A Minuet (or Menuet) is a slow but elegant and graceful dance of French origin. It was extremely popular amongst the European aristocracy until the late 18th century. Often minuets were incorporated into keyboard and ensemble suites – and here the Menuet (and Trio) forms the third movement of Boccherini’s String Quintet in E Major (Op. 11, No. 5), scored for two violins, viola, and two cellos. Boccherini ‘s patron at the time was Don Lui (brother of King Charles III of Spain) who also employed the Font String Quartet. They performed many of Boccherini’s works and occasionally he joined the quartet as an additional cellist to form a quintet.
Written in 1771 the Menuet has become Boccherini’s most famous work. Indeed it is also known as The Celebrated Minuet and is frequently performed as a standalone piece. The Menuet has been arranged many times for all manner of different instrument combinations and it has been used extensively in popular media including movies (as diverse as The Ladykillers, The Blues Brothers and This is Spinal Tap), television and video games.