Born 1685 (the same year as both Handel and Bach) ; died 1757. He was a son of the great Neapolitan Opera composer, Alessandro Scarlatti, who wrote to Ferdinand de’ Medici of his son, in 1705, that at Naples –
‘ His talent found scope indeed, but it was not the sort of talent for that place. I send him away from Rome also, since Rome has no roof to shelter music, that lives here in beggary. This son of mine is an eagle whose wings are grown ; he ought not to stay idle in the nest, and I ought not to hinder his flight. Since the virtuoso, Nicolino, of Naples, is passing through Rome on his way to Venice, I have thought fit to send Domenico with him ; and under the sole escort of his own artistic ability (which has made great progress since he was able to be with me and enjoy the honour of obeying your Royal Highness’s commands in person, three years ago), he sets forth to meet whatever opportunities may present themselves for making himself known-opportunities for which it is hopeless to wait in Rome nowadays.’
At Venice he met Handel, became his close friend and travelled with him back to Rome, where a Cardinal held a sort of competition between the two, in which it was agreed that as Harpsichordists they ranked equally, but that as Organist Handel was the greater (the organ was much more cultivated in Germany than in Italy).
Scarlatti then entered the service of the Queen of Poland and wrote for her theatre at Rome a great many operas. At thirty he became choirmaster of St. Peter’s, Rome ; at thirty-four he travelled to London and then to Lisbon, where he became a great favourite at the court. After further years in Rome he went to the Spanish court. He returned to his native place when about seventy, and died there in poverty, having gambled away his large earnings.
Scarlatti wrote a large number of very delightfully bright and vigorous short pieces. There is in some of these pieces a good deal of crossing of the hands, and as their composer was very stout one wonders how he played them ; probably they belong to the earlier years.
PRINTED MUSIC. There are plenty of editions of various Harpsichord pieces. Thomas Dunhill has edited 29 Sonatas (in 2 books, each 4s., Augener); there are also ’50 Harpsichord Lessons’ (Augener, 2 books, each 6s.). Almost every publisher’s catalogue will show something of Scarlatti’s. The standard complete edition, by Longo, is published by Ricordi in many volumes.
FURTHER READING. There is a good article in Grove’s Dictionary, and there are, of course, considerable references in all the histories of music, in Parry’s Evolution of the Art of Music, &c.
PIANOLA ROLLS. Capriccio (‘ arranged ‘ by Tausig ; Æolian, 88 note) , the same (interpreted by Adela Verne; 65 note); Pastorale (in same two forms as above, but both 65) ; Four Sonatas (65 note), and another (88). All Æolian.
GRAMOPHONE RECORDS. Sonata in A, and Sonata in D (2 records ; played on Harpsichord by Mrs. Gordon Woodhouse ; H. M. V.) ; Sonatas in C and G (played on Piano by Irene Scharrer, with Liszt’s Dance of Gnomes on hack ; H. M. V.) ; Pastorale (Murdoch, C.; Hambourg, H. M. V.) ; Capriccio (Hambourg, H. M. V.) ; Pastorale and Capricc: (Moiseivitch, H. M. V. ; a different ‘Capriccio’ from the one mentioned).