Official release: May 2021
To cite one example among many, Biagio Marini wrote “Per ogni sorte d’stromento musicale” (“for all kinds of musical instruments”) on the title-page of his collection of “Diversi generi di Sonate, da Chiesa, e da Camera, A Due, Trè & à quattro”, published in Venice in 1655. In so doing, he was not only realizing a commercial operation, in order to enlarge the public of the possible purchasers of his music, but he was also bearing witness to a practice which was common at least throughout the Baroque period.
This practice is that of transcription, of adaptation; of “appropriation” (if one wishes to use the definition by Johann Gottfried Walther in his organ version of Concertos by Italian composers), or of “accommodation” (to cite the manuscript of Johann Sebastian Bach’s A-minor Concerto BWV 593 after Vivaldi, as compiled by Johann Friedrich Agricola).
This practice consists in the habit to reuse and elaborate one’s own works or those by other composers, adapting them for new occasions and new instruments.
What is done here by Eugenia Cherkazova and Svitlana Shabaltina, with a repertoire ranging from Daquin’s Baroque to Piazzolla’s twentieth century, is therefore not an extemporaneous operation. Rather, it is the re-statement of a typically Baroque habit. This was not exhausted by the reproduction of pieces on a different instrument or with a different ensemble; rather, it presupposed an important intervention of adaptation by the performer.
The two performing musicians realise this task masterfully. They manage with great freedom the freshness of an ensemble which is very seldom heard in concert halls. They use fully the resources of their instruments, offering a new and captivating viewpoint on famous composers (such as Daquin, Boccherini and Piazzolla) and on others who are almost unknown to the audience, such as Piazza or Bortniansky.
The variety of the pieces, of the characters, of the timbres (especially thanks to the accordion, which “colours” the various compositions with a skilled and lively management of the stops) is noteworthy.
This ranges from Piazza’s Sonata, proposed in a version which could have been an original one (with a small organ instead of the accordion), up to the pieces by Bortniansky, Corrette and Boccherini. Here the harpsichord plays the original score faithfully, while the accordion resumes the parts of the instrumental ensemble. There is Daquin’s Coucou, played practically at the unison: here the accordion gives shades to the piece by wisely combining the registers; there is Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango, where the harpsichord replaces the guitar and the accordion performs the flute part, without forgetting its close kinship with the bandoneon, the instrumental protagonist of the Argentine tango.
The pieces’ adaptations have been entirely realized by the performers, starting with the original versions, and with the exception of Boccherini’s Fandango. Here, the musicians’ starting point was Andreas Staier’s version for two harpsichords.
This CD is very pleasurable to listen to. The two musicians’ perfect understanding appears evidently, along with their habit to play live: these provide the recording with a warmth and liveliness which are not always found in CD recordings.
The two instruments are used with great freedom. However, in spite of the modernity of some effects (such as the use of the “bellows shake” by the accordion), the performers’ interpretive self-awareness and their sensitivity allow them to constantly maintain a noteworthy stylistic and formal coherence.
I am also glad to point out, by way of conclusion, that the cooperation between Eugenia Cherkazova and Svitlana Shabaltina goes beyond their performances and discographic productions. It also includes the didactic aspect, in which Professor Shabaltina’s support to the accordion class of the Conservatory of Kiev, as concerns their work on the early repertoire, is really praiseworthy. While it is now widely common to play seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music on the accordion, performers (not only among the accordionists) frequently lack the cultural elements necessary for a deep comprehension of a repertoire which is temporally distant from us and difficult to interpret. The cooperation with early music specialists is therefore indispensable in order to acquire self-awareness and to interpret Baroque music in a credible fashion.
An applause to these two musicians, therefore, for the cultural operation they are developing and for their magnificent performance!
Album Notes by Giorgio Dellarole
Translation by Chiara Bertoglio
Little is known about Gaetano Piazza, though recent studies by Luca Civelli have shed new light on the long life of this composer who was mainly active in Milan. His skill as an organist is testified by the fact that he was appointed chapel master to various churches (including some of the most important ones in Milan), and that he maintained this prestigious role in up to five churches at the same time. He wrote several operas, performed in many important cities (such as Pavia, Naples, Milan etc.), and was highly appreciated as a teacher. The famous German composer and musician, Johann Paul Schulthesius, wrote about him in very enthusiastic terms, and Piazza was also held in high esteem by Padre Martini, the learned Franciscan of Bologna.
