Domenico Scarlatti

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Domenico Scarlatti, Portrait of Domingo Antonio Velasco (1738)

Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti (also: Domingo Escarlate (Portuguese) or Domingo Escarlatti (Spanish); born October 26, 1685 in Naples , † July 23, 1757 in Madrid ) was an Italian composer and harpsichordist. Its main importance lies in the sonatas for harpsichord , which are among the most original of their genre in the 18th century.


Domenico Scarlatti was the sixth of ten children of the then famous and important opera composer Alessandro Scarlatti and his wife Antonia Anzalone. His older brother Pietro Filippo Scarlatti was also a musician. Nothing is known about other teachers, but he could also have had lessons from Francesco Gasparini and Bernardo Pasquini . As early as 1701, the sixteen-year-old Domenico was active as an organist and composer for the court orchestra of the Spanish viceroy in Naples . From 1702 he and his father were in the service of Prince Ferdinando de 'Medici in Florence . His first operas were performed in Naples from 1703, including L'Ottavia ristituita .

Between 1705 and 1709 Domenico was in Venice ; details of this stay are not known, but he may have had contact with Gasparini and Vivaldi during this time . In 1709 he took up a job in Rome with the exiled Polish Queen Maria Casimira Sobieska , for whose private stage he wrote six operas, as well as at least one cantata and one oratorio over the following years . He also took part regularly in the Accademie poetico-musicali of the highly educated Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni , where Arcangelo Corelli , Pasquini and Georg Friedrich Händel frequented. Handel and Scarlatti are said to have become friends despite the rivalry, and later only spoke of each other with respect; Scarlatti is said to have crossed himself every time Handel's name was mentioned. According to an anecdote by Mainwaring , they fought a competition in Rome in which Handel won the organ, while Scarlatti won the harpsichord. Scarlatti already played keyboard instruments in Venice with ten fingers and impressed the audience with his virtuosity . The English composer Thomas Roseingrave said:

"He felt as if ten times a hundred devils had sat, never before had he heard such an adorable game."

- Thomas Roseingrave

On December 22, 1713 Scarlatti was maestro di capella at the Capella Giulia of the Vatican . At that time he composed mainly operas and sacred vocal works, only a few of which have survived, including a masterful 10-part Stabat Mater . In a strange document dated January 28, 1717, Domenico had himself officially assured of independence from his father, who apparently wanted to dominate his career and control his life.

Domenico Scarlatti, excerpt from the cantata Ink a note di sangue

As early as 1714, in addition to his other obligations, he accepted a job with the Portuguese ambassador Marquês de Fontes, who was one of the most affluent envoys in Rome. This contact led probably to the most important and schicksalhaftesten turning point in his life: in 1719 moved Scarlatti to Portugal and was in Lisbon music teacher and Kapellmeister at the court of the pious and waste-addicted King John V , let the recruit a number of papal singers and copy the choir books of the Vatican . Scarlatti mainly had to deliver sacred vocal works and also wrote some secular serenas . He also taught the king's younger brother, Dom António (1695–1757), and the asthmatic Portuguese Princess Maria Barbara de Bragança , who turned out to be a gifted music lover, on the harpsichord. Documents and musical works from the Lisbon creative period are no longer available, as almost all of the sheet music in the libraries there was lost in the earthquake of 1755 . During his time in Portugal, Scarlatti made three trips to Italy: 1724, 1725 shortly before his father's death, and 1728. On his second trip he met Johann Joachim Quantz and Johann Adolph Hasse , who were in Italy at the time as a student of Alessandro. During the 1728 trip, 42-year-old Domenico married 16-year-old Maria Caterina Gentili, with whom he would have five children.

When Maria Bárbara married the Spanish heir to the throne Don Fernando of Asturias (from 1746 King Ferdinand VI ) in 1729 , Scarlatti followed her to her new home. They first went to Andalusia, where the court initially traveled back and forth between Seville , the Sierras, Granada , Cádiz and other port cities. The princess' harpsichords were carried on the back of mules. From October 1730 to May 16, 1733, the Alcázares Reales in Seville became a permanent residence. Then the court moved north to the area around Madrid, where, depending on the season, it alternated between the castles of Buen Retiro , El Pardo , Aranjuez , La Granja and El Escorial .

Louis-Michel van Loo : The Royal Family of Spain (1743), in the background on the gallery some court musicians, second lady from left (in blue): Maria Bárbara, standing next to her: her husband Fernando, sitting next to it: King Philip V (second Lord from left), in the middle (next to the crown): Queen Elisabetta Farnese
Sonata in F minor by Domenico Scarlatti (without repetitions) on a harpsichord, Kirkpatrick 466, Kirnberger tuning

Very little is known of Scarlatti's life after he moved to Spain . One does not even know his exact position at court; it is not mentioned in documents on opera performances. He was probably still in the "private" service of Maria Bárbara and seems to have devoted himself practically exclusively to the harpsichord and the composition of his sonatas, in relative seclusion, far from his Italian homeland, and influenced by Spanish music. Some cantatas have also been preserved.

