Luigi Boccherini (1743 - 1805)

The reputation of Boccherini rivalled that of Haydn, if the nickname ‘the wife of Haydn’ may be accepted as evidence of contemporary fame. He was a virtuoso cellist and worked first in his native Lucca and then in Vienna, before moving to Paris and thence to Spain, where he seems to have remained from 1768 until his death. There he was in the service of the Infante Don Luis and various other patrons, and was appointed court composer to King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia (himself a cellist, although there is no evidence of his actual presence at Potsdam). He died in apparent poverty in 1805.

Chamber Music

Boccherini is popularly known as the composer of a famous minuet from one of his quintets (Op. 11 No. 5, for string quartet with an additional cello), in which the first cello plays a role of notable technical demand. He also wrote a series of challenging cello sonatas, initially, it may be supposed, for his own use.

Cello Concertos

Of Boccherini’s 12 surviving cello concertos the Concerto in G major, G.480 is probably the best known.