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Friday Arts Feature - An Italian In Spain

by Chauncey Tinker – 13 Sep 2019

Image By Pompeo Batoni - http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/3744/, Public Domain, Link

Luigi Boccherini is most famous today for just a couple of pieces of music which were featured in films. One of these was featured in the classic Ealing comedy “The Ladykillers“, where the hapless criminal gang pretend to be musicians, they plan their robbery with the music playing on a record player in the background. The other was featured in the relatively recent film “Master and Commander The Far Side of the World“, which starred Russell Crowe as a sea captain during the Napoleonic Wars. Both are great films in my opinion which I strongly recommend (please avoid the remake of the Ladykillers starring Tom Hanks, at least until you have seen the original, which is a cinematic masterpiece).

Luigi Boccherini’s music has been enjoying something of a revival from the second half of the twentieth century onwards, which I think is well deserved because he wrote a lot of fine music in my opinion. Here is another example, just one movement (the third), about 5 and a half minutes long, from the String Quintet in A minor Op. 25 No. 6 (G300):

I share just the one movement above as a sample, but I do recommend the work in its entirety (it’s about 20 minutes long). Here is a performance of the complete work performed by a different group:

Here is the piece that was used in the film Master and Commander, String Quintet in C, Op.30 No.6:

Luigi Boccherini was born in Italy, but from 1761 onwards he worked in Spain, and he died in Madrid in 1805. He was employed in the Spanish court, but he was apparently dismissed by the King after a disagreement about one of his works (the incident perhaps revealing Boccherini’s fiery artistic temperament). He left the court with the Infante Luis Antonio of Spain and continued to work in Spain, later also enjoying the patronage of the French ambassador to Spain and Frederick William II of Prussia (who was also a patron of both Mozart and Beethoven).

Boccherini's birthplace, Lucca in Italy.

Image By Bernardo Bellotto - This file has been provided by York Museums Trust as part of a GLAMwiki partnership., Public Domain, Link

Have a good weekend everyone.

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