Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti (October 26, 1685 ? July 23, 1757) was an Italian composer who spent much of his life in the service of the Portuguese and Spanish royal families. He is classified as a Baroque composer chronologically, although his music was influential in the development of the Classical style. His influential 555 sonatas were almost all written for the harpsichord with a few exceptions for chamber ensemble or organ.
He was the son of composer Alessandro Scarlatti.
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 rapturously received throughout Europe, and were championed by the foremost English writer on music of the eighteenth century, Dr. 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The many sonatas which were unpublished during Scarlatti's lifetime have appeared in print irregularly in the two and a half centuries since.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, however, attracted notable admirers, including Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Béla Bartók, Dmitri Shostakovich, Heinrich Schenker, Vladimir Horowitz and Marc-André Hamelin. The Russian school of pianism has particularly championed the sonatas.
Scarlatti's 555 keyboard sonatas are single movements, mostly in binary form, and are almost all intended for the harpsichord (there are four for organ, and a few where Scarlatti suggests a small instrumental group). Some of them display harmonic audacity in their use of discords, and also unconventional 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. Also some of Scarlatti's figurations and dissonances are guitar-like.
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). (Hide extended text) ... (Read all)
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