Luigi (Carlo Zanobi Salvadore Maria) Cherubini


Born in Florence, Luigi Cherubini studied under Bartolomeo Felici before an operatic apprenticeship with Sarti in Naples.  Cherubini was allowed to contribute arias to Sarti's operas in addition to more mundane duties such as copy work and further study in counterpoint.  In 1779 he gave his first stage work, Il Quinto Fabio, and continued to work in the genre.  After a brief period in London, he visited Paris and began to make contacts.  Viotti found him a post in a company patronised by the Count of Provence, allowing him to have his opera Lodoïska performed to great acclaim.  After spending the duration of the French Revolution clear of Paris, Cherubini returned in 1793 to resume his career as an operatic composer.  Médée (1797) was a particular success, and his growing status allowed him to travel to Vienna.  Here he met Beethoven and Haydn, who received him enthusiastically, and Napoleon, who requested a series of concerts and a return to Paris.

Cherubini suffered from deep depression; believing his musical powers waning, he almost switched to a career as a botanist.  Turning to the church for solace, his interest in religious music was revived and he wrote several masses, including two requiems.  In later life he was greatly honoured, becoming the first musician to be appointed Commander of the Légion d'honneur, and for twenty years was director of the Paris Conservatoire, leaving the post only a month before his death in 1842.

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