His life has many points in common with that of Dmitri Bortniansky, a Ukrainian composer who was Piazza’s junior by several years, but who had intense relationships with Italy. Bortniansky had studied with Baldassarre Galuppi, a Venetian composer who spent some years in St. Petersburg, and later he came to the Peninsula where he enjoyed considerable success in the field of operatic music. In Italy he had also the opportunity to familiarize himself thoroughly with the styles of Catholic church music, and this experience proved very important for the development of his own “serious” style. Even though Orthodox liturgical music proper did not include the concertato style which was so popular in Western Europe, in his capacity as the Choir Director of the Imperial Chapel he wrote many sacred (non-liturgical) works which reveal his fascination for the Italianate style.
A pattern similar to Piazza’s life is found also in the professional itinerary of Michel Corrette, who is also remembered as a prolific composer and a skilled teacher. Corrette wrote several pedagogical treatises, for the performance of diverse instruments (such as the violin, flute, cello, viola, keyboard, mandolin, guitar, double-bass, bassoon, harp and recorder!). His output includes many works for the theatrical stage (ballets and divertimenti), sacred music and a high number of instrumental pieces, which bear witness to the variety of his musical interests and to his deep knowledge of the specificities of several instruments.
By way of contrast, the talent of Louis-Claude Daquin was best expressed in the field of keyboard music. He was a famous and appreciated organist, and he crowned his career with the post of First Organist at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. He had been an exceptional child prodigy (something also Bortniansky is remembered for): already at the age of 12 Daquin had obtained a job as organist in the prestigious Sainte-Chapelle of Paris. His interest in the field of sacred music is revealed by his numerous liturgical works, including a Psalm (Beatus vir) he composed and conducted at the age of eight. His skill at the keyboard was also displayed in his activity as a harpsichordist and in the high number of keyboard works he left, including the enormously popular Coucou (“The Cuckoo”) recorded here.
The instrument favoured by Luigi Boccherini was still another, i.e. the cello. Indeed, Boccherini was one of the first great cello virtuosi in history, and his fame reached stellar heights during his life. He came from a family of musicians and dancers, and his large musical output includes numerous quartets and quintets (not only for strings). This contributes to earning him pride of place as one of the greatest representatives of the Italian chamber music school, at a time when this specific genre was practised mostly in Northern Europe. His familiarity with the Spanish musical idiom (represented by his Fandango in this recording) is due to the years he spent in Spain, as an appreciated performer and composer.
The cultural characterization of the fandango, one of the most popular dances of the eighteenth century, parallels that of the tango in the modern age. Piazzolla (who is credited to be the composer who gave full artistic dignity to this genre, and brought it to the concert halls) traces an itinerary of the development of tango music from its origins at the beginning of the twentieth century, to its most modern flair in the Sixties.
This fascinating musical itinerary, from the Baroque to the Galant style, and up to modernity, reveals the (quite literally) unheard-of possibilities of this uncommon duo, and the rich variety of sounds it can produce.
