Alessandro Scarlatti
Overview
 
Alessandro Scarlatti was an Italian Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

 especially famous for his opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

s and chamber cantata
Cantata
A cantata is a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir....

s. He is considered the founder of the Neapolitan school
Neapolitan School
In music history, the Neapolitan School is a group, associated with opera, of 18th century composers who studied or worked in Naples, Italy. The best known of which is Alessandro Scarlatti, with whom, "modern opera begins"....

 of opera. He was the father of two other composers, Domenico Scarlatti
Domenico Scarlatti
Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti was an Italian composer who spent much of his life in the service of the Portuguese and Spanish royal families. He is classified as a Baroque composer chronologically, although his music was influential in the development of the Classical style...

 and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti
Pietro Filippo Scarlatti
Pietro Filippo Scarlatti was an Italian composer, organist and choirmaster.He was born in Rome, the eldest of Alessandro Scarlatti's children and a brother of composer Domenico Scarlatti - began his musical career in 1705 as choirmaster of the cathedral of Urbino...

.
Scarlatti was born in Palermo
Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

, then part of the Kingdom of Sicily
Kingdom of Sicily
The Kingdom of Sicily was a state that existed in the south of Italy from its founding by Roger II in 1130 until 1816. It was a successor state of the County of Sicily, which had been founded in 1071 during the Norman conquest of southern Italy...

. He is generally said to have been a pupil of Giacomo Carissimi
Giacomo Carissimi
Giacomo Carissimi was an Italian composer, one of the most celebrated masters of the early Baroque, or, more accurately, the Roman School of music.-Biography:...

 in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, and some theorize that he had some connection with northern Italy because his early works seem to show the influence of Stradella
Alessandro Stradella
Alessandro Stradella was an Italian composer of the middle baroque. He enjoyed a dazzling career as a freelance composer, writing on commission, collaborating with distinguished poets, producing over three hundred works in a variety of genres.-Life:Not much is known about his early life, but he...

 and Legrenzi
Giovanni Legrenzi
Giovanni Legrenzi was an Italian composer of opera, vocal and instrumental music, and organist, of the Baroque era...

.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Alessandro Scarlatti was an Italian Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

 especially famous for his opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

s and chamber cantata
Cantata
A cantata is a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir....

s. He is considered the founder of the Neapolitan school
Neapolitan School
In music history, the Neapolitan School is a group, associated with opera, of 18th century composers who studied or worked in Naples, Italy. The best known of which is Alessandro Scarlatti, with whom, "modern opera begins"....

 of opera. He was the father of two other composers, Domenico Scarlatti
Domenico Scarlatti
Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti was an Italian composer who spent much of his life in the service of the Portuguese and Spanish royal families. He is classified as a Baroque composer chronologically, although his music was influential in the development of the Classical style...

 and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti
Pietro Filippo Scarlatti
Pietro Filippo Scarlatti was an Italian composer, organist and choirmaster.He was born in Rome, the eldest of Alessandro Scarlatti's children and a brother of composer Domenico Scarlatti - began his musical career in 1705 as choirmaster of the cathedral of Urbino...

.

Life

Scarlatti was born in Palermo
Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

, then part of the Kingdom of Sicily
Kingdom of Sicily
The Kingdom of Sicily was a state that existed in the south of Italy from its founding by Roger II in 1130 until 1816. It was a successor state of the County of Sicily, which had been founded in 1071 during the Norman conquest of southern Italy...

. He is generally said to have been a pupil of Giacomo Carissimi
Giacomo Carissimi
Giacomo Carissimi was an Italian composer, one of the most celebrated masters of the early Baroque, or, more accurately, the Roman School of music.-Biography:...

 in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, and some theorize that he had some connection with northern Italy because his early works seem to show the influence of Stradella
Alessandro Stradella
Alessandro Stradella was an Italian composer of the middle baroque. He enjoyed a dazzling career as a freelance composer, writing on commission, collaborating with distinguished poets, producing over three hundred works in a variety of genres.-Life:Not much is known about his early life, but he...

 and Legrenzi
Giovanni Legrenzi
Giovanni Legrenzi was an Italian composer of opera, vocal and instrumental music, and organist, of the Baroque era...

