Andrea Luchesi – The Composer That Time Forgot

Chiara Beebe gives us an insight into the life of Andrea Luchesi...
In musical history there exists a long line of composers who are remembered and treasured today for their compositions and role in the development of music. But how and why did we come to know and remember these musicians and is our depiction of musical development accurate? Many would say that these composers are famous because of their talent and influence. While this is partly true, what about the other musicians who may have been similarly skilled and influential but whom time has forgotten? Everyone is familiar with Mozart and Beethoven – but has anyone heard of Andrea Luchesi, for whom Mozart himself wrote a cadenza only recently discovered?

Luchesi (Luchese, Lucchesi, Luckesi) was born in Motta di Livenza on 23rd May 1741 and died in Bonn in the spring of 1801. His life can be seen minimally in two sections: firstly, his apprenticeship in Venice, where his extraordinary talent allowed for a rich network of contacts and he built his foundations as a composer of sacred music and opera as well as playing the organ and harpsichord; and secondly, his time spent in Bonn, as the Kapellmeister (a title the young Mozart desired). The predecessor to this position was in fact Beethoven’s grandfather and thanks to Luchesi’s work there, the Chapel in Bonn became renowned as one of the best in Germany. In the course of his life Luchesi wrote a variety of works including, but not limited to, religious compositions, operas, symphonies and works for piano, organ and harpsichord.

It may seem that there is nothing exceptional about Luchesi or his influence, but in fact his life and legacy is filled with mystery. Pianist Roberto Plano has said of Luchesi: “one cannot help but wonder how a composer of this level could be unknown to musicians studying 18th century music… It is impossible not to hear elements (…) that could easily be the precursor to the great Beethoven.” Indeed, this is the theory of musicologist and Luchesi ambassador Giorgio Taboga. He has proposed the theorem that there are no s elf-taught geniuses and therefore when an artist produces work which is at an academic level higher than their documented studies, either the tutor has been hidden or the works were not written by that composer.

In this instance, the first case is suggested to belong to Ludwig van Beethoven and the proposed teacher is Luchesi himself. Taboga isn’t alone in believing that Luchesi was Beethoven’s teacher during his time in Bonn; at a Beethoven meeting in July 1999, Dr Luigi della Croce also pointed out that Luchesi is the only feasible teacher who could provide an explanation for Beethoven’s greatness. After all, evidence exists, in the form of letters, to show that Luchesi learned how to resolve musical dilemmas from mathematical theorists Riccati and Vallotti whose teachings are believed to have been passed on to Beethoven, Reicha (the teacher of Liszt, Gounod and Berlioz) and other pupils.

In the second scenario, where works are wrongly attributed, we can see the ‘Weiner Klassik’ figures. As we know, Haydn can attribute a lot of his fame to Durazzo’s advertising operation and in those days copyright didn’t exist as we know it. While 256 symphonies were attributed to his name, today there are only 104 and it is believed that these others belong to the likes of Luchesi and Sammartini. Whether true or not, it cannot be denied that the role Luchesi played in making Germany aware of Italian music was obviously extremely important.

Recently, while pianist Roberto Plano was preparing two keyboard concertos by Luchesi, he discovered a cadenza for the concerto in F major written by Mozart, specifically for Luchesi’s piece. This amazing discovery confirmed that Luchesi was held in high esteem by his contemporaries and had never been performed in modern times. So Plano learned it and recorded it with Italian record label Concert Classics. Concerto Classics is an independent Italian record label specialised in musicians and music of Italy. The principle objective of Concerto Classics since the beginning, has been the development of Italian composers, instruments and performers. Above all they strive to discover new repertoire which may have been completely forgotten, often presented as world premieres. It is no surprise therefore that they have embarked on a journey of discovery of Andrea Luchesi alongside Roberto Plano.

You can discover more about Luchesi and purchase these world premiere recordings at Concerto Classics’ new website: www.concertoclassics.it.


Extracts of accompanying booklets from Concerto Classics’ productions – by Bruno Belli and Roberto Plano
Interview with Roberto Plano
Transcript of a presentation given by Giorgio Taboga, ‘A case of damnation personae: Andrea Luchesi, and his role in the birth of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven myths’
Information on Concerto Classics website: www.concertoclassics.it
Author: Chiara Beebe
Comments [1]
John Wilson - 2015-04-18 13:25
Thanks for the article; Plano is one of my favorite pianists! But I must point out that the portrait you show above is not of Luchesi, but of Christian Gottlob Neefe.
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