Luigi Cherubini  
Luigi Cherubini

Luigi Cherubini
Luigi Cherubini, in full Maria Luigi Carlo Zenobio Salvatore Cherubini (born Sept. 14, 1760, Florence [Italy]—died March 15, 1842, Paris, France), Italian-born French composer during the period of transition from Classicism to Romanticism; he contributed to the development of French opera and was also a master of sacred music. His mature operas are characterized by the way they use some of the new techniques and subject matter of the Romantics but derive their dramatic force from a Classical dignity and restraint.

The son of a musician, Cherubini studied under Giuseppi Sarti, noted composer of opera and religious music. The bulk of Cherubini’s early work consists of sacred music, but he later turned most of his attention to the musical stage, writing 15 Italian and 14 French operas. In 1786 he settled in France, and in 1795 he became an inspector of the newly established Paris Conservatory. He found little favour with Napoleon, but with the restoration of the French monarchy in 1816 he became music director of the royal chapel of Louis XVIII. In 1822 he was made director of the Conservatory, a position that gave him great influence over the younger generation of composers.

Cherubini presents the paradox of an innate conservative compelled to function in an era that was politically and musically revolutionary. He was trained in the traditions of the opera seria, the aristocratic style of 18th-century opera, and his earlier works, including those written as director of the Italian opera house in Paris, the Théâtre de Monsieur, retain that style’s heroic and aristocratic grandeur. His later works, however, especially those in French, follow the operatic reforms of Christoph Gluck (1714–87) in seeking subjects relevant to a changing world. The heroism of aristocrats becomes the nobility of ordinary men and women. Even in operas that dealt with subjects from classical antiquity, such as Médée (1797), he reveals a concern for human traits. The opera that inaugurated his new style was Lodoïska (1791). It moved away from the emphasis on the solo voice found in opera seria to give new scope to ensembles and choruses and a fresh dramatic importance to the orchestra. He thus forged a link between the older style and the grand opera of 19th-century France.

Luigi Cherubini

In his harmonies, rhythms, and use of musical form, he remained in the Classical idiom and did not attempt the incipient Romantic style. Those who did, however, were influenced by his operas. Before writing Fidelio, Beethoven (who regarded Cherubini as his greatest contemporary) studied the score of a Cherubini opera with a similar “rescue” theme: Les Deux Journées (1800; The Two Days, also known as The Water Carrier from its German title, Der Wasserträger). This opera is considered by many to be Cherubini’s masterpiece.

In later life he turned to church music. Works such as his Mass in F Major (1809) and his two requiems, especially that in D minor, for male voices (1836), are characterized by a Classical lucidity combined with a sense of religious grandeur. The earlier requiem, in C minor, was singled out for praise by Beethoven, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms.

Cherubini wrote several treatises, including the celebrated Cours de contrepoint et de fugue (1835; “Course in Counterpoint and Fugue”), which is far more conservative musically than Cherubini’s actual music.

Long eclipsed by Beethoven and other less musically conservative composers of his time, Cherubini became the focus of renewed interest with modern revivals of such works as his opera Médée and his Requiem in D Minor.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Title page of the first edition of Cherubini's Médée, full score, 1797.

Born in Florence, Cherubini revealed his musical gifts early; by the age of 18 be had written 35 compositions, including a cantata performed in the cathedral of Florence to honour the future emperor Leopold II. Suitably impressed, Leopold granted funds for the young composer to study in Milan under the leading opera composer Giuseppe Sarti.

Cherubim's first opera, Quinto Fabio, was performed in 1780 but met with little response. He set his sights on London, and wrote La finta principessa in 1 785 and Giulio Sabino in 1786 for the King's Theatre, earning the respect of both the intelligentsia and the English royal circle. While the theatre was in summer recess, he visited Paris, where he was presented to the French queen, Mane Antoinette. He settled in the city and with the librettist Marmontel created his first French opera, Demophon performed in December 1788 without great success.

Over the next few years Cherubini conducted a number of operas for an Italian opera company in Pans started by the queen's hairdresser. He introduced changes to the orchestra and intensified the dramatic action, mirroring the temperament of a society in the throes of revolution. The theatre group broke up in 1792 and Cherubim spent the next year in the Normandy countryside working on Eliza.

