All of Carlo Graziani's published sonatas for cello and basso, issued in three sets of six, were written during the second half of the eighteenth century, the heyday of the galant sonata. While quite similar in structure and style, these works can be distinguished on the basis of probable function-personal promotion, pedagogy, or performance. Further distinction is achieved if one considers the intended performer, the dedicatee, and the likely place of use-public or private. The technically difficult sonatas of opus 1 require a professional musician, perhaps Graziani himself. Opus 2, with its less demanding cello part, easily satisfies the needs of the amateur music maker-technically accessible and musically appealing to one with limited ability. In each case, Graziani chose to dedicate the publication to potential benefactors, Michael Kazimierz Oginski (opus 1) and Maximilien Joseph III (opus 2), members of the European nobility with whom he had no known connection. Thus, although the works filled markedly different needs and functions, Graziani may well have considered them as a means of demonstrating his versatility as a composer of cello sonatas for the public concert stage and the private home. Opus 3, dedicated to Graziani's final patron (and former student), Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia, is an interesting mix. Written expressly with the then crown prince in mind, these sonatas are designed for the personal use of an advanced amateur who routinely took part in music-making sessions with other court musicians. These sonata collections, written at different points in Graziani's life and for a variety of reasons, serve as a set of musical snapshots of his career and the decisions he made in order to further it.

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