Domenico Scarlatti
Italian composer, operas and religious works

1685 - 1757

Domenico Scarlatti was an Italian composer. He became famous for his sonatas for an early keyboard instrument called a harpsichord. Scarlatti composed more than 550 harpsichord sonatas, each in a single movement. He also wrote operas and cantatas. Scarlatti greatly influenced later keyboard playing, requiring techniques such as crossing the hands, arpeggios (fast successions of notes in a chord), and rapid repetitions of notes.

Scarlatti was born in Naples. His father was Alessandro Scarlatti, a famous opera composer. At first, Domenico tried to follow his father's example, composing Italian operas. In 1719, he moved to Lisbon, Portugal, where he taught harpsichord to Princess Maria Barbara. In 1728, the princess married Prince Ferdinand of Spain and moved to Spain. At her request, Scarlatti followed her and spent the rest of his life in Spain.

Contributor: Joscelyn Godwin, F.R.C.O., Prof. of Music, Colgate Univ.


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