Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757).

Domenico Scarlatti was born in Naples in 1685 (the same year as Bach and HaŽndel), and died in Madrid in 1757, acclaimed as one of the most important 18th century keyboard composers, peer to Bach and Couperin.

His first musical formation he attained it from his father, Alessandro Scarlatti, and after that from composers Pasquini and Gasparini. Cardinal Ottoboni, in the meantime, became his patron, and in 1709, when he meets HaŽndel, he is proposed a competition with the famous german composer. Due to the virtuosism of both composers, the competition ended up in a tie up.

Later on, he became "maestro di capella" (chapel master) to the queen of Poland, and for her he composed several operas. In the meantime, he moved to the portuguese court, remaining in Lisbon for 9 years, as harpsichord teacher to king John the 5th's daughter, Maria-Barbara, and then in 1729 he accompanies her to Madrid, when his pupil marries the king of Spain, remaining there untill the end of his life.

In fact, Scarlatti is one of the great, if not the greatest of virtuose of the late baroque period. The sonatas that he would compose in Spain are a testimony of his great composition skills and execution, and in them he innovates in a way never seen before, introducing keyboard abilities such as crossed hands, allowing more freedom of composition and execution to future composers.

His music is extremely inventive, and his keyboard sonatas are dense auditive experiences, due to it's complexity. A contemporary of Scarlatti described his music as the sound of a thousand devils inside a harpsichord.

 

Reccomended recordings:

"555 sonatas": Ross, Erato.

"30 sonatas": Puyana, Harmonia Mundi. 

 

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