Other important musicians at the Spanish court of his time were the court orchestra masters José de Torres (c. 1670–1738) and Antonio de Literes (1673–1747). In 1738, the French-born Italian Francesco Corselli (aka Courcelle) became "maestro de capilla", and José de Nebra (1702–1768) was Corselli's first organist and assistant from 1751. The young monk Antonio Soler , who may have been a pupil of Scarlatti, also lived and worked in the Escorial . The most famous of them all was the soprano Farinelli , who lived at court from 1737 and had to sing to the depressed King Philip V every evening. After Philip's death in 1746, Maria Bárbara became Queen of Spain. Since she was a passionate opera lover, Farinelli was in the highest favor, and took care of the opera performances.

Scarlatti made on April 21, 1738 in the Capuchin monastery of San Antonio del Prado with the consent of the Portuguese King John V, the vows as a knight of the Order of Santiago . The 30 essercizi per gravicembalo (= 30 exercises for harpsichord), which Scarlatti subsequently had published, are also dedicated to the king ; they appeared in print in 1739 in London by Adamo Scola, and made him famous all over Europe as a legendary harpsichord virtuoso. The dedication text shows that at least some, if not all of these pieces must have been made in Portugal:

"... They are compositions that were born under the highest auspices of YOUR MAJESTY, in the service of your deservedly fortunate daughter, the PRINCESS OF ASTURIAS, and your most deserving brother, the Infante DON ANTONIO ..."

- Domenico Scarlatti : from the dedication of the "Essercizi" to John V of Portugal, 1739.

The only surviving portrait of Scarlatti by Domingo Antonio Velasco dates from around 1738 and was probably painted on the occasion of his appointment as Knight of Santiago. On May 6, 1739, his first wife, Maria Caterina, died in Aranjuez. Sometime between 1740 and 1742 he married Anastasia Ximénez from Cádiz, with whom he had four more children. Scarlatti drew up his will on October 19, 1749 and on October 3, 1753 he received a complete general indulgence for himself and his family from Pope Benedict XIV . He died on July 23, 1757 in his house at 35 Calle de Leganitos in Madrid and was buried in the Convento de San Norberto , which was demolished in 1864. His grave is therefore no longer preserved.

Very little is known about Scarlatti as a private person. He is said to have been a polite but reserved man; some thought he was a loner. There are rumors that he was a passionate gambler who often ran into huge debts that were generously paid off by his patroness, Queen Maria Bárbara. Maria Bárbara only survived him by a year, she died in 1758.

The sonatas

Domenico Scarlatti, cover of the manuscript volume 1752/1, presumably. formerly owned by Maria Bárbara, Queen of Spain; today in Venice, Bibl. Marciana, (I-Vnm Mss.It.IV.199-213)
Sonata in B minor by Domenico Scarlatti (without repetitions) on a harpsichord, Kirkpatrick 87, Kirnberger tuning

The most important part of Scarlatti's work are his 555 preserved harpsichord sonatas. The Essercizi of 1739 and a few other sonatas published during his lifetime established his fame and influenced the works of other composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach (Fantasia in C minor BWV 906, Goldberg Variations ), Jacques Duphly , Pietro Domenico Paradies or Muzio Clementi . Handel is a special case because he and Scarlatti met personally in their youth and apparently influenced one another somewhat. On the Iberian peninsula, a special 'school' of keyboard virtuosos was established, including Carlos Seixas , Antonio Soler, and José de Nebra.

The unpublished sonatas have not been preserved as autographs , but are only available as copies, which were compiled in different volumes from 1742 and especially during Scarlatti's last years from 1749 to 1757, i.e. apart from stylistic features, they do not give any clear indication of the time of origin. The most important collection of manuscripts is now in the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice (496 sonatas): These 15 volumes in red morocco leather each have the combined coat of arms of the kingdoms of Portugal and Spain on the lid in gold and probably belonged to Queen Maria Bárbara (see Fig. ). They are all dated. Simpler but important manuscripts are in the Biblioteca Palatina (Conservatorio Arrigo Boito) in Parma (463 sonatas), in the University Library of Münster (349 sonatas), and in the library of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna (308 sonatas; formerly owned by Johannes Brahms ).

Ralph Kirkpatrick was the first to notice that in the volumes of Venice and Parma from 1749 almost all of the two sonatas of the same key follow one another, or that they only differ in tone ; there are also extensive similarities between the two manuscript collections (and in some cases other sources as well). A two-movement sonata series is also known from other contemporary composers from the Iberian Peninsula, namely Carlos Seixas and Antonio Soler; The twelve sonatas by Pietro Domenico Paradies, published in 1754, are also in two movements. All three composers are heavily influenced by Scarlatti. Even Luigi Boccherini , who from 1768 worked at the Spanish court, and have known Soler and his music in person must (and perhaps Scarlattisonaten), composed two movements "Quartettini" and "Quintettini".

