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François de Fossa, Louis Picquot and the transmission of Luigi Boccherini’s guitar quintets

Rudolf Rasch, François de Fossa, Louis Picquot and the transmission of Luigi Boccherini’s guitar quintets, Early Music, Volume 50, Issue 1, February 2022, Pages 77–96, https://doi.org/10.1093/em/caac008

Boccherini’s eight guitar quintets g.445–53 are among the composer’s best-known works. Nonetheless, the history of the presently preserved manuscripts is far from clear. The Marquis de Benavente, for whom they were written, must have had a manuscript (now lost) containing presumably twelve such works, of which three were published, arranged for double-viola string quintet, in Bordeaux in 1817. A vital role in the transmission of the works is also played by a manuscript including eight quintets copied in Madrid from the marquis’s manuscript by the soldier-musician François de Fossa. Until now it has been generally assumed that Fossa’s 1811 manuscript can be identified with a manuscript now in the Library of Congress in Washington. However, the Washington manuscript differs from the description that Fossa gives of his 1811 manuscript in several important ways. Closer inspection tells us that the Washington manuscript, although indeed copied by Fossa, must have been made later—perhaps around 1825—probably with the intention that it would serve as copy for a printed edition. While preparing his Notice sur la vie et les oeuvres de Luigi Boccherini, Louis Picquot contacted Fossa in 1847, and Fossa sent the manuscript to Picquot, probably again hoping that it could be published. It remained in Picquot’s library, however, and was purchased in 1922 by the Library of Congress from the Berlin antiquarian bookseller Leo Liepmanssohn. Another important source for Boccherini’s guitar quintets, a manuscript now in the Bavarian State Library in Munich, contains copies of guitar quintets acquired by Picquot via other routes. From the histories and the contents of the preserved sources of the quintets it can be concluded that Boccherini wrote twelve such quintets, of which nine are preserved today.

François de Fossa, Louis Picquot and the transmission of Luigi Boccherini’s guitar quintets

 

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