boccherini was ordered to conduct the musical soirées of the brother of the future emperor of France. Thus, the composer would receive generous financial rewards, which would counterbalance the difficulties for publishing his works, as the relations with Bonaparte opened new pathways for the trading of his works. This is perhaps also the reason why Boccherini marked in his catalogue various pieces as dedicated to the ‘French Nation’.

    Bonaparte’s diplomatic mission in Spain was linked to the so-called War of the Oranges (Guerra de las Naranjas), by which France pushed Spain to fight against Portugal, in order to break its alliance with England. This mission was not completed as Napoleon had anticipated, causing severe tensions with his brother Lucien who, enraged, requested to return to France, which he did at the end of the same year of 1801, ceasing, naturally, the payments to the musician.

    From then on, we can envisage how Boccherini was approaching the end of his life. Death loomed around him, worsening his illness, an old tuberculosis, and there are no known relations of patronage in his favour as had happened until then, throughout the largest part of his life.

    LIVING WITH DEATH (1801-1805)     Return to Index

    In July 1802, while still living in the street of La Madera Alta, his daughter Mariana died. Nevertheless, perhaps because the household had been reduced by the deaths of Joaquina and Mariana, and because the two male children were emancipated, Luis Marcos, as a priest, and Jose Mariano, as an archivist in the house of Countess Oliva, the Boccherinis moved to a house in the street of El Prado.

    However, the fate of death would also visit them in this new residence. Before the end of the year, Isabel, the youngest daughter died, leaving the musician with one sole daughter Teresa.

    In 1803 the master had a final cosmopolitan contact with the visit of the pianist, singer and composer called Sophie Gail. To mark the occasion, Boccherini gave his visitor the manuscript copy of the 1st version of his Stabat Mater (G. 532), for soprano and orchestra. It was February 1803 and the impression Gail obtained from the master must have been lamentable: Boccherini was old, tired, sad and ill.

    Old aged Boccherini (print of an anonymous engraving)

    Nor this visit nor any other event could reduce the profound sorrow hanging over the aging genius from Lucca. A few compositions that seem to want to hide the moral and physical decay he suffered, show the enormous energy Boccherini was able to display all his life. The fragments of his ultimate and unfinished quartet he registered as Op.64 No.2, seems to spring from the pen of a young man filled with vitality, when the truth is that they belong to a weakened and depressed man who had only a few months left to live.

    To increase his suffering, in July 1804, his only left daughter Teresa died, and only six months later, in January 1805, his second spouse Maria Pilar Joaquina also passed away. Now he lived alone, perhaps assisted by his two sons, but plunged into grief. Slowly, the end of the one who had been the apex of musical production of the Mediterranean classicism was approaching.

    Indeed, Luigi Boccherini died on 28 May 1805, at the age of 62, no more than five short months after his wife, whilst residing at number 5 of the street of Jesús y Maria, in the district of Lavapiés in Madrid, in a house that most likely corresponds today with number 6.

    His remains were buried in the parish of San Justo and 122 years later, i.e. in 1927, were exhumed for their final transfer to his birthplace, in Lucca, in the church of San Francesco.

    POST-MORTEM     Return to Index

    The year 1905 marked the commemoration of the first centenary of his death, although the ceremonial events in Spain would achieve no more than a brief evocation. In 1955, the municipal authorities of Madrid, the Italian Embassy and the Italian Institute of Culture prepared a number of events, of limited relevance: a remembrance plaque was placed on the façade of the house presently with number 5, in the street of Jesús y Maria, where Boccherini never lived, and some cloudy articles were published in periodicals with a disappointing content.

    Only since the publication of the biographical work of the Baroness Germaine de Rothschild and the Thematic Catalogue by the French musicologist Yves Gérard has the recovery of this grand master of classicism begun.

    In the year 2005, the bicentenary anniversary of this death, the musical community has paid an adequate tribute to Luigi Boccherini. Dozens of concerts with his music have been held, numerous books, studies and articles published about him, many of his works have been broadcasted on the radio, numerous conferences and meeting have been held, several CDs have been released, and three international congresses were held in Cremona (Italy), Madrid and Fermo (Italy), and an international meeting in L’Aquila (Italy), … Also strong mechanisms of coordination and collaborations, associations, study centres, web pages, blogs, etc., have been established so that Boccherini scholarship will never again fall into oblivion.

    The collective memory on Boccherini finally stood at the level he deserved. However, a lot remains to be done, and his flame need to be permanently lit if we wish to fully recover for this universal musician the podium from which he should never be absent.

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