LUCHESI, ANDREA: SEI SONATE PER IL CLAVICEMBALO CON L’ACCOMPAGNAMENTO DI UN VIOLINO OP. 1 (M.Paciariello, S.Pisana)

DECEMBER 2017: Sonata I, Sonata II, Sonata III, Sonata IV, Sonata V, Sonata VI

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(b Motta di Livenza, nr Treviso23 May 1741d Bonn21 March 1801). Italian composer. By 1757 he was in Venice where, according to Neefe, he was trained ‘in the theatrical style’ by Gioacchino Cocchi, and ‘in the church style’ by Padre Giuseppe Paolucci and Giuseppe Saratelli, the maestro di cappella of S Marco. From 1765, with the support of his patron, the music theorist Count Giordano Riccati, Lucchesi made a name for himself in Venice as an opera composer and wrote sacred and secular occasional works on commission. He also travelled to neighbouring cities as a virtuoso performer on the harpsichord and particularly organ. In 1768, for instance, he played for the dedication of the organ in Padua Cathedral.

In 1771, like many of his colleagues, he went to Germany as the director of a travelling opera company. A decree of 26 May 1774 from the Elector Archbishop of Cologne appointed him court Kapellmeister in Bonn, succeeding Beethoven’s grandfather. In 1775 he married into the distinguished d’Anthoin family. As the opera company had dispersed and the court theatre had been closed, Lucchesi was now principally active as a composer of church music. Nonetheless, he still wrote a few small-scale stage works, and in 1785 composed a serenata for the elector on the occasion of his consecration as bishop. However, the musical direction of the Nationaltheater in Bonn, built in 1778, was in the hands of the court organist C.G. Neefe, while instrumental music at the court was the responsibility first of the violinist Gaetano Mattioli and later Josef Reicha.

Apart from a visit in 1783–4 to Venice, where Lucchesi produced his opera seria Ademira, and where he probably received the title of director of the Accademia Musical de’ Tedeschi, Lucchesi remained in Bonn until the court was dissolved after the French occupation of the Rhineland in 1794. In 1787 he was appointed Titularrat. From 1782 to 1792 the young Beethoven was a member of the court Kapelle, first as assistant organist, then as harpsichordist and viola player. In addition to Neefe’s teaching and his experience in Reicha’s orchestra, Beethoven’s musical development must have been considerably influenced by Lucchesi, who, as Kapellmeister, determined the repertory of sacred music performed at the court. After the elector’s flight in 1794 and in the event of the court returning, plans for church music on a smaller scale were entrusted to Lucchesi. However, they came to nothing, and his final years were spent in poverty and obscurity.

In line with his career, Lucchesi’s works can be divided into the operas and instrumental works of his time in Venice and early years in Bonn, and his sacred music for the electoral Kapelle. His secular works were performed in many different European cities, ranging from Lisbon, where one of his operas was performed, to Stockholm and Prague, where several of his symphonies found their way into the archives. While he had been most famous for his organ works in Italy, according to La Borde his symphonies were held in particularly high esteem in Germany, a notable achievement for an Italian at this time. Leopold Mozart, writing in his 1771 diary of his Venetian travels, described Lucchesi as a maestro di cemballo and liked to use one of his harpsichord concertos when teaching. Although only a few of Lucchesi’s works appeared in print, his Sei sonate op.1 for harpsichord and violin (1772), was the first music to be printed in Bonn. Lucchesi’s sacred music, apart from the early works (mostly lost), is now at the Biblioteca Estense in Modena, together with a large part of the manuscript and printed music from the elector’s collection. Apart from many compositions for liturgical use, his sacred works include a Passion to a Metastasio libretto for concertante performance during Holy Week.

Various contemporary assessments of Lucchesi’s style have come down to us. Burney called him ‘a very pleasing composer’, while La Borde speaks of ‘a particularly graceful style, concise and energetic arrangement of the parts, and new ideas’. Neefe described him as ‘a light, agreeable and lively composer, whose counterpoint is cleaner than that of many of his countrymen’, adding, however, that in his sacred works he ‘does not always confine himself to the strict style’. Lucchesi’s approach to sacred music reconciled the stile antico and the stile moderno, combining an early form of the imitation of Palestrina with the secularized, fashionable operatic style of the 18th century. It was entirely in the spirit of the contemporary theory of church music that he had learnt from his teacher Paolucci (a pupil of Padre Martini) and from Vallotti in Padua.

CLAUDIA VALDER-KNECHTGES, From The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians

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