. The production at Rome of his opera Gli Equivoci nell sembiante (1679) gained him the support of Queen Christina of Sweden
Christina of Sweden
Christina , later adopted the name Christina Alexandra, was Queen regnant of Swedes, Goths and Vandals, Grand Princess of Finland, and Duchess of Ingria, Estonia, Livonia and Karelia, from 1633 to 1654. She was the only surviving legitimate child of King Gustav II Adolph and his wife Maria Eleonora...

 (who at the time was living in Rome), and he became her Maestro di Cappella. In February 1684 he became Maestro di Cappella to the viceroy
Viceroy
A viceroy is a royal official who runs a country, colony, or province in the name of and as representative of the monarch. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning king. A viceroy's province or larger territory is called a viceroyalty...

 of Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, perhaps through the influence of his sister, an opera singer, who might have been the mistress of an influential Neapolitan noble. Here he produced a long series of operas, remarkable chiefly for their fluency and expressiveness, as well as other music for state occasions.

In 1702 Scarlatti left Naples and did not return until the Spanish domination had been superseded by that of the Austrians. In the interval he enjoyed the patronage of Ferdinando de' Medici, for whose private theatre near Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 he composed operas, and of Cardinal Ottoboni, who made him his maestro di cappella, and procured him a similar post at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
The Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major , known also by other names, is the largest Roman Catholic Marian church in Rome, Italy.There are other churches in Rome dedicated to Mary, such as Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, but the greater size of the...

 in Rome in 1703.

After visiting Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 and Urbino
Urbino
Urbino is a walled city in the Marche region of Italy, south-west of Pesaro, a World Heritage Site notable for a remarkable historical legacy of independent Renaissance culture, especially under the patronage of Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino from 1444 to 1482...

 in 1707, Scarlatti took up his duties in Naples again in 1708, and remained there until 1717. By this time Naples seems to have become tired of his music; the Romans, however, appreciated it better, and it was at the Teatro Capranica in Rome that he produced some of his finest operas (Telemaco, 1718; Marco Attilio Regolò, 1719; La Griselda, 1721), as well as some noble specimens of church music, including a mass
Mass (music)
The Mass, a form of sacred musical composition, is a choral composition that sets the invariable portions of the Eucharistic liturgy to music...

 for chorus and orchestra, composed in honor of Saint Cecilia
Saint Cecilia
Saint Cecilia is the patroness of musicians and Church music because as she was dying she sang to God. It is also written that as the musicians played at her wedding she "sang in her heart to the Lord". St. Cecilia was an only child. Her feast day is celebrated in the Roman Catholic, Anglican,...

 for Cardinal Acquaviva in 1721. His last work on a large scale appears to have been the unfinished serenata for the marriage of the prince of Stigliano
Stigliano
Stigliano is a town and comune in the province of Matera, in the Basilicata region of southern Italy.-History:The town was founded by the Lucani, and later was conquered by the Greek colony of Metaponto. The name is most likely of Roman origin, stemming from the Hostilii family, who owned it...

 in 1723. He died in Naples in 1725.

Scarlatti's music

Scarlatti's music forms an important link between the early Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 Italian vocal styles of the 17th century, with their centers in Florence, Venice and Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, and the classical school of the 18th century. Scarlatti's style, however, is more than a transitional element in Western music; like most of his Naples colleagues he shows an almost modern understanding of the psychology of modulation and also frequently makes use of the ever-changing phrase lengths so typical of the Napoli school. His early operas (Gli equivoci nel sembiante 1679; L’honestà negli amori 1680, containing the famous aria "Già il sole dal Gange"; Il Pompeo 1683, containing the well-known airs "O cessate di piagarmi" and "Toglietemi la vita ancor," and others down to about 1685) retain the older cadences in their recitatives, and a considerable variety of neatly constructed forms in their charming little arias, accompanied sometimes by the string quartet, treated with careful elaboration, sometimes with the continuo alone. By 1686 he had definitely established the "Italian overture" form (second edition of Dal male il bene), and had abandoned the ground bass
Ostinato
In music, an ostinato is a motif or phrase, which is persistently repeated in the same musical voice. An ostinato is always a succession of equal sounds, wherein each note always has the same weight or stress. The repeating idea may be a rhythmic pattern, part of a tune, or a complete melody in...