Overall, Scarlatti's sonatas are extremely diverse in terms of composition. However, there are some basic features:

The sonatas are in two parts, both parts are repeated. If the sonata is in major , the first part mostly modulates from the tonic to the dominant , in the subsequent second part the harmonic progression leads back from the dominant to the tonic. In some major sonatas, however, both parts end in a minor key, while others have a second part that does not begin with the dominant but in a more remote key. If the sonata is in minor, the first part mostly modulates from the tonic to the tonic parallel , the second back to the tonic. A tempo change has been composed within a few sonatas.

Regardless of whether it is a major or minor sonata, the sonatas in the first part have several motifs that often recur in the second part. Often there is motivic work, the harmonic texture is dense and sometimes leads to distant keys. Another characteristic is the use of repetitive structures (repetitions). A number of sonatas seem like archetypes of the piano sonata that was established a few decades later and was further developed in Vienna, for example. Scarlatti's piano work can be ascribed a bridging function between the Baroque and Classical periods because of the change in style to the Sensitive Style . "Wild flowers on the fence of the classic" they are called in a publication by Barbara Zubers.

Scarlatti obviously wrote the sonatas for herself and also as practice and masterpieces for Maria Bárbara. The term “sonata” is to be understood here - in contrast to vocal music - in its original meaning as “sound piece” or “play piece”. In Scarlatti's youth it was common practice to refer to longer works as toccatas , and shorter works, including fugues , as sonatas. It is significant that Scarlatti did not name any of his sonatas "Toccata" and wrote only one series of variations .

"Scarlatti imitated the melody of tunes sung by carriers, muleteers and common people."

"Scarlatti imitated the melody of songs sung by carters, mule drivers and the common people."

- Charles Burney

Apart from these characteristics, the downright experimental nature of many sonatas is striking. In particular, Domenico Scarlatti combined influences of Spanish folk music and Spanish dance forms with his early musical influences to create a personal style. It is amazing how nonchalantly he incorporates folk elements into his sonatas composed for a feudal setting and how he integrates, imitates and transcends such sound experiences.

Domenico Scarlatti, beginning of Sonata K 175 in the manuscript volume 1752/1 by Queen Maria Bárbara, Venice, Bibl. Marciana (I-Vnm Mss.It.IV.199-213)

He also confidently disregarded the conventions of his time, especially when it came to voice guidance. Many of his sonatas are extraordinarily interesting in harmony, he sometimes modulated into keys that are far away (e.g. K 296 or K 490), and also liked to use enharmonic mix-ups (e.g. K 296, K 206). In these matters he was way ahead of his time, and sometimes produced quasi-romantic or quasi-impressionistic effects. In some sonatas there are acciaccatures which, in extreme cases such as the sonatas K 119 (in D) and K 175 (in A; see note example), are reminiscent of clusters of sounds that systematically only found their way into music in the 20th century; The Acciaccatura had been a typical component of baroque harpsichord music long before that, at least around 1660, and played a particularly important role in the Italian harpsichord continuo . Scarlatti does not use any special characters in acciaccatures, such as B. the French d'Anglebert , but writes the notes of the Acciaccatura into the chord. The dissonant notes are usually only struck very briefly and the chords are played arpeggiated. Scarlatti's use of the acciaccatures in the two sonatas K 119 and K 175 mentioned goes far beyond anything that was previously known and produces an almost wild or desolate effect. In K 175, seven tones must be gripped simultaneously in one hand (see note example, bottom line). A later contemporary witness noted the following statement from Scarlatti:

"Scarlatti often said to Herr L'Augier that he knew very well that he had set all the rules of composition in his piano pieces, but asked whether his deviation from these rules offended the ear? and in response to the negative answer he went on to believe that there was almost no other rule to which a man of genius should pay attention than not to displease this, the only sense of which music is the subject. [...] since nature had given him ten fingers and his instrument was for all occupation: he saw no reason why he should not use them all ten. "

- Charles Burney

On the whole, Scarlatti's sonatas are stylistically far removed from the keyboard music of his contemporaries Bach and Handel. Pieces like K 423, K 95 or K 388, to name just three random examples, are absolutely removed from the mainstream of the time and anticipate Mozart, Schubert and Chopin.


On the technical level, Scarlatti enters with wide jumps (e.g. bars 80–99 in K 28), crossing hands (e.g. in bars 6–9 in K 16, bars 22 ff. In K 29 or bars 23 ff . in K 53), fast tone repetitions (e.g. BK 141, or in bars 23–30 of K 211, or bars 13 ff. of K 149), passages in sixths and octaves (e.g. in bars 66–72 in K 44), broken chords and scales at a rapid pace over several octaves (e.g. bar 1 ff. In K 50), arpeggios over up to four octaves (e.g. in bars 30 and 31 in K 107) a new one Level of virtuosity that leaves everything behind that was required of a harpsichordist until then.