Album Notes by Chiara Bertoglio
Eugenia Cherkazova: Eugenia Cherkazova is well-known as talented performer on the accordion with a refined academic classical style of performing and a leading teacher of the keyboard accordion class at National Music Academy of Ukraine. E. Cherkazova graduated from Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine in accordion (class of prof. M.Davydov) and orchestral conducting (prof.A.Vlasenko). She won the Grand Prize and Gold Medalin in category “Soloists” at International Competition “Grand Prix” (France), Diploma at Nomination “Chamber Music” at International Contest “Fogthland Music Days” (Germany) and the First Prize in category “Instrumental Duet” at “Music World International Competition” (Italy). She is a soloist at National Philharmonic of Ukraine (Kyiv), the leader of the chamber ensemble “Quartetto DZHERELO”. Collaborates with National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and Academic Symphony Orchestra of National Philharmonic of Ukraine. E. Cherkazova has performed in Ukraine, Italy, Poland, France, Greece, Germany, Latvia, Romania, United Arab Emirates, Belarus, Georgia. She performs in prestigious Italian concert halls, among them: Chiesa di S. Caterina (Treviso), Palazzo Te (Mantova), Ridotto del Teatro Nuovo (Verona); Castiglione del Terziere (Massa); Auditorium Orpheus (Torino); Studio Teologico della Basilica del Santo (Padova); Chiesa di S. Nicolò (Talla AR). Her repertoire includes various styles: from pieces of Baroque period, whose transcriptions she does herself, to original contemporary chamber music. Now Eugenia Cherkazova is professor and the Head of Accordion Department at Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine. Many of her students are the winners of International accordion competitions and famous concert performers. She founded the student orchestra «GRAND ACCORDEON», which conducts an active concert life in Ukraine and abroad. E. Cherkazova is Art-director of annual festival "KyivAccordionFest" with participating of famous European and young Ukrainian performers. She is a jury member of many International competitions, such Trophée Mondiale L’Accordèon, Vilnius-2017, Festa della fisarmonica, “Wanda Landowska” (Italy). She gives masterclasses in Ukraine, Italy, Greece. Held seminars at the Milan Conservatoire “G. Verdi”, Conservatoire “N. Piccinni” in Bari,”Vincenzo Bellini” in Caltanissetta, and other. In 2005 she was invited to leave her handprint at the “Museum of the Most Famous Accordionists Imprints” at Recoaro Terme (Italy). In 2019 received Italian state award “Ordine Stella d’Italia”.
Svitlana Shabaltina: Svitlana Shabaltina was born in Kyiv. Graduated from Gnesins Musical Pedagogical Institute, Piano department (Moscow) and post-graduated at the same institute. Prominent professor Boris Zemlianski influenced very much the future ofher creative personality. In 1990-1992 had an artistic internship at Krakow Musical Academy with well-known harpsichordist Elzbieta Stefanska.
Svitlana gives concerts as a soloist and with different chamber ensembles, she has given concerts in Great Britain, USA, Holland, Germany, Italy, France, Poland, Turkey. She has also taken part at numerous festivals of modern and early music in Ukraine and abroad. Among them: International festival and congress «Musica Antiqua Europae Orientalis», «Dni Bachowski» (Poland), «Cembalissimo» (Hungary), «Bach readings» and «Five evenings of harpsichord» (Russia), Festival clavicembalistico «WANDA LANDOWSKA» (Italy), different festivals of early music in Ukraine.
In 1995 Svitlana Shabaltina founded the first in Ukraine class of harpsichord at National Music Academy of Ukraine (Kyiv). She has been a professor of early music chair at the Academy since 2000. Students of her class have won diplomas and other awards of different international competitions.
S. Shabaltina played first night performances of solo and chamber pieces of modern Ukrainian composers, recorded several CDs, such as 2 albums from the series «Ukrainian performers» (piano), «Ukrainian and Russian music of XVI-XVIII centuries» (harpsichord), «8-years W. A. Mozart music» (with eminent Ukrainian flutist O. Koudriashov).
S. Shabaltina is a member of the jury at International harpsichord competition in Ruvo di Puglia (Italy) and chair of the jury at Harpsichord competition in Kyiv (Ukraine). She is the author of many articles published in special magazines of Early Music and of the book “Harpsichord through centuries” (2013). S. Shabaltina gives masterclasses and lectures in Ukraine, Russia, Poland and Turkey.
Svitlana Shabaltina is the member of Société Européenne de Culture (Venice). Her name is mentioned in the dictionary «International Who’s Who in Music and Musicians’ Directory (In the Classical and Light Classical Fields) » Volume One 2000/2001 Seventeenth Edition.
Astor Piazzolla: (b Mar del Plata, 11 March 1921; d Buenos Aires, 5 July 1992). Argentine composer, bandleader and bandoneón player. A child prodigy on the bandoneón, Piazzolla and his family emigrated to New York in 1924; in his teens he became acquainted with Gardel, for whom he worked as a tour guide, translator and occasional performer. Piazzolla returned to Buenos Aires in 1937 where he gave concerts and made tango arrangements for Aníbal Troilo, a leading bandleader; he also studied classical music with Ginastera. In 1944 Piazzolla left Troilo’s band to form the Orquesta del 46 as a vehicle for his own compositions. A symphony composed in 1954 for the Buenos Aires PO won him a scholarship to study in Paris with Boulanger, who encouraged him in the composition of tangos; the following year he resettled in Argentina and formed the Octeto Buenos Aires and, later, the Quinteto Nuevo Tango, which performed at his own club, Jamaica. Piazzolla left Argentina in 1974, settling in Paris, where he composed a concerto for bandoneón and a cello sonata for Rostropovich, among other works.