 and the binary form
Binary form
Binary form is a musical form in two related sections, both of which are usually repeated. Binary is also a structure used to choreograph dance....

 air in two stanzas in favour of the ternary form
Ternary form
Ternary form, sometimes called song form, is a three-part musical form, usually schematicized as A-B-A. The first and third parts are musically identical, or very nearly so, while the second part in some way provides a contrast with them...

 or da capo
Da capo
Da Capo is a musical term in Italian, meaning from the beginning . It is often abbreviated D.C. It is a composer or publisher's directive to repeat the previous part of music, often used to save space. In small pieces this might be the same thing as a repeat, but in larger works D.C...

 type of air. His best operas of this period are La Rosaura (1690, printed by the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung), and Pirro e Demetrio (1694), in which occur the arias "Le Violette", and "Ben ti sta, traditor".

From about 1697 onwards (La caduta del Decemviri), influenced partly perhaps by the style of Giovanni Bononcini and probably more by the taste of the viceregal court, his opera arias become more conventional and commonplace in rhythm, while his scoring is hasty and crude, yet not without brilliance (L'Eraclea, 1700), the oboe
Oboe
The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" , "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca...

s and trumpet
Trumpet
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

s being frequently used, and the violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

s often playing in unison. The operas composed for Ferdinando de' Medici are lost; they might have given a more favourable idea of his style as his correspondence with the prince shows that they were composed with a very sincere sense of inspiration.

Mitridate Eupatore, accounted his masterpiece, composed for Venice in 1707, contains music far in advance of anything that Scarlatti had written for Naples, both in technique and in intellectual power. The later Neapolitan operas (L'amor volubile e tiranno 1709; La principessa fedele 1710; Tigrane, 1714, &c.) are showy and effective rather than profoundly emotional; the instrumentation marks a great advance on previous work, since the main duty of accompanying the voice is thrown upon the string quartet, the harpsichord being reserved exclusively for the noisy instrumental ritornelli
Ritornello
A ritornello is a recurring passage in Baroque music for orchestra or chorus. The first or final movement of a solo concerto or aria may be in "ritornello form", in which the ritornello is the opening theme, always played by tutti, which returns in whole or in part and in different keys throughout...

. In his opera Teodora (1697) he originated the use of the orchestral ritornello.

His last group of operas, composed for Rome, exhibit a deeper poetic feeling, a broad and dignified style of melody, a strong dramatic sense, especially in accompanied recitatives, a device which he himself had been the first to use as early as 1686 (Olimpia vendicata) and a much more modern style of orchestration, the horns appearing for the first time, and being treated with striking effect.

Besides the operas, oratorio
Oratorio
An oratorio is a large musical composition including an orchestra, a choir, and soloists. Like an opera, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias...

s (Agar et Ismaele esiliati, 1684; Christmas Oratorio, c. 1705; S. Filippo Neri, 1714; and others) and serenatas, which all exhibit a similar style, Scarlatti composed upwards of five hundred chamber-cantatas for solo voice. These represent the most intellectual type of chamber-music of their period, and it is to be regretted that they have remained almost entirely in manuscript, since a careful study of them is indispensable to anyone who wishes to form an adequate idea of Scarlatti's development.
His few remaining masses (the story of his having composed two hundred is hardly credible) and church music in general are comparatively unimportant, except the great St Cecilia Mass
Mass (music)
The Mass, a form of sacred musical composition, is a choral composition that sets the invariable portions of the Eucharistic liturgy to music...

 (1721), which is one of the first attempts at the style which reached its height in the great masses of Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

 and Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

. His instrumental music, though not without interest, is curiously antiquated as compared with his vocal works.

Recordings

  • Akademie für alte Musik Berlin, Rene Jacobs. (2007). Griselda. Harmonia Mundi HMC 901805.07. Dorothea Röschmann
    Dorothea Röschmann
    Dorothea Röschmann is a German opera soprano from Flensburg.-Education and early life:Röschmann studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg, under Barbara Schlick at the Akademie für Alte Musik in Bremen, and subsequently in Los Angeles, New York, Tel Aviv, and under Vera Rózsa in London...