Catalog raisonnés

Several authors have compiled catalogs of works. Today, Ralph Kirkpatrick's (abbreviated as K) is used almost consistently for the piano sonatas. He was guided by the dates of the copies that have come down to us and of the few published works. Although this directory is not chronological either, it should represent a step forward compared to collections that are based on stylistic criteria, such as the long-used edition by Alessandro Longo ( Longo directory ); In this, the sonatas do not appear in the order of the manuscripts, but were arranged into suites at Longo's own discretion - and completely contrary to contemporary Italian or Iberian customs - and some of them were shortened and changed by him. The (highly probable) two-movement structure of many sonatas discovered by Kirkpatrick can therefore not be recognized in the Longo edition.

2006 saw Daniel Laumans among of Gaspar Smit (1767-1819) Piano manuscripts scale of Ávila another, previously unknown sonata by Scarlatti: "Sonata / Don Domenico Escarlati / punto alto" and led them in 2007 at the harpsichord again.

Scarlatti's instruments

Unfortunately, nothing is known about Scarlatti's own instruments, but Ralph Kirkpatrick published an inventory of the instruments used by Queen Maria Bárbara when she died. Since she died in 1758, just one year after the composer, this inventory roughly reflects the situation that Scarlatti encountered at court, at least in the last years of his life.

The queen owned twelve keyboard instruments, nine of which were harpsichords, and three Florentine fortepianos , the latter presumably by Christofori or his collaborator and successor Giovanni Ferrini (around 1700–1758). Two of the harpsichords were originally fortepianos, which had been converted into harpsichords, perhaps because of technical defects or because they were not liked. One of the fortepianos and one of the converted instruments only had a small range of four octaves (probably C-c '' ') and could therefore not be used for most of the Scarlatti sonatas. The other two fortepianos had 54 or 56 keys, which corresponds to a range of z. B. AA-d '' 'or GG-d' ''.

The queen owned a presumably two-manual instrument from Flanders with three choirs (presumably 8'8'4 '), the size of which is not mentioned.

Three harpsichords were made of walnut and probably had two manuals, two of them with a normal disposition of 8'8'4 '. The third was an unusually large instrument with four choirs and five registers, one of the registers was probably a lute slide. The exact disposition of this instrument is not known, possible would be: 8'8'8'4 ', or 16'8'8'4', or 8'8'4'4 ', or 8'8'4'2' . This large harpsichord had a range of 56 keys, the other two walnut instruments 56 and 58 keys (possible ranges: e.g. GG-d '' 'and GG-e' ''). Presumably this was the instrument that Farinelli had, as a surprise for the Queen, built by court harpsichord maker Diego Fernández (1703–1775).

The last three harpsichords were made of cedar and cypress wood, like typical Italian instruments. This is also supported by the fact that (at least) one of them only had two choirs (presumably 8'8 '), so it must have been one manual. These three harpsichords were the only instruments of the Queen on which one could play the late Scarlatti sonatas with a range of five octaves, as recorded in volumes VIII to XIII in Venice. It must also be emphasized that such late 5-octave sonatas usually go up to the high g '' '- a tone that did not occur at all on Central European or French instruments at the time, whose range is usually only up to d' '', e '' 'or f' '' went. The high f sharp '' 'and g' '' were tones that only appeared on the Iberian Peninsula and in England (and possibly in Italy) in the middle of the 18th century.

After her death, Maria Bárbara bequeathed some of these instruments to Farinelli, who later took them to Italy and played them to Charles Burney in Bologna . Burney's description of two Spanish harpsichords, apparently of the same type as the last described instruments, is interesting:

“... This grand piano (= harpsichord), which is made in Spain, has more sound than any of the others. His (= Farinellis) third favorite is also a grand piano made in Spain according to his instructions; … With these Spanish grand pianos, all the tones are black and half of them are covered with mother-of-pearl. By the way, they are in the Italian style, everything is made of cedar wood, except for the Sangboden, and they are in a case. "

- Charles Burney : Diary of a musical journey , Hamburg: 1772 (translated by CD Ebeling), pp. 151–152.

Concert maintenance of the sonatas

For a long time, the sonatas were played more as “show pieces”, mostly as concert encores. Some require great virtuosity from the performer, and in order to be able to perform this effectively, they were usually played on modern grand pianos from the 19th century until well into the 20th century . The question that arises later as to whether the original instruments such as harpsichord or fortepiano should not be used for Scarlatti sonatas is of secondary importance today. In performance practice, the ratio of those who use the original instrument to those who prefer the modern concert grand is currently around 1: 3. However, when Scarlatti's sonatas were rediscovered as fully-fledged compositions, especially on the basis of the editorial work of Ralph Kirkpatrick since the 1950s, this was understandably first done on the harpsichord. However, Vladimir Horowitz's early recordings on the modern concert grand in the early 1960s also contributed significantly to this rediscovery. Sonatas by Scarlatti are now part of the repertoire of almost every concert pianist and many harpsichordists.