Piazzolla’s distinctive brand of tango, later called ‘nuevo tango’, initially met with resistance. Including fugue, extreme chromaticism, dissonance, elements of jazz and, at times, expanded instrumentation, it was condemned by the old-guard, including not only most tango composers and bandleaders but also Borges, whose short story El hombre de la Esquina Rosada was the basis for Piazzolla’s El tango (1969); like tango itself, Piazzolla’s work first found general approval outside Argentina, principally in France and the USA. By the 1980s, however, Piazzolla’s music was widely accepted even in his native country, where he was now seen as the saviour of tango, which during the 1950s and 60s had declined in popularity and appeal. In the late 1980s Piazzolla’s works began to be taken up by classical performers, in particular the Kronos Quartet, who commissioned Five Tango Sensations (1989). In all he composed about 750 works, including film scores for Tangos: the Exile of Gardel (1985) and Sur (1987). Shortly before his death, he was commissioned to write an opera on the life of Gardel.
Luigi Boccherini: (i) 1743–67.
Luigi Boccherini (his first baptismal name seems never to have been used), was the third child of the musician Leopoldo Boccherini (1712–66) and his wife Maria Santa, née Prosperi (d Aranjuez, 1776). Leopoldo's activities as a singer, and from 1747 as a second double bass player (contrabassista soprannumerario) in the Cappella Palatina, allowed the family only a modest standard of living in their home town of Lucca. Thanks to intensive parental encouragement, the Boccherini children developed their considerable artistic talents early: Luigi's elder brother Giovanni Gastone (1742–c1800) began a career as a ballet dancer in 1756 (Grossato, 1993, pp.137–8), appearing in Venice, Trieste, Vienna, Rome and elsewhere, and from 1773 was ‘dramatic poet’ (Theatraldichter) at the Burgtheater in Vienna, where he worked with Calzabigi and made a name as librettist for comic operas (including works by Antonio Salieri and Florian Gassmann) and for Joseph Haydn's oratorio Il ritorno di Tobia of 1775. Luigi's elder sister Maria Ester (1740–c1800) became a popular and successful solo dancer while she was still very young at the Burgtheater, where she worked with Gluck. The records also mention her appearances as a prima ballerina in Bologna, Venice and Florence between 1763 and 1777; Salvatore Viganò was the son of her marriage to the dancer and choreographer Onorato Viganò. Luigi's sister Anna Matilde (b 1744) was a ballet dancer in Vienna and his sister Riccarda (b 1747) an opera singer, appearing in Florence in 1777.
Luigi Boccherini probably had his first musical education from his father, as was usual in musicians' families. He attended the archiepiscopal Seminario di S Martino in Lucca as a day pupil from about 1751 to 1753 and received a comprehensive musical training from the maestro di cappella and cellist Domenico Francesco Vannucci, including tuition in singing and cello playing. There is evidence that he sang as a choirboy in Luccan churches and at the Teatro Pubblico in 1753. That autumn he went to study in Rome, where G.B. Costanzi, nicknamed ‘Giovannino del Violoncello’, is said to have been his teacher (Bonaventura, 1931). It is not known exactly how long he remained there, but he was back in Lucca by the summer of 1756, making his début on 4 August 1756 with a cello concerto. Through the sympathetic support of Giacomo Puccini, maestro di cappella of the Cappella Palatina and organist at S Martino, he made a number of further appearances on local occasions involving sacred music and at other festivities. Judging by the fees he commanded, the young Boccherini must already have been regarded as one of the city's outstanding musicians.
