(Guiseppe) Domenico Scarlatti

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Born: Naples, October 26, 1685
Died: Madrid, July 23, 1757

    Domenico Scarlatti was the son of Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1775), himself a composer of a great many operas and cantatas. Domenico is known for being a harpsichord virtuoso and for the 555 or so sonatas he composed for that instrument. Having spent a great many years wandering about Europe evading the dominance and influence of his father, Scarlatti eventually settled in Lisbon, Portugal, where he found employment as teacher to the Infanta, Princess Maria Barbara. When the Infanta wedded the heir to the Spanish throne in 1729, Scarlatti was taken to Madrid where he spent the rest of his life. It was during this period that he began composing the little "exercises," pieces for harpsichord that he called sonatas. Regarded as one of the founders of modern keyboard technique, Scarlatti's sonatas employed such new devices as hand-crossing, quick arpeggios, and rapidly repeated notes. These sonatas are by turns capricious, charming, melodic, and witty, and such works as the Sonata in D major, K. 491 point the way to the keyboard figurations of the Classical Period.

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