Ridolfo Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805) was born into a musical family in Lucca, Italy in 1743: he was the third child of Leopoldo Boccherini, a cellist and double-bass player, and the brother of Giovanni Gastone Boccherini, a poet and dancer who wrote librettos for Antonio Salieri and Joseph Haydn.
In 1757 Luigi Boccherini and his father both went to Vienna, where the court employed them as musicians in the Burgtheater.
In 1761 Boccherini went to Madrid, entering in 1770 the employ of Infante Luis Antonio of Spain (1727–1785), younger brother of King Charles III of Spain. He would compose and play at the court of Don Luis for more than 20 years.
Boccherini fell on hard times following the deaths of his Spanish patron (1785), his two wives (1785 and 1805), and his four daughters (1796, 1802 and 1804). He died in Madrid in 1805, survived by two sons.