Returning to an ever more turbulent Paris, Cherubim was eventually offered a post at the newly established Institut National de Musique, which two years later became the Conservatoire. He wrote several more operas, including in 1797 Medee, based on the myth of Medea, who after rejection by Jason murdered her own children. The main focus of the opera is the psychological torment of Medea, who dominates the stage in a display notable for the huge range, both in pitch and dynamics, of her vocal part.

Cherubim moved to Vienna in 1805, where he received the praise of both Haydn and Beethoven. When Napoleon marched into the city in 1809, to Cherubim's surprise the Emperor requested his return to Pans: Cherubim complied. His Requiem in С minor was later composed at the request of the government to commemorate the anniversary of the execution of Louis XVI. The work was first performed in 181 6 and was much admired by Beethoven, who preferred it to the more famous Requiem by Mozart. It has no soloists but its bare choral writing is lifted by colourful orchestration.

Relations with Napoleon soured, however, when the Emperor found fault with one of Cherubini's compositions. Cherubim's retort - "Your Majesty knows no more about it than I about a battle" -resulted in his losing his official post. Temporarily abandoning music, he retired to the chateau of the Prince of Chimay, where he studied painting and botany. However, the local church's need for a new Mass tempted him to begin composing again, and the resultant Mass was a resounding success. In 1822 he became director of the revitalized Conservatoire, a post he held for almost 20 years. After 1835. when he composed another Requiem, Cherubim concentrated on teaching, his pupils including Halevy and Auber. He died in 1842.


Portrait by J. D. Ingres (Louvre).
The crowning Muse displeased Cherubini and is blacked out in some copies.

Orchestral music

Overture in G (1815)
Symphony in D major (1815)
Marche funèbre (1820)

Chamber music

String Quartet No. 1 in E-flat (1814)
String Quartet No. 2 in C (1829) - transcription of Symphony in D major with new second movement
String Quartet No. 3 in D minor (1834)
String Quartet No. 4 in E (1835)
String Quartet No. 5 in F (1835)
String Quartet No. 6 in A minor (1837)
String Quintet (2 violins, viola, 2 cellos) in E minor (1837)

Masses and sections of the mass

Five masses (written 1773–1776, lost)
Messe solennelle brève in B-flat (1805, dubious)
Credo a capella for eight voices and organ (1806)
Mass in A for three voices (1809, dubious)
Messe de Chimay in F (1809)
Missa solemnis in D minor (1811) per il Principe Esterházy
Mass in C (1816)
Credo in D (1816)
Requiem in C minor for mixed chorus (1816) in memory of Louis XVI
Missa solemnis in E (1818)
Mass in G (1819) for the Coronation of Louis XVIII
Mass in B-flat (1821, dubious)
Messe solennelle in A for the Coronation of Charles X (1825)
Requiem in D minor for male chorus (1836) written for his own funeral

Motets and other choral works

Cantata Hymne au printemps ("Hymn to Spring") (1815)
Hymne du Panthéon
38 motets

Il Giulio Sabino
Ifigenia in Aulide
Le congrès des rois
Eliza, ou Le voyage aux glaciers du Mont Saint Bernard
L'hôtellerie portugaise
La punition
La prisionnière
Les deux journées, ou Le porteur d'eau
Anacréon ou L'amour fugitif
Le crescendo
Les Abencérages, ou L'étendard de Grenade
Luigi Cherubini - Symphony in D major - Vienna symphony orchestra - Carlo Zecchi 1957
1957 LP transferred by PG.
Wiener Symphoniker
Vienna symphony orchestra
Luigi Cherubini (8 or 14 September 1760 -- 15 March 1842)
Carlo Zecchi (8 July 1903 -- 31 August 1984)
Luigi Cherubini - String Quartet No.1 in E-flat major (1814)
String Quartet No.1 in E-flat major (1814)

Mov.I: Adagio - Allegro moderato 00:00
Mov.II: Larghetto sans lenteur 11:58
Mov.III: Scherzo: Allegretto moderato 20:51
Mov.IV: Finale: Allegro assai 27:28

Ensemble: Quartetto David

Luigi Cherubini - Hymne Funèbre sur la mort du Général Hoche (1797)
Hymne Funèbre sur la mort du Général Hoche (1797)

