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  • Understanding Boccherini’s Manu -scriptsed. by Rudolf Rasch
  • John Moran
Understanding Boccherini’s Manuscripts. Edited by Rudolf Rasch. New-castle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014. [xx, 236 p. ISBN 9781443856638. £44.99.] Illustra tions, bibliography, indexes.

Though sequestered in Spain, far from Europe’s musical capitals, for thirty-five years, Luigi Boccherini worked persistently in artistic seclusion, producing a steady stream of compositions that contributed to an ongoing musical, cultural dialogue without ever monopolizing the conversation. Likewise, Boccherini scholarship is progressing apace, indebted to a fairly small, dedicated group of scholars who are still laying the foundations for an organized, contextualized understanding of his oeuvre. As Rudolf Rasch, the editor of this volume, formulates it, they have “three main tasks concerning Boccherini’s music still to be fulfilled: the publication of his works in reliable editions, the realization of a reliable catalogue of his works and the establishment of a reliable chronology” (p. viii). The assessment of a need for a reliable catalog, as opposed to an update to Yves Gérard’s respected Thematic, Biblio graphical, and Criti cal Catalogue of the Works of Luigi Boccherini(London: Ox ford University Press, 1969), might seem a tad overstated. Work on the project called Gérard 2 (supported by the [End Page 567]Centro Studi Luigi Opera Omnia Boccherini, Lucca) with a work group that includes Gérard himself and several of the contributors to Understanding Boccherini’s Manuscripts, is already well underway. Nevertheless, important fundamental work remains to be done, and this book aims to contribute “to the advancement of these tasks” (p. viii).

The idea for this book grew out of the Second International Conference on Boccherini, held in Madrid in November 2011. Six of its eight chapters are based on reports from this conference: “Boccherini’s Manuscripts: A Typology” by Rasch (pp. 1– 30), “Towards a Revised Chronology of Boccherini’s Works” by Germán Labrador (pp. 31–66); “Boccherini and the Copyists from His Immediate Circle” by Loukia Drosopoulou (pp. 67–108); “Boccherini’s Psalm Laudate pueriin the Library of the Instituto Musicale in Lucca” by Giulio Battelli (pp. 129–38); “Boccherini, Artaria and Joseph Kaunitz-Rietberg: New Documents, New Perspectives” by Rupert Ridgewell (pp. 139–53); and “Boccherini’s Guitar Quintets: New Light on Their Provenance” by Matanya Ophee (pp. 155– 69), all but the last of which were extensively revised for publication. In addition, two chapters were commissioned specifically for the book: “Boccherini’s Thematic Catalogues: A Reappraisal” by Marco Mangani and Federica Rovelli (pp. 109–28) and “Julian Marshall and Boccherini’s Scena dell’Inés de Castro” by Jaime Tortella (pp. 171–201). The entire text is supported by seven indexes that allow the reader to search by specific letter, catalog, manuscript, early edition, work, subject, or name.

The first four chapters of this book broadly address the questions regarding the state of Boccherini’s manuscripts, both those in his own hand and those prepared for him by copyists. It should be mentioned, however, that two important areas of Boccherini’s output receive only limited attention: his vocal music and the sonatas and concertos for his own instrument, the cello, which are almost entirely ignored. Rasch’s own chapter on the typology of the composer’s manuscripts formulates a useful system for categorizing the surviving manuscripts. He also postulates Boccherini’s use of what he calls “publication” scores. These would have been score copies made, often hastily, for, or perhaps by, Boccherini, to send to publishers. Rasch comments on how rarely such “publication” scores have survived (p. 3) without considering whether the lack of their survival might just as well indicate that the composer, more often than not, sent other types of materials for publication, such as his own autograph or a set of parts. Boccherini’s letter of 1780 offering items to the Vienna publisher Artaria, quoted later in this book in the chapter by Ridgewell, states that “the originals will be faithfully delivered . . . without reserving a copy for myself, as has always been my practice” (p. 142). This hardly corroborates Boccherini’s routine use of specially prepared “publication” scores. Rasch’s division of Boccherini’s oeuvre...


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