Luigi Boccherini was born into the family of singer and dou- ble-bassist Leopoldo Boccherini. Numerous sisters all became bal- 5 lerinas (his nephew was the renowned choreographer Salvatore Viganò), except one who opted for a singing career. Elder brother Giovanni Gastone was also a ballet dancer. Later he successfully trained for a new occupation as librettist, working with Salieri and writing the text for Haydn’s oratorio ‘The Return of Tobias’. Luigi may have selected a different profession due to a limp. He was the only member of the family prepared to follow in his father’s footsteps, taking lessons in singing and cello playing from an early age.
Luigi Boccherini became well-known as a virtuoso musician when he was still a child. In those days cellists had few opportu- nities to play as a soloist. Nonetheless Boccherini made his debut at the age of 13 with a concert in his hometown of Lucca, under the patronage of local maestro di capella Giacomo Puccini (a forefather of the great composer). A year later Luigi performed in Vienna and then in a number of Italian cities, in both orchestras and chamber ensembles. For six months he played with his friend the violinist Filippo Manfredi, in a quartet that also includ- ed Pietro Nardini and Giuseppe Cambini. They went down in his- tory as the first string quartet to give public concerts.