String Quartet No.1 in c minor, G.159 (Op.2 No.1)
Boccherini's String Quartet in c minor, G.159, according to most scholars is the first string quartet that he composed. It was in 1761, that a set of six quartets were published variously as his Opus 2 or Opus 1. The opus number to Boccherini's works are both confusing and unreliable because different publishers would give the same work different opus numbers. It was only until they were catalogued by Yves Gérard that we now have an accurate chronological catalog of his works. This quartet, the first of the set, along with the other five are the only quartets composed before Boccherini left Italy for Paris and hence are free from Parisian influence. It is in three movements, following the then normal fast--slow--fast pattern. (Allegro commodo, Largo and Allegro) These Op.2 quartets were, as the title page to the original edition shows, dedicated to "Amateurs and Connoisseurs of Music" and are a clear indication that Boccherini was hoping to gain the attention and approval of those musicians who counted. There are several touches which seem to show the influence of the Viennese composers Georg Monn and Franz Turna, probably from his stay in Vienna the previous year. Of particular note is the fact that the cello is a true equal of the other voices and is often given a chance to lead the ensemble, no doubt, because it was Boccherini's own instrument.
Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805) was born in the town of Lucca in northern Italy. He studied cello and became a virtuoso. But it was at a time that such players could not yet make a living from touring, so Boccherini found jobs in various orchestras in Vienna and Italy. Boccherini eventually moved to Paris where he hoped to establish himself as an independent soloist and composer but could not and was forced to take employment with the Spanish royal family for the rest of his life.
This Quartet is obviously quite important from an historical standpoint as one of the earliest to be composed but it can stand on its own as to its thematic interest and part writing. Our new edition has measure numbers.
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