Sammartini and Boccherini: Continuity and Change in the Italian Instrumental Tradition of the Classic Period

Although Giovanni Battista Sammartini was 43 years older than Luigi Boccherini, both worked in similar instrumental genres and shared such stylistic features as intense lyricism in slow movements, sensitivity to texture, sonority and harmonic color, and use of unconventional key relationships. Among Boccherini’s innovations is his extensive use of cyclic form, which is examined here in the context of his symphonies. This technique involves the recurrence of themes, of melodic and rhythmic figures, of slow introductions before the finale, and of the second part of the first movement in place of the finale.

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