In 1757 Boccherini may have accompanied his father and his elder siblings at engagements in Venice and Trieste. In any case, he made a very successful appearance with his father in Vienna in the spring of 1758 as a soloist in the Musikalische Fasten-Accademien at the Burgtheater. Subsequently, they were both engaged as musici in the imperial capital from Easter until the autumn, playing in the orchestra of the German theatre of the imperial court theatre, the Kärntnertortheater, directed by Count Giacomo Durazzo. Most of the music Boccherini played there was ballet music, by Starzer, Gassmann and Gluck. Father and son returned to Vienna for further engagements in the same capacity in 1760–61 and 1763–4, on each occasion for a full theatrical year beginning after Easter. In Vienna, Boccherini encountered strong competition as a soloist; the known sources indicate that he did not appear at the academies of the imperial court as often as other cellists in the city, and there is documentary evidence only for two solo concerts given by him in Vienna in 1763. The sources provide only fragmentary information about Boccherini's other movements between the end of 1758 and 1764. He gave several concerts in Lucca; on 19 March 1761, in Florence, the ‘celebre suonatore di Violoncello’ earned much applause for a concert of music by himself, its mode of composition being described by the diarist who mentions it as being ‘of a completely new kind’ (‘d'un maniera dell tutto nuova’, I-Fas, Ospizio dei Melani Ms.34, p.230); and he appeared in Modena on 7 January 1762. No programmes for his solo concerts are known. Neither Vienna nor the Italian cities could offer a cello virtuoso of the time the means to make a living purely as a soloist. During a period of intensive creativity in 1760 and 1761, Boccherini wrote his first significant compositions, 18 in all: the trios op.1, the quartets op.2 and the duets op.3, all for strings (the opus numbers cited in this discussion are those from Boccherini's own catalogue, which often differ from the published opus numbers; see §5 below). In April 1764 an application Boccherini had made in 1760 for a post as cellist in the Cappella Palatina of Lucca was finally granted. A commission to compose a cantata for the local election festivities (Tasche) in December 1765 in Lucca, shows that he was by then recognized as a composer. In July 1765 he met G.B. Sammartini at festival concerts in Pavia and Cremona, where he and his father were making a well-paid appearance before Leopold I, Grand Duke of Tuscany. In April 1766 he applied for an orchestral position at the Teatro Alibert in Rome, where he gave a solo performance, but it seems that he was unsuccessful. The story of Boccherini's membership for six months of a string quartet, with the violinists Filippo Manfredi and Pietro Nardini, and Giuseppe Cambini as the viola player (recounted by Cambini in his Nouvelle méthode of c1795 and in AMZ, vi, 1803–4, cols.781–3), may relate to this period, although their alleged study of Haydn's early quartets as well as Boccherini's own does not seem plausible at this date. Soon after the death of his father in August 1766 Boccherini and his friend Manfredi, primo violino of the Cappella Palatina, went to Genoa, where they enjoyed the patronage of the nobility. Boccherini wrote at least one of his two oratorios for the oratorian congregation in that city. In September 1767 they left Genoa together, intending to travel to London; the records show that they were in Nice on 5 October.
Boccherini, Luigi, §1: Life, 1743–67
The next stop on their tour was Paris, where Boccherini and Manfredi stayed for six months at the most. There Boccherini came under the patronage of the influential Baron de Bagge (Charles-Ernest Ennal). Boccherini was not an unknown when he arrived, for in April 1767 Jean Baptiste Venier had published his first six string quartets there as op.2, and in July Bailleux issued his first six trios for two violins and cello as op.1; the Mercure de France (April 1768) described these works as ‘very effective’. Paris was the main place of publication for Boccherini's works throughout his lifetime, although the only work published under his own supervision was the series of six trios op.4, g83–8, issued by Venier in March 1768. However, the most important product of his visit to Paris was the set of six sonatas for keyboard with violin accompaniment op.5, which Boccherini dedicated to the amateur keyboard player Anne Louise Boyvin d’Hardancourt Brillon de Jouy, and which was distributed in numerous copies and editions into the 19th century. Boccherini performed at private concerts in the salons of Baron de Bagge, Mme Brillon de Jouy and no doubt other figures of Parisian society. His only recorded public appearance in Paris was at the Concert Spirituel on 20 March 1768, when Manfredi played a violin concerto of his own composition and Boccherini performed one of his own cello sonatas. The Mercure de France praised Boccherini's performance but the Mémoires secrets of Louis-Petit Bachaumont speak of his harsh