Composer of classical church music and opera; b. Florence, Italy, Sept. 14, 1760 (baptized Maria Luigi Carlo Zenobio Salvatore); d. Paris, March 15, 1842. Cherubini's catalogue is headed by a Mass in F which he composed at 13, after study from the age of six with his father and later with B. Felici and his son. In 1778, through the Grand Duke of Tuscany (later Emperor Leopold III), he began studies under Giuseppe Sarti at Milan and then Bologna, which resulted in 20 Palestrina-styled motets. From 1780 to 1806 he concentrated on opera, and in his eight serious Paris operas (he had settled there in 1788) extended the reforms initiated by gluck. In 1795 he was appointed professor of counterpoint at the newly founded Paris Conservatory, and became director in 1822. Meanwhile, since Napoleon disliked his music, he moved in 1805 to Vienna, where he met beethoven (who regarded him as preeminent among living composers) and F. J. haydn, and was warmly received by the public; but he returned to Paris after the outbreak of war between Austria and France. Ill and depressed, he ceased composing altogether, until, while he was recuperating at the chateau of the Prince of Chimay, the local music society pleaded with him to compose a Mass for their church; thus began the great series of church music he produced between 1808 and 1836. Outstanding are the two orchestral Requiems, in C-minor and in D-minor (composed for his own funeral). In a memorable phrase about the Cminor's Agnus Dei, Cardinal J. H. Newman spoke of "the lovely note C, which keeps recurring as the Requiem approaches eternity." In both operatic and sacred forms he combined classic severity of style (tempered by modern harmonic resources and colorful orchestration), great contrapuntal skill, and dramatic power.
See Also: liturgical music, history of
Bibliography: e. bellasis, Cherubini (enl. ed. Birmingham, Eng. 1912). e. blom, "Cherubini in Church," Stepchildren of Music (London 1925). g. confalonieri, Prigiona di un artista: Il romanzo di Luigi Cherubini, 2 v. (Milan 1948). m. quatrelles l'epine, Cherubini, 1760–1842: Notes et documents inédits (Lille 1913). a. loewenberg, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. e. blom, 9 v. (5th ed. London 1954) 2:198–201. n. slonimsky, ed., Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (5th ed. New York 1958) 282–283. r. carnesecchi, "Cherubini, chantre de la Révolution," Rassegna Veneta di Studi Musicali, 4 (1998) 177–200. b. dean, "Luigi Cherubini," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. s. sadie, v. 4 (New York 1980) 203–213. p. griffiths, The String Quartet: A History (New York 1983) 116–118. m. hohenegger, "Themenstrukturen in Orchesterwerken von Luigi Cherubini," Studien zur Musikwissenschaft, 43 (1994) 159–189; "Formstrukturen in den Ouverturen von Cherubinis frühen Opern," Studien zur Musikwissenschaft, 46 (1998) 95–142. a. jacobshagen, "Koukourgi (1792–1793): à propos d'un opéra-comique inconnu de Luigi Cherubini," Revue de Musicologie, 78 (1992) 257–287. s. c. willis, "(Maria-) Luigi (-Carlo-Zenobio-Salvatore) Cherubini," in International Dictionary of Opera, ed. c. s. larue, 2 v. (Detroit 1993) 246–250; "Médée (Medea )," in International Dictionary of Opera ed. c. s. larue, 2 v. (Detroit 1993) 840–842.
Luigi Cherubini (lwē´jē kārōōbē´nē), 1760–1842, Italian composer, who lived in Paris after 1788. Before he was 16 he wrote masses and other sacred works; he later composed Italian opera. In Paris he assimilated French operatic tradition and wrote operas of broad dramatic scope with rich orchestration, such as Médée (1797) and Les Deux Journées (1800), which influenced Beethoven's vocal music. In 1816 he became professor of composition at the Paris Conservatory, and in 1822 he became its director. Renowned for his contrapuntal skill, in his later years he wrote mostly sacred music, including his masses in F Major (1809) and A Major (1825) and his Requiem in D Minor (1836).