Boccherini the bold

I really like learning random facts about the composers who create the music I listen to. Last week, the featured composer on ABC Classic was Luigi Boccherini, and what I learnt about him had me grinning so much, I just had to share.

Boccherini, born in the 18th Century, inherited his father’s talent for playing cello, and showed marvellous skill from a very young age. When he was just 18, the Spanish Royal Family discovered his talents, and he gained patronage from the king’s brother.

However, his career took a turn when the king told him to change part of a composition — something as minor as removing a line from the piece. Boccherini disagreed with this suggestion, and believed (as stated by the radio presenter) that the king should “stick to ruling the country, and leave the composing to him”. In defiance, rather than removing the line as requested/ordered, he repeated it.

Even without knowing anything about the King of Spain of that time, you can imagine that he did not take too kindly to Boccherini’s modification. As a result, Boccherini was promptly sacked. Soon after, he left Madrid, and moved to the Gredos Mountains (which apparently provided him lots of inspiration for composing).

I did some skim reading through Google, and looks like Boccherini died quite poor, so it was possibly not the greatest move on his part to disobey the King of Spain, but I do quite commend his chutzpah.

The moral I took from this anecdote was that if you create something, and you have confidence in what you’ve created, you shouldn’t let anyone — not even the King of Spain — tell you that you’re wrong. Taking feedback is a necessary part of self-improvement, but sometimes you just have to stand your ground.

doubt and composition

The presenters on ABC Classic, my favourite radio station, sometimes provide little bits of information about classical composers in between the music. Since I know very little about music history, I find it quite interesting, and will often make an effort to stop and listen to what they say.

This week I learnt that Clara Schumann, one of the world’s greatest composers and pianists, experienced a lot of self-doubt about her worth as a composer, and, despite her obvious talent, not to mention her own enjoyment of composing, felt that it was not a suitable endeavour for her (or other women — such were the times back then).

She was also limited by needing to support her family (she had seven children) after the death of her husband, Robert Schumann, at a relatively young age. She spent much of the rest of her life playing piano recitals/concerts in order to stay afloat financially.

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why I listen to ABC Classic FM

As I’m writing this, I’m listening to my favourite radio station, ABC Classic FM. Yes, classical music. Who would’ve thought?

There’s some lively piece of music playing at the moment – something that energises and awakens – so fitting for this time of the morning (late Sunday morning, although I’ll publish this later in the week). I didn’t pay attention to the introduction, so I can’t tell you what the piece is called or who composed it or who is playing it, but it’s delightful and feels like the perfect thing to be listening to as I write.  Continue reading