The pages displayed here contain the first two movements of the
third of the eleven sonatas, in C major. The first movement, maestoso
assai, is stately and slow, with highly decorated solo passages.
Its final dominant chord introduces the much faster allegro.
The undated but almost certainly 18th-century manuscript is the
work of a Venice firm of professional copyists, and it is likely
that the composer had many of his works produced in this way for
sale or for presentation to friends and patrons. Much of Boccherini's
work was published in his lifetime, but six of these sonatas have
evidently not been published. A gold-tooled inscription on the front
cover of the manuscript reads 'The Dutchess of Hamilton', a title
which Susan assumed after 1819 when her husband inherited the dukedom.
If a cellist, Duchess Susan would have had to have been reasonably
accomplished to have played these sonatas. She certainly owned a
piano but the solo parts, which are written mainly in the cello
C-clef (the present-day tenor clef), could not be read easily by
a pianist, though realisation of the unfigured bass line would not
be a problem for an experienced keyboard player. The musicianship
and knowledge of harmony which this required was not normally part
of a lady's musical education, so perhaps unsurprisingly, the pages
of this manuscript show little sign of the wear and tear of practical
use. For Duchess Susan it may well have remained a handsomely bound
(or re-bound) collector's item and a memento of her father's friendship