Personalities | Alessandro Scarlatti | Late Baroque | Classical

(Al-es-san’-dro Skär-lat’-te) 1660–1725
Italian composer

Scarlatti was born in Sicily but spent most of his working life in Rome, where he studied, and in Naples. He made important and prolific contributions to the genres of opera, oratorio, serenata and cantata forms, composing a much smaller quantity of instrumental and keyboard music. His musical talent attracted the attention of many leading patrons in Rome including the Ottoboni and Pamphili families and the exiled Queen Christina of Sweden.

In spite of early successes, Scarlatti left in 1684 for Naples, where he was appointed maestro di cappella to the Viceroy. He remained there for 18 years, composing extensively in all the major vocal forms of the time. In 1702 he travelled to Florence, where he enjoyed the patronage of Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici. Scarlatti returned to Rome in 1703, again entering the service of Cardinal Ottoboni. In 1706 he was admitted to the select Accademia dell’Arcadia. For the remainder of his life he divided his time between Rome and Naples, where he died. His cantatas, mostly for solo voice and continuo, number at least 600. They are sophisticated pieces which, like the larger-scale serenatas, were written mainly for the cultivated audiences of his wealthy and influential patrons.

Recommended Recording:
Cantata per la notte di Natale (Abramo, il tuo sembiante), soloists, Concerto Italiano (dir) Rinaldo Alessandrini (Opus 111)

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