World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Domenico Scarlatti

1738 portrait by Domingo Antonio Velasco

Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti (26 October 1685 – 23 July 1757) was an Italian composer who spent much of his life in the service of the Portuguese and Spanish royal families. He is classified primarily as a Baroque composer chronologically, although his music was influential in the development of the Classical style and he was one of the few Baroque composers to transition into the classical period. Like his renowned father Alessandro Scarlatti, he composed in a variety of musical forms, although today he is known mainly for his 555 keyboard sonatas.


  • Life and career 1
  • Music 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Life and career

Domenico Scarlatti was born in Alessandro Scarlatti. Domenico's older brother Pietro Filippo was also a musician.

He probably first studied music under his father. Other composers who may have been his early teachers include Narciso at the King's Theatre.

According to Vicente Bicchi (Papal Nuncio at the time), Domenico Scarlatti arrived in Lisbon on 29 November 1719. There he taught music to the Portuguese princess Maria Magdalena Barbara. He left Lisbon on 28 January 1727 for Rome, where he married Maria Caterina Gentili on 6 May 1728. In 1729 he moved to Seville, staying for four years. In 1733 he went to Madrid as music master to Princess Maria Barbara, who had married into the Spanish royal house. The Princess later became Queen of Spain. Scarlatti remained in the country for the remaining twenty-five years of his life, and had five children there. After the death of his first wife in 1742, he married a Spaniard, Anastasia Maxarti Ximenes. Among his compositions during his time in Madrid were a number of the 555 keyboard sonatas for which he is best known.

Scarlatti befriended the castrato singer Farinelli, a fellow Neapolitan also enjoying royal patronage in Madrid. The musicologist Ralph Kirkpatrick commented that Farinelli's correspondence provides "most of the direct information about Scarlatti that has transmitted itself to our day." Domenico Scarlatti died in Madrid, at the age of 71. His residence on Calle Leganitos is designated with a historical plaque, and his descendants still live in Madrid. He was buried at a convent there, in Madrid, but his grave no longer exists.


performed on a harpsichord by Martha Goldstein
performed on a harpsichord by Martha Goldstein
performed on a piano by Raymond Smullyan
performed on a spinet by Ulrich Metzner
performed on a digital harpsichord by Membeth
performed on a piano by Veronica van der Knaap
About this sound 

MIDI rendition

performed on a piano by Raymond Smullyan
performed on a digital harpsichord by Membeth
performed on a piano by Raymond Smullyan

Only a small fraction of Scarlatti's compositions were published during his lifetime; Scarlatti himself seems to have overseen the publication in 1738 of the most famous collection, his 30 Essercizi ("Exercises"). These were well received throughout Europe, and were championed by the foremost English writer on music of the eighteenth century, Charles Burney.

The many sonatas which were unpublished during Scarlatti's lifetime have appeared in print irregularly in the two and a half centuries since. Scarlatti has attracted notable admirers, including Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Béla Bartók, Dmitri Shostakovich, Heinrich Schenker, Vladimir Horowitz, Emil Gilels, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, and Marc-André Hamelin.

Scarlatti's 555 keyboard sonatas are single movements, mostly in modulations to remote keys.

Other distinctive attributes of Scarlatti's style are the following:

  • The influence of Iberian (Portuguese and Spanish) folk music. An example is Scarlatti's use of the Phrygian mode and other tonal inflections more or less alien to European art music. Many of Scarlatti's figurations and dissonances are suggestive of the guitar.
  • A formal device in which each half of a sonata leads to a pivotal point, which the Scarlatti scholar Ralph Kirkpatrick termed "the crux", and which is sometimes underlined by a pause or fermata. Before the crux, Scarlatti sonatas often contain their main thematic variety, and after the crux the music makes more use of repetitive figurations as it modulates away from the home key (in the first half) or back to the home key (in the second half).

Ralph Kirkpatrick produced an edition of the sonatas in 1953, and the numbering from this edition is now nearly always used – the Kk. or K. number. Previously, the numbering commonly used was from the 1906 edition compiled by the Neapolitan pianist anachronisms.[1]

Aside from his many sonatas, he composed a quantity of operas and cantatas, symphonias, and liturgical pieces. Well known works include the Stabat Mater of 1715 and the Salve Regina of 1757, which is thought to be his last composition.


  1. ^ See List of solo keyboard sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti for a list converting Longo, Kirkpatrick, Pestelli and Czerny numbers of Scarlatti's sonatas.


  • Domenico Scarlatti. Sixty Sonatas in Two volumes, edited in chronological order from the manuscripts and earliest printed sources with a preface by Ralph Kirkpatrick, New York, G. Schirmer, 1953.
  • D. Scarlatti. Sonates, in 11 volumes, ed. Kenneth Gilbert after the Venice manuscripts, Paris, Heugel, coll. « Le Pupitre », from 1975 to 1984.
  • Domenico Scarlatti. Complete Keyboard Works, in facsimile from the manuscript (Parma) and printed sources, rev. Ralph Kirkpatrick, New York, Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1971.
  • Scarlatti, Domenico. Sonate per cembalo del Cavalier Dn. Domenico Scarlatti. Complete facsimile of the Venice manuscripts in 15 vol. Archivum Musicum: Monumenta Musicae Revocata, 1/I-XV. Florence, 1985-1992.

External links

  • The Mutopia Project has compositions by Domenico Scarlatti
  • Converter for Scarlatti's Works Number
  • Associazione Domenico Scarlatti
  • John Sankey: Keyboard Tuning of Domenico Scarlatti
  • John Sankey: Complete edition, harpsichord, downloadable recordings in MIDI
  • The Life of Domenico Scarlatti
  • Scarlatti Domenico – complete catalogue of 600 keyboard sonatas including newly discovered works and the latest biographical discoveries
  • "The mercurial maestro of Madrid" by Robert White, 20 July 2007, The Guardian
  • 538 Piano Sonatas (mp3 files)
  • Piano Society – A short biography and some free recordings in MP3 format, performed by Roberto Carnevale, Chase Coleman, Graziella Concas, and Knut Erik Jensen
Free scores
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.