    , Lawrence Zazzo, Veronica Cangemi, Bernarda Fink
    Bernarda Fink
    Bernarda Fink Inzko is an Argentinian mezzo-soprano. Born in Buenos Aires to Slovene parents, Bernarda Fink studied at the "Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colón" in Buenos Aires. She won First Prize at the Nuevas Voces Líricas competition in 1985 and moved to Europe...

    , Silvia Tro Santafe, Kobie van Rensburg
    Kobie van Rensburg
    Kobie van Rensburg is a South African tenor and opera director.- Life :Van Rensburg studied singing with Werner Nel at the Northwest University of South Africa, but also law and international politics at Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education..He made his debut in 1991 at the age...

    .
  • Le Consert de l'Hostel Dieu. (2006). Il martirio di Sant'Orsola. Ligia digital: 0202176-07
  • Le parlement de musique. (2005). La Giuditta. Ambronay editions: AMY004
  • Ensemble Europa Galante. (2004). Oratorio per la Santissima Trinità. Virgin Classics: 5 45666 2
  • Academia Bizantina. (2004). Il Giardino di Rose. Decca
    Decca Records
    Decca Records began as a British record label established in 1929 by Edward Lewis. Its U.S. label was established in late 1934; however, owing to World War II, the link with the British company was broken for several decades....

    : 470 650-2 DSA.
  • Orqestra barocca di Sevilla . (2003). Colpa, Pentimento e Grazia. Harmonia Mundi: HMI 987045.46
  • Seattle Baroque. (2001). Agar et Ismaele Esiliati. Centaur: CRC 2664
  • Capella Palatina. (2000). Davidis pugna et victoria. Agora: AG 249.1
  • Ensemble Europa Galante. (1995). Humanita e Lucifero. Opus 111: OPS 30-129
  • Ensemble Europa Galante. (1993). La Maddalena. Opus 111: OPS 30-96
  • Allesandro Stradella Consort. (1992). Cantata natalizia Abramo, il tuo sembiante. Nuova era: 7117
  • I Musici
    I Musici
    I Musici is an Italian chamber orchestra from Rome formed in 1952. They are well known for their interpretations of Baroque and other works, particularly Antonio Vivaldi and Tomaso Albinoni....

    . (1991). Concerto Grosso. Philips Classics Productions: 434 160-2
  • I Musici
    I Musici
    I Musici is an Italian chamber orchestra from Rome formed in 1952. They are well known for their interpretations of Baroque and other works, particularly Antonio Vivaldi and Tomaso Albinoni....

    . William Bennett
    William Bennett (flautist)
    William Bennett, OBE is a British flute player, who has played with most of the major British orchestras, the London Symphony Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, and was a frequent guest artist in the Melos Ensemble. He also has a career as a soloist...

     (Flute), Lenore Smith (Flute), Bernard Soustrot (Trumpet), Hans Elhorst (Oboe). (1961). "12 Sinfonie di Concerto Grosso" Philips Box 6769 066 [9500 959 & 9500 960 - 2 vinyl discs]
  • Emma Kirkby
    Emma Kirkby
    Dame Carolyn Emma Kirkby, DBE is an English soprano singer and one of the world's most renowned early music specialists. She attended Sherborne School For Girls in Dorset and was a classics student at Somerville College, Oxford, and an English teacher before developing a career as a soloist...

    , soprano and Daniel Taylor, countertenor, with the Theatre of Early Music. (2005). Stabat Mater. ATMA Classique
    ATMA Classique
    ATMA Classique is a Canadian record label based in Montreal, Quebec. Founded in 1995, the company has over 300 titles in its catalogue and distributes in over 25 countries and on the internet. Several recordings released by the company have won Juno and Felix Awards....

    : ACD2 2237
  • Francis Colpron, recorder, with Les Boréades. (2007). Concertos for flute. ATMA Classique: ACD2 2521
  • Nederlands Kamerkoor, with Harry van der Kamp
    Harry van der Kamp
    Harry van der Kamp is a Dutch bass singer in opera and concert.- Singing career :Van der Kamp studied first law and psychology in Amsterdam...

    , conductor. (2008). Vespro della Beata Vergine for 5 voices and continuo. ATMA Classique: ACD2 2533

External links

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