Cherubini, Luigi

views updated May 29 2018


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, 17601842: Notes et documents inédits (Lille 1913). a. loewenberg, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. e. blom, 9 v. (5th ed. London 1954) 2:198201. n. slonimsky, ed., Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (5th ed. New York 1958) 282283. r. carnesecchi, "Cherubini, chantre de la Révolution," Rassegna Veneta di Studi Musicali, 4 (1998) 177200. b. dean, "Luigi Cherubini," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. s. sadie, v. 4 (New York 1980) 203213. p. griffiths, The String Quartet: A History (New York 1983) 116118. m. hohenegger, "Themenstrukturen in Orchesterwerken von Luigi Cherubini," Studien zur Musikwissenschaft, 43 (1994) 159189; "Formstrukturen in den Ouverturen von Cherubinis frühen Opern," Studien zur Musikwissenschaft, 46 (1998) 95142. a. jacobshagen, "Koukourgi (17921793): à propos d'un opéra-comique inconnu de Luigi Cherubini," Revue de Musicologie, 78 (1992) 257287. s. c. willis, "(Maria-) Luigi (-Carlo-Zenobio-Salvatore) Cherubini," in International Dictionary of Opera, ed. c. s. larue, 2 v. (Detroit 1993) 246250; "Médée (Medea )," in International Dictionary of Opera ed. c. s. larue, 2 v. (Detroit 1993) 840842.

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Cherubini, Luigi

views updated May 14 2018

Cherubini, Luigi ( Carlo Zanobi Salvadore Maria) (b Florence, 1760; d Paris, 1842). It. composer. Comp. quantity of church mus. by age of 16. From 1778 to 1781 worked in Bologna and Milan with Sarti, contributing arias to his operas. His own Il Quinto Fabio was staged in 1779. Further operas were prod. in Livorno, Rome, and Venice. Visited London in 1784 producing 2 operas there. Settled in Paris 1788 where his new, Gluck-inspired operatic style revolutionized Fr. stage. Under a cloud because of Napoleon's disfavour, went in 1805 to Vienna where he met Haydn and Beethoven. The latter was strongly influenced (esp. in Fidelio) by Cherubini's operas, 4 of which he heard in Vienna. Visited London 1815, writing sym. while there. Became prof. of comp. Paris Cons. 1816, dir. 1821–41. His masses are deservedly famous. Among his nearly 30 operas were: Quinto Fabio (1779, rev. 1783, Rome), Armida (Florence 1782), Adriano in Siria (Livorno 1782), Lo sposo di tre (Venice 1783), La finta principessa (London 1785), Giulio Sabino (London 1786), Ifigenia in Aulide (Turin 1788), Démophoön (Paris 1788), Lodoïska (Paris 1791), Médée (Paris 1797), Les Deux Journées (Ger. Der Wasserträger, Eng. The Water Carrier) (Paris 1800), Anacréon (1803), Faniska (Vienna 1806), Les Abencérages (Paris 1813), Bayard à Mezières (1814), Ali Baba (1833). His Requiem No.2, in D minor, still frequently performed, was written in 1836 and f.p. at the Paris Cons. in 1838. His Requiem in C minor was comp. in 1816 and f.p. in St Denis 1817. He also wrote 6 str. qts.