Libretto: Marie-Joseph Chénier

Chorus & Orchestra: Coro & Orchestra della RTSI

Conductor: Herbert Handt

Luigi Cherubini "Overture" Der Wasserträger
Orchestra of Radio Stuttgart
Hans Müller-Kray, conductor
Stuttgart, 06.&.07. XI. 1962
R. Muti conducts Cherubini Mass in G major for the coronation of Luis XVIII
Messa Solenne in Sol maggiore per l'Incoronazione di Luigi XVIII

00:00 - Kyrie
07:26 - Gloria
19:53 - Credo
31:54 - Sanctus & O Salutaris
38:34 - Agnus Dei

Luigi Cherubini Messe de Chimay F major , Piquemal
Luigi Cherubini Messe de Chimay F major
Michel Piquemal, conductor
Gloria 8:56
Credo 28:44
Sanctus 51:58
Agnus Dei 1:01:35
Luigi Cherubini - Démophon - Ouverture
Démophon, tragédie lyrique in three acts, first performance 5 December 1788, Grand Opéra

Libretto: Jean François Marmontel after P. Metastasio


Orchestra: Orchestra Dell' Accademia Nazionale Di Santa Cecilia

Conductor: Myung-Whun Chung

Luigi Cherubini - Anacréon - Ouverture
Anacréon, ou L'Amour fugitif, Opéra-ballet in two acts, first performance 4 October 1803, Grand Opéra, Paris.

Libretto: C. R. Mendouze


Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Conductor: Herbert von Karajan

Cherubini Ali Babà Ouverture - Toscanini NBC 1949
Luigi Cherubini - Lodoïska - Ouverture
Lodoïska, heroic comedy in three acts, first performance 18 July 1791, Théâtre Feydeau, Paris.

Libretto: Claude-François Fillette after J.-B. Louvet de Couvrais Les Amours du Chevalier Faublas.


Orchestra: Zürcher Kammerorchester

Conductor: Howard Griffiths

Luigi Cherubini - "Requiem C minor" - Vittorio Gui
Requiem in C minor by Luigi Cherubini
composed for the anniversary of the death of Louis XVI
Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro della RAI di Roma
Vittorio Gui, conductor
Roma 1960
Luigi Cherubini - "Requiem in do minore" - Riccardo Muti
Ravenna Festival
Le vie dell'amicizia
greek subtitles

Orchestra Giovanile "Luigi Cherubini"
Orchestra Giovanile Italiana
four choirs
conductor: Riccardo Muti

President of the Republic of Slovenia: Dr Danilo Türk
President of the Republic of Croatia: Dr Ivo Josipović
President of the Italian Republic: Giorgio Napolitano

Piazza Unità d'Italia
Trieste 2010

Luigi Cherubini : Requiem in re minore (I Introitus , Kyrie e Graduale)
Requiem (n.2) in re minore per coro maschile e orchestra (1836) I : Introitus, Kyrie e Graduale
Orchestra e Coro Filarmonia Céca, direttore Igor Markevitch
Luigi Cherubini : Requiem in re minore ( II Dies irae )
Orchestra e Coro Filarmonia Céca, direttore Igor Markevitch
Luigi Cherubini : Requiem in re minore (III Offertorio e Sanctus)
Requiem (n.2) in re minore per coro maschile e orchestra (1836) III) Offerorio e Sanctus
Orchestra e Coro Filarmonia Céca, direttore Igor Markevitch
Luigi Cherubini: Capriccio ou Etude per il fortepiano
Capriccio ou Etude per il fortepiano (1789)
Pietro Spada, fortepiano
Luigi Cherubini - In Paradisum (1807)
Chorus: Chorus Musicus

Orchestra: Das Neue Orchester

Conductor: Christoph Spering

"Medee" - 1797

Médée is a French language opéra-comique by Cherubini Luigi. The libretto by François-Benoît Hoffmann (Nicolas Étienne Framéry) was based on Euripides' tragedy of Medea and Pierre Corneille's play Médée.

The opera was premiered on 13 March 1797 at the Théâtre Feydeau, Paris. It met with a lukewarm reception and was not immediately revived.

