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(1760 - 1842)

Luigi Cherubini was born in Florence in 1760, the tenth of the twelve children of the theatre harpsichordist at the Teatro della Pergola, his first teacher. As a child he had further instruction from leading Florentine composers and had an early composition, a Mass, performed in 1773. He continued in adolescence to write further church music and a smaller number of secular dramatic works. In 1778, after the performance of his cantata La pubblica felicità (Public Happiness) in honour of the Grand Duke Leopold of Tuscany, the future Emperor Leopold II, he was awarded by the Grand Duke the means of further study with the well known opera composer Giuseppe Sarti, a former pupil of Padre Martini. Cherubini’s period from 1778 to 1781 with Sarti in Bologna and from 1779 in Milan, where his teacher was maestro di cappella at the Cathedral and distinguished at the Teatro della Scala, brought the chance to compose operas for Florence and other Italian cities. In 1784 and 1785 he was in London, where he won success in the theatre, and from there he travelled to Paris. It was through the violinist and impresario Viotti, established in that city, that Cherubini was presented to Queen Marie Antoinette, and in 1786 he settled in France, collaborating with Viotti under the patronage of the King’s brother at the Théâtre de Monsieur at the Tuileries, before his great success with the opera Lodoïska at Viotti’s new Théâtre Feydeau, a venture curtailed by the Revolution, when Viotti took refuge in London and the wine-trade.

After a period of retirement to the countryside, Cherubini returned to Paris in 1793, eventually finding employment as an inspector at the new Institut National de Musique, the future Conservatoire. The decade brought settings of texts approved by the new, secular régime and operatic success with what remains his best known opera, Médée (Medea), and with Les deux journées (The Two Days), an opera that had its effect on Beethoven’s own later Fidelio, the first performance of which Cherubini attended in 1805 during a successful visit to Vienna at the invitation of the director of the court opera, Baron Peter von Braun in 1805. Here he met Haydn, Beethoven and others and saw to the staging of his opera Lodoïska and of a new opera, Faniska. Napoleon’s occupation of the city in that year brought Cherubini unexpected if perhaps grudging favour, and Napoleon took advantage of Cherubini’s presence in Vienna to make him his director of music in Vienna late in 1805 until early in 1806, responsible for concerts at Schönbrunn, where Napoleon had taken up residence. After this Cherubini returned to Paris, where he retained his position as inspector at the Conservatoire but now wrote relatively little, finding occupation in the study of botany and in painting. As time went on he was able to return to composition, with the one-act opera Pimmalione (Pygmalion) staged at the Tuileries in 1809 and with an Ode à l’Hymen the following year for Napoleon’s second marriage. The restoration of the monarchy after Napoleon’s defeat brought him appointment in 1816 as a superintendent of the King’s music under his former patron, now Louis XVIII. Further official honours followed, with significant appointment in 1822 as director of the Conservatoire, a position he held with distinction until a few weeks before his death in 1842.

Role: Classical Composer 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
BBC LEGENDS - Great Recordings from the Archive (20 CD Box Set) ICA Classics
BELLINI, V.: Sonnambula (La) (Callas, Monti, La Scala, Votto) (1957) Naxos Historical
CALLAS, Maria: Callas at La Scala (1956) Naxos Classical Archives
CAPPELLA COLONIENSIS (1954-2004) Capriccio
Vocal, Choral - Sacred
Chamber Music - CHERUBINI, L. / CAMBINI, G.M. (String Trios) (Trio Hegel) Tactus
Chamber Music
CHERUBINI, L.: Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn / Symphony (Cappella Coloniensis, Ferro) Phoenix Edition
Vocal, Orchestral
CHERUBINI, L.: Koukourgi (Stadttheater Kalgenfurt, 2010) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
Opera DVD
CHERUBINI, L.: Mass in A Major / Chant sur la mort de Haydn (Schmiege, Hill, Barbacini, Cologne Chamber Choir, Cappella Coloniensis, Ferro) Capriccio
Vocal, Choral - Sacred
CHERUBINI, L.: Medea (Callas, Vickers, Carlyle, Cossotto, Covent Garden Opera Chorus and Orchestra, Rescigno) (1959) ICA Classics
CHERUBINI: Requiem / Marche funebre Naxos
Orchestral, Choral - Sacred
CHERUBINI: Sposo di tre e marito di nessuna (Lo) (Thrice Betrothed, Never Wed) Dynamic
CHERUBINI: String Quartets Nos. 1 in E-Flat Major and 2 in C Major BIS
Chamber Music
CHERUBINI: String Quartets Nos. 3 in D Minor and 4 in E Major BIS
Chamber Music
CHERUBINI: String Quartets Nos. 5 in F Major and 6 in A Minor BIS
Chamber Music
CHERUBINI: Symphony in D Major / Opera Overtures Naxos
Choral Music (Sacred) - SCHUBERT, F. / BRAHMS, J. / MENDELSSOHN, Felix / VERDI, G. / MONTEVERDI, C. / BRUCKNER, A. / MOZART, W.A. / GRIEG, E. Capriccio
Choral - Sacred
Dialogue for Two Organs Naxos
Harp Recital: Ciccozzi, Antonella - VIOTTI, G.B. / PAISIELLO, G. / CLEMENTI, M. / POLLINI, F. / CHERUBINI, L. Tactus
Horn Recital: Joy, Andrew - HAYDN, F.J. / ROSETTI, A. / PUNTO, G. / CHERUBINI, L. / DANZI, F. Capriccio
Classical Concert
MESSEN (Masses) - MOZART, W.A. / HAYDN, G.F. / SCHUBERT, F. / WEBER, C.-M. von / BEETHOVEN, L.V. / CHERUBINI, L. / GOUNOD, C.-F. Capriccio
Choral - Sacred
MOZART: Symphony No. 39 / SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 2 (Celibidache) (NTSC) Opus Arte
Classical Concert
Opera Overtures (18th Century) - VIVALDI, A. / SAMMARTINI, G. / LEO, L. / VINCI, L. / TRAETTA, T. (Italian Operatic Overtures, Vol. 1) Dynamic
Orchestral Music (Italian) - LOCATELLI, P.A. / MARCELLO, A. / GEMINIANI, F. / PAISIELLO, G. / CHERUBINI, L. (Cappella Coloniensis, Ferro) Capriccio
Organ Recital: Giacomelli, Gabriele - ISAAC, H. / MALVEZZI, C. / CAVALIERI, E. de' (L'Organo a Firenze dai Medici All'Unità D'Italia) Tactus
PRESIDENT'S OWN UNITED STATES MARINE BAND: Schoepper, Vol. 13 of the Robert Hoe Collection The Robert Hoe Collection
Wind Ensemble/Band Music
WUNDERLICH, Fritz: Rarities from Opera and Operetta SWR Classic

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