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Domenico Scarlatti

October 26, 1685
July 23, 1757
Place of birth: 

Domenico Scarlatti practically inherited his profession, as he was the son of famous composer Alessandro Scarlatti. Unlike his father however, he distinguished himself less through stage music or vocal and instrumental chamber music, but, most notably, through his large oeuvre of sonatas. Born in 1685, the same year as Johann Sebastian Bach, he outlined a whole different path in Clavier music (he was already aware of the fortepiano). His appointment as the harpsichordist at the court of John V in Lisbon was the starting point of his development. Here, he also taught Princess Barbara of Braganza and followed her to Madrid after her wedding with Crown Prince and future King of Spain, Ferdinand VI, in 1729. In Madrid, he wrote the majority of his over 550 sonatas and remained there until his death. In his works, primarily in one movement, he presents one or more ranged themes mostly in bipartite forms. In opposition to the strict counterpoint of Bach, the forms are dominated by a two-part homophony. The variety of expressions and the melodic ingenuity of the composer are especially admirable. Scarlatti raised technical virtuosity to an equal, sometimes higher-ranked element and in doing with unexpected effects, he prepared the almost limitless pianistics of the 19th century.