A first, standard-setting complete recording of the sonatas on Scarlatti's original instrument, the harpsichord , was made in 1988 by the American harpsichordist Scott Ross . Many internationally known pianists have recorded some or even many sonatas on modern concert grand pianos in the last 50 years ; There are currently (December 2019) 557 of the 558 sonatas (including the attributed and problematic ones) recordings by a total of at least 220 concert pianists on sound carriers or on the freely accessible Internet; Some sonatas have up to 40 or more recordings on sound carriers; The front runners are (December 2019) K 27 and K 380 with 48 and 53 interpretations only on the concert grand. There are also numerous recordings of individual sonatas on the harpsichord by internationally renowned artists such as Pierre Hantaï (5 CDs), Andreas Staier (2 CDs), Bertrand Cuiller, Francesco Cera and others. A second complete recording on the harpsichord after Scott Ross is by Richard Lester ; Pieter-Jan Belder has presented a complete recording on three instruments, the harpsichord, the fortepiano and the organ . There is also a complete recording on harpsichord, fortepiano and organ in an Italian joint production by Ottavio Dantone , Emilia Fadini, Marco Farolfi, Maria Cecilia Farina and others (for Stradivarius). Carlo Grante is currently working on a complete recording (but only of the sonatas from the Parma manuscript) on the Bösendorfer concert grand ; it is (December 2019) at K. 513. Another complete recording on the concert grand by Christoph Ullrich has been in the making since spring 2014. Since 2013, Günter Reich has also recorded a complete online recording as a “work in progress”. It is (December 2019) at K. 523. An initiative by several pianists (as of December 2019: 24 pianists with around 359 recordings) in the Czech Republic is also aiming for a complete recording. The Naxos company is planning a complete recording on the concert grand with various pianists, 22 parts of which had been released by December 2019. Thus in December 2019 557 of the 558 sonatas (including the problematic and ascribed) were available, played on the concert grand, on sound carriers since 1946. In addition, there are numerous recordings of individual sonatas on other instruments such as the accordion, harp, guitar, mandolin, etc. , also in string and wind instrumentation. Claudio Colombo recorded 538 sonatas from the Kirkpatrick directory on a Yamaha digital piano in 2003 and posted this work on the Internet. A new complete edition of the sheet music has been published by Casa Ricordi , but is also freely available on the Internet.


Stage design, probably for Amor d'un ombra Act I by Domenico Scarlatti (Rome January 15, 1714), design by Filippo Juvarra
Stage design “Courtyard in a Palace” by Filippo Juvarra , probably for an opera by Domenico Scarlatti

Domenico Scarlatti only created operas in his first creative period in Italy. In Naples, the operas Giustino , Ottavia and a new version by Carlo Francesco Pollarolos Irene were written around 1703/1704 . Scarlatti composed another group of operas from 1711 to 1714 in collaboration with the librettist Carlo Sigismondo Capece and the set designer Filippo Juvarra for the private theater of Queen Maria Casimira of Poland in the Palazzo Zuccari in Rome. These works include Tolomeo , Tetide in Sciro and Amor d'un Ombra . He composed his last operas Ambleto , Dirindira and Berenice between 1715 and 1718 for the Roman Teatro Capranica. Most of Scarlatti's opera compositions have not survived or have only partially survived.

  • L'Ottavia Ristituita al Trono ( Giulio Convò ), melodramma (1703 Naples); 32 solo arias and two duets received
  • Il Giustino (Giulio Convò after Nicolò Beregan ), dramma per musica (1703 Naples); Receive 21 solo arias and three duets
  • L'Irene (Giulio Convò? After Girolamo Frigimelica de 'Roberti), dramma per musica (1704 Naples); 32 arias and one duet received
  • La Silvia (Carlo Sigismondo Capece), dramma pastorale (January 27, 1710 Rome); Music lost
  • Tolomeo et Alessandro, overo La Corona Disprezzata (Carlo Sigismondo Capece), dramma per musica (January 19, 1711 Rome)
  • L'Orlando, overo la Gelosa Pazzia (Carlo Sigismondo Capece after Ludovico Ariosto ), dramma (1711 Rome); Music lost
  • Tetide in Sciro (Carlo Sigismondo Capece), dramma per musica (January 10, 1712 Rome); largely preserved
  • Ifigenia in Aulide (Carlo Sigismondo Capece), dramma per musica (January 11, 1713 Rome); only received one aria
  • Ifigenia in Tauri (Carlo Sigismondo Capece), dramma per musica (1713 Rome); only three arias received
  • Amor d'un Ombra e Gelosia d'un Aura (Carlo Sigismondo Capece), dramma per musica (January 15, 1714 Rome); revised as Narciso ( Paolo Antonio Rolli after Capece, May 30, 1720 London)
  • Ambleto ( Apostolo Zeno and Pietro Pariati ), dramma per musica (Carnival 1715 Rome); only received one aria
  • Dirindina ( Girolamo Gigli ), farsetta per musica (Intermezzo zu Ambleto , 1715 Lucca)
  • Berenice Regina di Egitto overo Le Gare d'Amore, e di Politica ( Antonio Salvi ), dramma per musica (Carnival 1718 Rome); according to the note in the text book music by Domenico Scarlatti and Nicola Antonio Porpora , only five arias survive


  • Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach : Attempt on the true way of playing the piano. Part I: Berlin 1753, Part II: Berlin 1762, facsimile, ed. v. Wolfgang Horn, Kassel et al .: Bärenreiter, 1994.
  • Jane Clark, "Domenico Scarlatti and Spanish Folk Music ", in: Early Music 4, London 1976.
  • Remigio Coli, Luigi Boccherini - La vita e le opere , Lucca: Maria Pacini Fazzi Editore, 2005 (Italian).
  • Hermann Keller: Domenico Scarlatti. A master of the piano. Peters, Leipzig 1958.
  • Ralph Kirkpatrick : Domenico Scarlatti. 2 volumes, New Jersey, 1953 / Munich: Ellermann, 1972.
  • Edward L. Kottick, A History of the Harpsichord , Indiana: University Press, 2003.
  • Stanley Sadie : Domenico Scarlatti. In: The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians . Volume 16, London, 1980, p. 568 ff.
  • Josef Johannes SchmidScarlatti, Domenico. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 8, Bautz, Herzberg 1994, ISBN 3-88309-053-0 , Sp. 1498-1500.
  • Barbara Zuber, Heinrich Schenker, Peter Böttinger: Domenico Scarlatti , series “Music Concepts” Vol. 47, ed. by Heinz Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn. Edition text & kritik GmbH Munich 1987. (In it: Barbara Zuber, “Wilde Blumen am Zaun der Klassik”, pp. 3–39). ISBN 3-88377-229-1

Other sources

A fictional concert, allegedly with: Domenico Scarlatti, Tartini , (Sam) Martini , Lanzetti and Locatelli


  • Pietro Domenico Paradies, Sonate di Gravicembalo (London, 1754), Vol. 1 & 2, ed. v. Hugo Ruf u. Hans Bemmann, Mainz et al .: Schott, 1971.
  • Carlos Seixas, 80 Sonatas para instrumentos de tecla (2nd edição) , 2 vol., Ed. v. Macario Santiago Kastner, Lisbon: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 1992.
  • P. Antonio Soler, Sonatas para instrumentos de tecla , ed.P. Samuel Rubio, Madrid: Union Musical Ediciones SL, ( undated ).

Recordings of vocal works

  • Alessandro, Francesco e Domenico - Polyphonic Music of the Scarlatti family (by Domenico: Missa quatuor vocum "di Madrid" + Magnificat), Ensemble Ex Tempore, Florian Heyerick, published by: Etcetera 2005 (CD)
  • Domenico Scarlatti, Lettere amorose - Cantatas, Sonatas & Operatic Duets , Patrizia Ciofi , Anna Bonitatibus, Il Complesso Barocco, Alan Curtis, published by: Virgin veritas, 2003 (CD).
  • Domenico Scarlatti, Stabat Mater (+ Missa Breve "La Stella", Te Deum, Iste Confessor, Cibavit eos), The Sixteen, Harry Christophers, published by: Collins Classics 1997 (CD).

Web links

Commons : Domenico Scarlatti  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Stage_designs_by_Filippo_Juvarra  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Literature by and about Scarlatti