playing and a lack of harmonious chords (Rothschild, 1962, p.33). After a second appearance by Manfredi on 4 April, the two men left the French capital, but in a change to their original plan they went not to London but to Madrid, having been promised posts there by the Spanish ambassador. By spring 1768 they were playing in the orchestra of an Italian opera company in Aranjuez. The sources mention a performance of Gian Francesco de Majo's Almeria to which Boccherini contributed an interlude aria with cello solo. The ‘Compagnia dell'opera Italiana dei Sitios Reales’ enjoyed the patronage of Crown Prince Carlos, Prince of the Asturias, to whom Boccherini's six trios op.6 of 1769 are dedicated. The company performed in the newly equipped theatres of the royal residences at Aranjuez and La Granja of S Ildefonso, where the Spanish court regularly stayed in spring and summer. There must also have been performances at the Escorial and perhaps at the hunting lodge of El Pardo. The company's base was the castle of Boadillo del Monte near Madrid, the principal home of the Infante Luis Antonio Jaime of Bourbon, younger brother of King Carlos III. Boccherini seems to have been a member of the opera company until 1770, and Manfredi was its first violinist until 1772. In the autumn of 1768 Boccherini was with the company when it visited Valencia, and ate there with Giacomo Casanova, who described him as ‘célèbre’ (The Story of my Life, xi, chapter 4). The orchestra performed Boccherini's first sinfonia concertante (g491) in the ‘academies’ of July 1769 at the Teatro del los Caños del Peral in Madrid, probably with the composer playing the solo cello part in the second movement, and Niccolò Piccinni's La buona figliuola was given in Aranjuez in the spring of 1769 with Boccherini's overture g527, based on the Symphony g490. Boccherini must also have played at many private concerts in the houses of the nobility in Madrid and the Sitios, as the dedication of his series of quartets op.9 (1770) ‘alli Signori Diletanti di Madrid’ indicates. About 1770 he married Clementina Pellicia, second soprano in the opera company; of the six children of this marriage only Boccherini's two sons Luis Marcos and Jose Mariano survived him.
On 8 November 1770 Boccherini entered the service of Don Luis in Aranjuez as compositore e virtuoso di camera at a salary of 14,000 reals (raised to 18,000 in 1772). He had dedicated his quartets op.8 to Don Luis a year before. This relatively well-paid position led to a marked increase in Boccherini's activity as a composer, and he immediately extended the range of genres in which he worked with his quintets and sextets for strings and flute or oboe (the sextets op.16 and ‘quintettini’ op.17, 1773), his series of six symphonies op.12 (1771), and above all his first two series of string quintets, each containing six works, opp.10 and 11 (1771). The string quintet formation with two cellos that Boccherini created seems to have resulted from the fact that Don Luis had a string quartet which with Boccherini himself could become a quintet. During these years most of his compositions were very soon published, the majority of them in Paris. According to a later statement by Boccherini, his annual quota of music written for Don Luis was to comprise three opere, each of six compositions. On Don Luis's morganatic marriage in 1776 he moved his residence first to Velada near Talavera, in 1777 to Cadalso de los Vidrios, and at the end of 1777 to Las Arenas de San Pedro in the Sierra de Gredos, taking Boccherini with him. Don Luis's staff now also included Boccherini's brother Giovanni Gastone.
From the seclusion of Las Arenas, Boccherini made energetic efforts to resume contact with the musical world. He set up a business relationship with the publishing firm of Artaria in Vienna in 1780, and in 1781 entered into a short correspondence about the firm with Joseph Haydn, whom he greatly admired. In 1783, through the Prussian envoy at the Madrid court, he sent compositions written in his own hand to Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, an enthusiastic cellist. The prince immediately wrote a personal letter back expressing his lively interest in new works, which Boccherini satisfied by sending some of his earlier compositions to Berlin; however, his conditions of service with Don Luis stipulated that he was not to compose for any other patron at the same time. Perhaps to ensure that he remained in Madrid rather than going to Berlin, Don Luis improved these conditions: under his renewed contract of 17 August 1784, Boccherini received a additional 12,000 reals for the compositions he was to write. If the dates in Boccherini's own catalogue of his works and on the surviving musical manuscripts are correct, his creative production at this period was already considerably reduced. Apart from the six string quintets op.36 of 1784, he apparently wrote no new chamber music for the four years from 1782, and for the three years 1783–5 the only other work mentioned in the records is the villancico g539, a Christmas cantata.
