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Domenico Scarlatti

born: 26 October 1685
died: 23 July 1757
country: Italy

The sixth of Alessandro Scarlatti’s ten children, Domenico Scarlatti’s reputation today rests mainly on his enormous output of keyboard music, amounting to some 550 sonatas. Most of his fifteen known operas are lost (and those which survive are rarely heard), as are the majority of his oratorios and cantatas. Domenico’s early compositions, and indeed his whole lifestyle up to the age of thirty-two, were greatly restricted by his father who exercised a quite intolerable degree of interference. It took a legal document in 1717 to free son from domineering father. Most of Domenico’s sacred compositions date from 1713–1719, whilst he was Maestro di Cappella at the Basilica Giulia in Rome and still within this period of parental control.

In his sacred music Domenico showed elements of the harmonic richness and melodic individuality which flood his later keyboard writing, but the main features of his settings of emotive sacred texts are tuneful melodies which mix religious deference with occasional elements of the opera. This readily approachable style is nonetheless underpinned by a sound compositional technique.

from notes by Robert King © 1996

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