Friday, October 28, 2011

Bravo, Boccherini!

Today I feel like celebrating the beautiful music of Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805), the Italian composer and cellist. Born in Lucca, Italy, he eventually made his way to Spain, where he was later employed by the Spanish Royals, becoming a court composer. He flourished there until one day the King told him he was not happy with a particular passage in his music. Furious, Boccherini defiantly doubled the passage instead of eliminating it, and he was soon dismissed! He went on live in a little town in the Gredos Mountains in Spain, and composed some of his most famous works. He did have patronage from other "glitterati", but eventually died in near poverty in 1805. He was married twice, and survived by two sons. His blood line continues in Spain to this day.

One of my favorites of his is the "La Musica Notturna delle Strade di Madrid,  Opus 30, No. 6", used in the Master and Commander soundtrack. It takes its inspiration from the evening scenes in the little towns in Spain, church bells ringing, laughter in the square, soldiers sounding the curfew from the garrison. Critics said, outside Spain the piece was useless, with the audience hardly able to comprehend its full significance.
Little did they know, how the music still stands up today, as one of his most charming and enduring of his works. Give it a listen sometime. The version from M&C is wonderful, and a delight when paired with the scene from the film.

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