Boccherini's wife and his patron Don Luis both died in 1785. At his petition, King Carlos III granted him an annual pension of 12,000 reals, and he was promised the next place to fall vacant in the Real Capilla. The entry into the Real Capilla in 1787 of another cellist, Francesco Brunetti, then only just 20 years old, may be the origin of the legend that jealous rivalry existed between Boccherini and Francesco Brunetti's father Gaetano, a violinist of high standing in the Real Capilla and music master to the Prince of the Asturias. At the end of 1785 or early in 1786 Boccherini returned to Madrid and was nominally appointed a member of the Real Capilla (músico agregado a la Real Capilla).
Boccherini, Luigi, §1: Life, 1743–67
On 21 January 1786 Boccherini was appointed ‘compositeur de notre chambre’ to Crown Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, who was crowned king as Friedrich Wilhelm II in the same year (Rothschild, 1962, p.59). The post carried an annual salary of 1000 talers. Subsequently Boccherini sent his new patron in Prussia 12 instrumental works a year, almost without a break, most of them string quartets and quintets. The only gap in this regular production of works was in 1791; possibly the 12 concert arias g544–55 were composed that year. It now seems unlikely that Boccherini himself ever went to Prussia as earlier biographers assumed (solely on the evidence of a letter of doubtful authenticity from Breslau). More probably, he continued living in Las Arenas near Madrid for the rest of his life. From March 1786 onwards he was also engaged in Madrid at a salary of 1000 reals a month as director de orquesta y compositor by María Josefa Alfonsa Pimentel, Duchess-Countess of Benavente and Duchess of Osuna, a notable patron of music. It is not known whether this appointment continued after the ten months mentioned in the documents, and if so for how long. According to the account of his travels (1834) by the English writer William Beckford, Boccherini was still in the duchess's service at the end of 1787. His music was evidently highly esteemed by the Benavente-Osuna family, for its music library contained a large number of his works from 1761 to 1787 (111 items, including compositions dedicated to the duchess from 1782, 1786 and 1787), and his opera or zarzuela La Clementina was performed at the duchess's palace in Madrid in 1786 (the only other recorded performance was in Valencia in 1796). Beckford tells an amusing story about Boccherini's feeling for dance and sense of musical decorum at a ball given in the Madrid palace of a rich member of the Pacheco family in December 1787. In the same year Boccherini married María del Pilar Joaquina Porretti, daughter of a former first cellist of the Real Capilla who had died four years earlier and who had been admired by Farinelli.
Carlos III died in 1788 and was succeeded by his son Carlos IV, the former Prince of the Asturias. The music-loving monarch, who played the violin himself, established both a chamber music ensemble (músicos de la real cámera, with Gaetano and Francesco Brunetti) and in 1795 the royal chamber orchestra. Boccherini was not a member of either group, but according to tradition he was recruited by the king to perform with him in quartets and symphonies, and suffered from his ‘ear-splitting’ playing (letter, François de Fossa to Louis Picquot, 8 August 1847; see Ophee, 1981). There was still great interest in Boccherini's music in Paris; around 1790–91 he had a private patron there, a man called Boulogne who perished in the chaotic aftermath of the French Revolution (possibly the taffeta manufacturer Jacques-Laurent Boulogne, 1753–94). Boccherini's chamber music was performed at concerts in his house, with Viotti as first violin, as Boccherini wrote to Pleyel on 4 January 1798. According to Boccherini, Boulogne's music library contained transcripts of 110 of his works. Friedrich Wilhelm II owned copies of the same works, also purely for private use.
