In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Luigi (Ridolfo) Boccherini

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Collections of Essays
  • Journals
  • Testaments
  • Complete Editions
  • Other Editions
  • Orchestral Music
  • Cello Music
  • Vocal Music
  • Operas and Ballets
  • Boccherini in Italy
  • Boccherini in Austria and France
  • Boccherini in Spain
  • Boccherini and Prussia
  • Boccherini and his Copyists: Studies on the Handwriting
  • Iconography
  • Reception
  • Sources: General Issues
  • Sources: Recent Discoveries

Music Luigi (Ridolfo) Boccherini
Fulvia Morabito
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 April 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0179


Luigi Ridolfo Boccherini (b. 1743–d. 1805) was an Italian composer and cellist. Son of Leopoldo Boccherini (singer and double-bass player), brother of Maria Ester (a ballet dancer) and Giovanni Antonio Gastone (ballet dancer, man of letters, and librettist), Luigi received his initial musical education in Lucca, the city of his birth, from both his father and the cellist Domenico Francesco Vannucci. In 1753 he moved to Rome to study with the renowned cellist Giovanni Battista Costanzi. In 1756 he began his career as a virtuoso cellist, performing in Lucca, Venice, Trieste, Florence, Modena, Pavia, Cremona, Genoa, and repeatedly in Vienna (1758, 1760–1761, and 1763–1764, respectively). In 1766 he was a member of the Quartetto Toscano, together with the violinists Filippo Manfredi, Pietro Nardini, and the viola player Giuseppe Cambini. In 1767, after a short stay in Paris under the patronage of Charles-Ernest Ennal, Baron de Bagge, Boccherini relocated to Spain (1768), where he remained until his death. In Aranjuez he worked in the Compagnia dell’Opera Italiana dei Sitios Reales under the auspices of King Carlos III, Price of Asturias. In 1770, he was at Las Arenas de San Pedro, in the service of the Infante Luis Antonio Jaime of Bourbon, younger brother of the king. The death of Don Louis, in 1785, necessitated a further move to Madrid. Boccherini obtained a pension from Carlos III and, during the period 1786–1797, worked for Frederick Wilhelm II, King of Prussia. From March 1786 until the end of 1787 he was also engaged as composer and conductor by María Josefa Alfonsa Pimentel, Duchess-Countess of Benavente and Duchess of Osuna, a notable patron of music. During the period 1790–1791 he sent some compositions to a certain “M. Boulogne” in Paris, and from c. 1796 he was also in the service of Francisco Borja de Riquer y de Ros, Marquis of Benavent, an amateur guitarist living in Madrid. His final patron was Lucien Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon, and ambassador in Madrid. Boccherini composed almost six hundred opus numbers: mostly Chamber Music (mainly Duets and Trios, Quartets, Quintets, and so forth); cello concertos; symphonies, and a few vocal works such as La Clementina and a Stabat Mater. A refined composer, he personalized the features of the Viennese classical style. He published the greater part of his output with the Parisian publishers Venier, La Chevardière, Sieber, and Pleyel. Studies of Boccherini’s life, period, and works comprise Complete Editions, several book-length studies, and numerous articles.

General Overviews

This section comprises contributions that provide general information about Boccherini’s life, works, and style. Speck’s article in Grove Music Online, Boccherini, (Ridolfo) Luigi, and Speck 1994– are the only up-to-date overviews of the life and works of Boccherini in English and German, respectively. Tortella 2008 is an illustrated dictionary, containing about four hundred entries related to Boccherini: places, institutions, ancient and modern publishers, currencies, performers, patrons, and scholars. Each entry has a basic literature and a section of términos conexos providing a hyperlink to the text. A bibliography and a discography end the volume. Slightly revised and translated into English, the work is available for free in Tortella 2010.

  • Speck, Christian. “Boccherini, (Ridolfo) Luigi.” In Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart: Allgemeine Enzyklopädie der Muzik. Personentail 3. 2d ed. Edited by Ludwig Finscher, 147–166. Kassel, Germany: Bärenreiter, 1994–.

    The article deals with the life of Boccherini, giving a catalogue of the works and a bibliography. A section dedicated to Dokumente (documents) is divided into Briefwechsel (letters), Nekrologe (obituaries), Eigenhändlige Werkverzeichnisse (work lists), and Ikonographie (Iconography).

  • Speck, Christian, and Stanley Sadie. “Boccherini, (Ridolfo) Luigi.” In Grove Music Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    This article is divided into the following sections: 1. Life; 2. Sources; 3. Vocal and Orchestral Music; 4. Chamber Music; 5. Works; 6. Bibliography. Works are listed with references to Boccherini y Calonje 1879 (cited under Complete Non-Autograph Catalogues) and Gérard 1969 (cited under Reference Works). When appropriate, the author also specifies the main edition of each single work. Available by subscription.

  • Tortella, Jaime. Luigi Boccherini: Diccionario de Términos, Lugares y Personas. Tempo de Minuetto 3, Serie Summa. Madrid: Asociación Luigi Boccherini, 2008.

    Facilitates quick and efficient research. Some entries are either not updated (e.g., “Breslau” [Wracław]—see also Speck 2011, cited under Breslau Letter); “Boulogne” (see also Lister 2006, cited under Boccherini in Austria and France); or missing (e.g., Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini). Available in English (translation sponsored by the Associación Luigi Boccherini, slightly revised, Los Angeles: UCLA, 2010).

  • Tortella, Jaime. Luigi Boccherini: Dictionary of Persons, Places, and Terms. Los Angeles: University of California, 2010.

    An illustrated dictionary, containing about four hundred entries related to the life and works of Luigi Boccherini. English translation of Tortella 2008 sponsored by the Associación Luigi Boccherini, slightly revised.

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