During the nineteenth- and most of the twentieth-century, it was usually performed in Italian translation as Medea, with the spoken dialogue replaced by recitatives not authorised by the composer. More recently, opera companies have returned to Cherubini's original version.

The long-lost final aria, which Cherubini appears to have blanked out in his original manuscript, was discovered by researchers from the University of Manchester and Stanford University by employing x-ray techniques to uncover the blackened out areas of Cherubini's manuscript.


Act 1
Outside the palace of King Créon

Dircé is preparing for her wedding to Jason. However, with Médée's help, he had stolen the golden fleece and, in doing so, Médée had betrayed her family and established a relationship with him, the result of which was her two children.

  Although Jason had since abandoned Médée, she reappears and demands that he return to her. Jason refuses and Médée curses him, swearing vengeance.

Act 2
Inside the palace

Despairing, Médée is encouraged to leave the city by her slave, Néris. However, Créon appears and orders that Médée leave. She asks for one more day with her children and, after the king agrees, she appears to be calmer and gives Néris two wedding presents to take to her rival.

Act 3
Between the palace and the temple

Néris brings the two children out to where Médée is waiting. Sounds of lamentation are heard from within the palace and it is discovered that one of Médée's wedding presents has poisoned Dircé. An angry crowd gathers and Néris, Médée, and the children take refuge in the temple. The two women reappear with Médée grasping a blood-stained knife with which she has killed her two children. The temple, to which Médée returns, goes up in flames.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Medea ( Medee ) - Luigi Cherubini - 1968
Medea - Leyla Gencer
Glauce - Daniela Mazzucato (Meneghini)
Neris - Giovanna Fioroni
Giasone - Aldo Bottion
Creonte - Ruggero Raimondi
Capitano - Alessandro Maddalena
Prima Ancella - Rina Pallini
Seconda Ancella - Anna Lia Bazzani

Conductor - Carlo Franci
Orchestra - Teatro La Fenice di Venezia
Chorus - Teatro La Fenice di Venezia

Cherubini - Medea (Antonacci, Filianoti, Forte, Mingardo; Pido) (English, Russian subs)
Cond. - Evelino Pido
Anna Caterina Antonacci - Medea
Giuseppe Filianoti - Giasone
Cinzia Forte - Glauce
Sara Mingardo - Neris
Giovanni Battista Parodi - Creonte
Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Regio di Torino
Medea - Pier Paolo Pasolini ( Película completa)
Luigi Cherubini - Medea (1797) - Aria for Neris - "Solo un pianto" (Teresa Berganza)
Sara Mingardo, Cherubini, Medea, "Solo un pianto"
Torino, Teatro Regio, 2008
Direction : Evelino Pidò
Medea : Anna Caterina Antonacci
Neris : Sara Mingardo
Luigi Cherubini, Medea, "Quando già corona amor..."
Maria Callas - "Numi, venite a me, inferni Dei!" (Medea)
Maria Callas - "Numi, venite a me, inferni Dei!" from "Medea" by Luigi Cherubini
Live from Covent Garden Theatre - London June 30th, 1959 - Conductor Nicola Rescigno

Numi venite a me, inferni Dei!
Voi tutti che aiutaste il mio voler!
La vostra forza ancor m'assista,
Voi l'opra mia compier dovete.
Distenda in ciel la nera morte il velo,
E popol strugga
E re in sua rovina orrenda!
O cari figli, strazio mio supremo,
Ch'io sacro qui
Dell'odio all'altre Dive,
Non debba io mai il sangue vostro espiar!
Si! Vostro padre fu che v'uccise!
Reietto in terra il vil,
Lo sperda il ciel,
S'appressan, ahimè! Quale tormento!
Il cor di madre batte nel mio petto.
Natura, or tu invano parli a me.
Morir dovran, vita è a lor negata!
Votati son dell'atra
Erinni al nume!
Il suo volere sol comanda in me!

Finale MEDEA (Cherubini) MARIA CALLAS - Firenze 1953
0:00 E che? Io son Medea
6:40 Tu Glauce piangi sol, spietato!...Atre furie

Firenze, 7.5.1953
MEDEA di Luigi Cherubini
Finale dell'opera.
Dir. V.Gui
Callas, Guichandut, Barbieri, Petri, Tucci

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