Complete recordings on the Internet



  1. The Capella Giulia was the Pope's public chapel in St. Peter's Basilica, in contrast to the famous Capella Sistina, which was more like a private chapel.
  2. The unusual line-up is: 4 sopranos, 2 altos, 2 tenors, 2 basses. The exact time of origin is apparently not known, and it cannot be ruled out that it was later, e.g. B. originated in Portugal. Such splendid intellectual compositions also corresponded to the taste of the Portuguese King Johann V. Listening tip: Domenico Scarlatti, Stabat Mater (+ Missa Breve "La Stella", Te Deum, Iste Confessor, Cibavit eos), The Sixteen, Harry Christophers, published by: Collins Classics 1997 (CD).
  3. The exact name is not known, in documents she is also called Anastasia Macarti, Maxarti, or Anastasia Ximenes Parrado.
  4. Musicology, however, is walking in a gray area here, as basically nothing more precise is known about Spanish folk music, or even gypsy or "flamenco" music of the 18th century (e.g. cante jondo and Saetas ). This probably only formed in the 19th century and sounded very different from anything that the modern flamenco lover knows. What one z. B. knows very well, are isolated examples of fandango, the Spanish national dance in the 18th century.
  5. Acciaccatura 'originally means a tone which sounds at the same time as the main tone and is half a tone away from it, the duration of which is much shorter than that of the main tone. The briefly struck tone has a color effect. With Scarlatti, the term 'Acciaccatura' is expanded, with Kirkpatrick it means 'inner pedal and the overlapping of chords'.
  6. Herbert Henck sees the term cluster in relation to Scarlatti and the Acciaccatura rather cautiously in Piano Clusters - History, Theory and Practice of a Sound Design , Lit-Verlag 2004, p. 55: “It is, however, a question of judgment whether one should use the term cluster because if Scarlatti's piano music occasionally includes surprisingly modern harmonies with a cluster-like accumulation of dissonant secondary notes, these can, as Richard Boulanger rightly emphasized, always be explained in the context of the Acciaccatura ('pinching'). " This type of chord breaking, which is peculiar to the whole of the Baroque and is often used impromptu, with the addition of very briefly struck or torn dissonant secondary tones, gives the underlying harmonies a particular sensual charm, and Scarlatti's Sonata in D major ( K 119) or in A minor (K 175). "
  7. It should be noted that these are only the instruments from the Queen's personal possession; but there must have been more at court.
  8. Such early fortepianos were probably used more for accompaniment in chamber music, they also had a relatively delicate sound. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach also mentions this in the foreword to his 1753: Attempt on the true way of playing the piano , Part I: Berlin 1753, Part II: Berlin 1762, facsimile, ed. v. Wolfgang Horn, Kassel et al. Bärenreiter, p. 8.
  9. This could have been a Ruckers or Dulcken harpsichord, but it could also have been a forgery, as it often appeared in France.
  10. The other two cedar instruments are not described in detail.
  11. Even with harpsichords and fortepianos from Mozart's time.
  12. As of June 2017