Boccherini, Luigi, §1: Life, 1743–67
Boccherini's last nine years were troubled by illness and misfortune. His unmarried daughter Joaquina died in 1796 at the age of about 25. In the same year Boccherini accepted an offer from the Parisian publisher Ignace Pleyel, and after brief negotiations sold him 58 works (opp.44 to 54) for 7200 reals. Immediately afterwards, negotiations began for the sale of 110 other works written earlier, and an unhappy chapter in Boccherini's life began. Friedrich Wilhelm II died unexpectedly in 1797. Boccherini petitioned his successor for employment, but on 2 March 1798 the new king refused his application, and declined to grant him a pension. He finally sold the 110 works mentioned above to Pleyel for 9600 reals (letter to Pleyel, 24 December 1798). It was understandable that Pleyel at first hesitated over the purchase, since a number of these works had already been distributed for years by other publishers. However, the letters to Pleyel (reproduced in an appendix to Della Croce, 1988) suggest that Boccherini's generous and honourable behaviour was often answered by suspicion, discourtesy and procrastination; though it is also clear that Pleyel's letters (which do not survive) contained praise of Boccherini's music. Pleyel also dedicated three of his own string quartets (b365–7) to Boccherini in 1803. In any event, in 1798 and 1799, and at longer intervals thereafter, Pleyel's published collections meant the concentrated distribution of works by Boccherini, some of which had lain unknown for as long as 12 years. Pleyel took considerable liberties in his choice of works and the order in which he printed them, thus contributing a good deal to the confusion surrounding the opus numbering of Boccherini's printed compositions. Boccherini's next publisher was Sieber in Paris.
The patronage of the house of Benavente-Osuna came to an end, at the latest, when the duke and duchess moved to Paris in 1799. In 1798–9 Boccherini wrote a dozen arrangements of his own works for guitar, two violins, viola and cello for François de Borgia, Marquis of Benavente (not a member of the same dynasty). At this time he was turning increasingly to vocal music: he wrote the Scena dell'Ines di Castro for the stage by April 1798, and a second opera, Dorval e Virginia, which was performed during the carnival season of 1799–1800 in Turin but is now lost. Of his sacred works, he wrote a Mass (now lost) and a second version of his Stabat mater in 1800, and the Christmas cantata op.63 (now lost) in 1802. In 1799, flattered by reports of the popularity of his works in Paris and hoping for new patronage, Boccherini composed the six piano quintets op.57 with a dedication to the French nation. The invitation to him to become a member of the administrative council of the Paris Conservatoire may have been a response to this dedication; however, Boccherini's great-grandson Alfredo Boccherini said in his biography of the composer that Boccherini declined the post. He finally found a new patron in November 1800 in the person of Lucien Bonaparte, French ambassador in Madrid. Boccherini organized musical performances for him, and continued writing works dedicated to him even after Bonaparte was recalled from Spain in December 1801. On 20 January 1802 Joseph Bonaparte granted Boccherini a pension of 3000 francs a year. Nothing is known about Boccherini's connection with Tsar Aleksandr I of Russia apart from the dedication to him of the Christmas cantata op.63. The composer's grief at the deaths of his two daughters Mariana (b 1782) and Ysabel in 1802, and then of his fourth daughter Maria Teresa and his second wife two years later, must have hastened his death. In the late 1790s he had a friendly paternal relationship with the singer Pierre Garat and the violinist Pierre Rode, whom he is said to have helped with the orchestration of a concerto. He taught the young violinist Alexandre-Jean Boucher how to interpret his works, but there is no evidence that he regularly taught either the cello or composition. Unfortunately, he never wrote a treatise describing what must have been his outstanding cello technique. Musicians of note visited Boccherini in Madrid, including the cellist B.H. Romberg in 1801 and the singer and pianist Sophie Gail in 1803; she found him living in a state of exhaustion in a small apartment consisting of a single room with a gallery (at Calle de Jesus y Maria 5, near the Plaza Tirso de Molina).
Towards the end of his life Boccherini's financial circumstances were modest and his health poor. He seems to have given up composition in 1804, with his unfinished String Quartet op.64 no.2. He died of peritoneal tuberculosis in 1805 and was buried in the church of S Justo y Pastor in Madrid. In 1927 his remains were taken to Lucca and re-buried in the basilica of S Francesco. A second exhumation in 1995 showed that Boccherini was about 1·65 metres tall and of slight build; the middle finger of his left hand was chronically inflamed, from playing the cello, and he suffered from epicondylitis of the left arm and elbow and arthrosis of the cervical vertebrae. An inventory of his possessions in his own hand, drawn up in 1787, indicates that he owned two Stradivari cellos.