Alessandro Scarlatti

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Scarlatti, Alessandro

Scarlatti, Alessandro (älĕs-sänˈdrō skärlätˈtē), 1660–1725, Italian composer. He may have studied with Carissimi in Rome, where his first opera was produced in 1679. In 1684 he went to Naples as master of the royal chapel and there composed operas for the royal palace and chamber music for the aristocracy. Later he was also active in Florence, Rome, and Venice. He wrote more than 100 operas, of which Mitridate Eupatore (1707) and Il Tigrane (1715) are considered the finest. As a leader of the Neapolitan school, he helped establish the conventions of the opera seria, perfecting the aria da capo and the three-part overture. His church music includes motets and masses; he also wrote serenades and madrigals, and he composed almost 700 chamber cantatas, which represent the highest development of his art.

His son, (Giuseppe) Domenico Scarlatti, 1685–1757, was a harpsichord virtuoso and composer. As a young man he is said to have engaged in friendly keyboard competition with his contemporary Handel, and thereafter the two had lifelong admiration for each other. From 1709 to 1714, Scarlatti was composer to the Polish Queen Maria Casimira in her court at Rome, and then for a time he was chapel master of St. Peter's. About 1719 he went to Lisbon as music master of the royal chapel and teacher of the Princess Maria Barbara. He accompanied her to Madrid in 1729, and spent the rest of his life at the Spanish court. Scarlatti wrote operas, oratorios, and cantatas, but his fame rests chiefly on his keyboard sonatas, of which he wrote well over 500. They exploit the instrument to its fullest capacity, exemplifying his mastery of the homophonic “free style” of composition. His works display the vivacity, grace, and ornamentation of the rococo, and at the same time show boundless invention and originality. Scarlatti is widely considered to be the founder of modern keyboard technique.


See biography of Alessandro by E. J. Dent (1905, new ed. 1960); biography of Domenico by R. Kirkpatrick (1953, rev. ed. 1968); S. Sitwell, A Background for Domenico Scarlatti (1935, repr. 1970).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Scarlatti, Alessandro


Born May 2, 1660. in Palermo; died Oct. 24, 1725, in Naples. Italian composer; founder and major representative of the Neapolitan school of opera.

Scarlatti lived in Naples and Rome, working as a choirmaster and teacher. During the last years of his life he taught at one of the conservatories in Naples. Among his students were D. Scarlatti, J. A. Hasse, and F. Durante. The most significant works in his vast creative legacy are his cantatas and his operas, including Pirro e Demetrio (1694), Mithridates Eupator (1707), and Tigrane (1715). Scarlatti was the originator of the opera seria.


Rolland, R. Opera v XVII veke. Moscow, 1931.
Dent, E. J. A. Scarlatti: His Life and Works. London, 1960.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Both operas were revivals of older works by the librettist Silvio Stampiglia and the composer Alessandro Scarlatti.
After about a month, phrases and slow, short songs due to the slowness of speech were added (especially Alessandro Scarlatti), concentrating on vowel alone and vowel plus consonants.
Which is, of course, what Bartoli did here, bringing spectacular technical pyrotechnics to music by Handel and his contemporaries Alessandro Scarlatti and Caldara, but also immense emotional depths to reflective expressions of melancholy.
Handel's youthful oratorio on the Resurrection story, performed in Rome on Easter Sunday 1708 as a sequel to a Passion oratorio by Alessandro Scarlatti, is so full of good things that it is surprising it has not been recorded more often.
A comparison of Handel's setting of Alexander's first appearance on-stage with those of Alessandro Scarlatti and Leonardo Vinci reveals some suggestive similarities.
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Precursors to this tradition are examined, from the early uses of basso continuo, as outlined by Adriano Banchieri in his 1611 treatise L'organo suono, to the early Roman partimenti of Bernardo Pasquini (1637-1711) and, perhaps most significantly, Alessandro Scarlatti. While working in Rome, Scarlatti was a student of Pasquini.
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For whatever reason, their chances of gaining recognition are slight: they are overshadowed by giants such as Corelli, Alessandro Scarlatti and Vivaldi.
203) and refers to Alessandro Scarlatti, Bernardo Pasquini, and Arcangelo Corelli as the "only three composers to have been ever admitted to the Academy of Arcadians" (p.