Individual evidence

  1. A basic introduction is provided by edition text +kritik, Musikkonzepte 47: Domenico Scarlatti , Munich 1986
  2. From the foreword by Ralph Kirkpatrick in Scarlatti: Sixty Sonatas in Two Volumes, edited in chronological order from the manuscript and earliest printed sources with a preface by Ralph Kirkpatrick , Vol. 1, Schirmer's Library of Musical Classics, Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation, p V: "Domenico Scarlatti was without question the most original keyboard composer of his century, but his true originality became first apparent only in later life. […] Only with his definitive departure from Italy in 1719, and after his father's death in 1725 does Domenico Scarlatti appear to have developed the style that has rendered him one of the greatest keyboard composers of all time. "
  3. This and most of the following information comes from the article by Stanley Sadie , Domenico Scarlatti , in: The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians , Vol. 16, London, 1980, pp. 568ff. The then groundbreaking biography of: Ralph Kirkpatrick , Domenico Scarlatti , 2 vols., Munich, 1972 was also used (Sadie's article is also based in many details on Kirkpatrick!).
  4. ^ Stanley Sadie, "Domenico Scarlatti", in: The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians , Vol. 16, London, 1980, pp. 568ff.
  5. ^ Stanley Sadie, "Domenico Scarlatti", in: The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians , Vol. 16, London, 1980, pp. 568ff.
  6. Listening tip: Domenico Scarlatti, Lettere amorose - Cantatas, Sonatas & Operatic Duets , Patrizia Ciofi, Anna Bonitatibus, Il Complesso Barocco, Alan Curtis, published by: Virgin veritas, 2003 (CD).
  7. This is supported by the mention of Don Antonio, who had been a pupil of Scarlatti in Portugal and could not go to Spain, but still lived in Portugal.
  8. "… sono Componimenti nati sotto gli altissimi Auspicj di VOSTRA MAESTÁ in servizio della meritevolmente fortunatissima vostra figlia LA PRINCIPESSA DELLE ASTURIE, e del vostro degnissimo fratello l'Infante DON ANTONIO…."
  9. Numbers K 81 and K 88–91 are for a chamber music ensemble.
  10. BWV 906 is a very unique exception in Bach's work, and a perfectly obvious copy of the 'glowing' style and techniques of some of Scarlatti's Essercizi (No. 12 in g, No. 18 in d). In the Goldberg Variations published in 1742, the virtuoso pieces with large jumps, crossed hands or 'special effects' obviously go back to the Essercizi (Var. 1, 5, 8, 14, 17, 20, 26, 28, 29). Of course, Bach composes more contrapuntal than Scarlatti.
  11. The result is therefore very different from that of the composers, who copied Scarlatti's style and techniques. In the Essercizi of 1739 the numbers 1, 4 and 9 are somewhat reminiscent of Handel.
  12. The composers mentioned were in long-term contact with Scarlatti, and therefore not only knew his playing personally, but above all also much more and later works.
  13. From Seixas z. B. Sonatas 2, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14.15, 17, 20, 21, 26, 30, 31 etc. etc .; in many of these pieces the second movement is a minuet, which is also found in Scarlatti, e.g. BK396-K.397. See: Carlos Seixas, 80 Sonatas para instrumentos de tecla (2nd edição) , 2 vol., Ed. v. Macario Santiago Kastner, Lisbon: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 1992. From Soler z. B. Sonatas 16-17 in Eb, and 18-19 in c. See: P. Antonio Soler, Sonatas para instrumentos de tecla , Vol. 1, ed. P. Samuel Rubio, Madrid: Union Musical Ediciones SL, (n.d.), pp. 60-79.
  14. From Soler z. B. Sonatas 16–17 in Eb, and 18–19 in c (among others). See: P. Antonio Soler, Sonatas para instrumentos de tecla , Vol. 1, ed. P. Samuel Rubio, Madrid: Union Musical Ediciones SL, (n.d.), pp. 60-79.
  15. ^ Pietro Domenico Paradies, Sonate di Gravicembalo (London 1754), Vol. 1 & 2, ed. v. Hugo Ruf u. Hans Bemmann, Mainz et al .: Schott, 1971 (ED 6120 & ED 6121).
  16. He also called these "opere piccole" (small works) in contrast to the "opere grandi" (large works) with mostly four movements. These are works for strings, the first of which came out in 1772 as op.15, others were: op.17, 19, 22, 26, 27, 30, 33, 36, 40, 44, 48, 50, 53. There are also quintettini with flute and strings: op. 17, 19 and 55. Each opus consists of six works. There are also opus numbers where he mixes large and small works. See: Remigio Coli, Luigi Boccherini - La vita e le opere , Lucca: Maria Pacini Fazzi Editore, 2005, pp. 110-111, p. 132, and pp. 273-280.
  17. Barbara Zuber, "Wild Flowers on the Fence of Classical Music", in: Music Concepts , Issue 47, Munich, 1986, pp. 3–39.
  18. (here after: Jane Clark, "Domenico Scarlatti and Spanish Folkmusic", in: Early Music 4, London 1976, p. 19.)
  19. ^ Carl Burney's der Musik Doctors Diary of his musical journeys. Second volume. Through Flanders, the Netherlands and on the Rhine to Vienna. Translated from English. Hamburg, 1773. Bey Bode. , Pp. 183-184.
  20. Karl Heinrich Wörner, Wolfgang Gratzer, Lenz Meierott: History of Music - A study and reference book , Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1993, p. 366.
  21. Klaus Wolters: Handbuch der Klavierliteratur - piano music for two hands , 5th edition, Atlantis Musikbuch-Verlag 2001, p. 190.
  22. Ralph Kirkpatrick , Domenico Scarlatti , 2 vol., New Jersey, 1953 / Munich: Ellermann, 1972, vol. 1, p. 205ff, and vol. 2, p. 46f. Edward L. Kottick, A History of the Harpsichord , Indiana: University Press, 2003, pp. 235-239 and p. 503.
  23. In the Queen's inventory, the sizes are only given in terms of the number of keys. All the ranges mentioned here and below are only intended as an example to give the reader a certain idea. It must be emphasized that historical keyboard instruments, especially in Italy (but also elsewhere) often had so-called short octaves in the bass not only in the 16th and 17th centuries , but also in the 18th century. So there are z. B. von Christofori instruments with a range of FF, GG, AA-c '' '(= 54 keys), i.e. the keys of the low semitones F sharp and G sharp were missing. A harpsichord by Goccini from 1721 (Bologna, private collection) has a range of GG, AA-d '' ', e' '' (= 56 keys): In this case the low G sharp, but also the high dis' '' ! As late as 1746, Ferrini found GG, AA-e '' '(= 57 keys), i.e. without the low G sharp. Such practices make it relatively difficult to determine the exact size of Maria Bárbara's instruments. See: Edward L. Kottick, A History of the Harpsichord , Indiana: University Press, 2003, pp. 213-215 (Christofori), p. 223 (Ferrini), p. 228 (Goccini), p. 239 (Scarlatti).
  24. According to a story told by Giovenali Sacchi, Farinelli's biographer. Adapted from: Edward L. Kottick, A History of the Harpsichord , Indiana: University Press, 2003, p. 237 and p. 503 (footnotes).
  25. Some surviving spinets and harpsichords from Hitchcock , Slade and Smith have GG-g '' '. See: Edward L. Kottick, A History of the Harpsichord , Indiana: University Press, 2003, pp. 355-357.
  26. Note that the term "wing" in this original German translation from 1772 means a harpsichord , not a pianoforte! This corresponds exactly to the use of the word "grand piano" as in Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's attempt ... from 1753. See: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach , attempt on the true way of playing the piano. Part I: Berlin 1753, Part II: Berlin 1762, facsimile, ed. v. Wolfgang Horn, Kassel et al .: Bärenreiter, 1994, introduction pp. 8-10.
  29. .
  30. Scarlatti, Domenico in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart , p. 66174 ff (cf. MGG vol. 11, p. 1514) (c) Bärenreiter-Verlag 1986 ( digital library volume 60).