The sense of lyricism and of proportion in the works of the Italian composer, Luigi Boccherini is often amazing, as was his creativity and productivity. Though he was born in Lucca to a musical family, by the time he was 14 he travelled to Vienna to play in an orchestra there, and it was there that he first encountered the music of Franz Joseph Haydn, who was Boccherini's senior by nearly 19 years. He returned often to play in Italy, but by the age 25 his fame was growing and was invited to Paris to appear as a cello soloist at a Concert Spirituel. He was hailed as a great virtuoso, and his works were extremely popular and widely published. The next year he received an invitiation to become chamber composer to the court of the Infante Luis in Madrid. Boccherini stayed until 1786, the year the Infante died, and subsequently took a position with Freidrich Wilhelm II of Prussia. But by 1797 he was back in Madrid and three years later Boccherini secured the patronage of Napoleon's brother, Lucien Bonaparte, then the French ambassador to Madrid. He held this position until he died.
Boccherini admired Haydn greatly, and was strongly influenced by Haydn's style. This influence was so obvious that music lovers of the day fondly proclaimed "Boccherini is the wife of Haydn". During his long career, he wrote an impressive number of large-scale chamber works. His output includes 91 string quartets (Haydn wrote 83), an astonishing 137 quintets for various combinations of strings, as well as multitudes of trios, keyboard quintets, sextets, sonatas and other works. As a virtuoso cellist, he wrote a dozen excellent concertos for his instrument that are too little known today. Boccherini's 30 symphonies suffer in comparison with Haydn's and Mozart's, as do everyones from this period, but they are always pleasant, inviting, and sometimes surprisingly inventive. ~L.D. Lampson