Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/250

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.



��From a Maltese cross engraved at the foot of the inscription it may be supposed that he was a Knight of the order of Malta.

Since ' ix. Kal. Novembris cioioooxxv ' means Oct. 24, 1725, it follows that Scarlatti was born

in 1659, and we learn from tlie score of 'P peo ' (in the possession of Gaspare Selvaggio, and also verified by Florimo) that his birthplace was Trapani in Sicily. As to his musical educa- tion, some maintain, though without citing any authority, that he studied in Parma, while others declare that he was a pupil of Carissimi (born 1604) in Rome. The eminent antiquarian Villarosa ('Memorie dei compositori ... del regno di Napoli ') states (without quoting his authority) that when Scarlatti moved with his family to Naples he was a celebrated singer and player on the harp and harpsichord. The first ascertained fact in his life is that he was commissioned to compose for Christina, Queen of Sweden, an opera 'L* Onestk nell' amore' performed in 1680 at her palace in Rome, and it is a probable inference that he was even at that time a composer of some mark. Cramer's * Musikalisches Magazin ' (2nd year, 668) states that he composed an opera for Munich in the same year, an assertion which, like many others concerning Scarlatti, has been copied without verification from one book to another. Fe'tis doubted the fact, and it has been com- pletely disproved by Rudhart (' Geschichte der Oper am Hofe zu Miinchen'). The court of Bavaria had at that time as representative in Rome an Abbe" Scarlatti, whose name occurs frequently in the accounts as receiving large sums of money. At a brilliant f$te given by this Abbe Scarlatti (Pere Mene'trier's 'Repre- sentations en musique,' 252) on Aug. 22, 1680, at the Vigna della Pariola near Rome, 'La Baviera trionfante, componimento per musica ' was performed, a fact which has given rise to a series of misstatements, originating with Lipow- sky, who in his ' National Garde Jahrbuch ' (1814) cites the Abbe as Alessandro Scarlatti, and changes the locality to Munich, though he states in his ' Bayrisches Musiklexicon ' that no opera of Scarlatti's was produced in Munich before 1721. 'Pompeo* was performed at the royal palace at Naples, Jan. 30, 1684 (Fetis's copy is dated 1683), and on the libretto Scarlatti is styled Maestro di capella to the Queen of Sweden. In 1693 he composed an oratorio ' I dolori di Maria sempre Vergine ' for the Con- gregazione dei sette Dolori di San Luigi di Palazzo in Rome, and an opera, 'Teodora,' J in which may be found many airs having the first part Da capo after the second, a practice logi- cally and musically correct, and, according to Kiesewetter first brought into general use by Scarlatti, though instances of it do occur before his time. In 'Teodora' we find also the first orchestral ritornel, and the germ of the 'recitative obligate,' with the entire orchestra employed to accompany the recitative. Violins, violas,

i Abramo Basevi, of Florence, has a contemporaneous copy.


and basses formed the groundwork of hia orchestra, with oboes and flutes (seldom found together, though an instance occurs in 'Tigrane'), horns, bassoons, trumpets, and drums. Queen Christina died in 1688, and in 1694 Scarlatti was maestro di capella to the Viceroy of Naples, as we learn from the libretto of Legrenzi's opera ' Odoacre ' to which Scarlatti added some songs for a performance at San Bartolomeo (Jan. 5, 1694) stating in the preface with commendable modesty that the airs thus added are distin- guished by an asterisk, 'for fear of damaging Legrenzi's reputation, which was to him an object of boundless respect.' Other operas were 'Pirrlio e Demetrio ' (1697), ' II Prigionero for- tunato' (1698), and 'Laodicea e Berenice' (1701), which added enormously to his fame, and in which there was a tenor solo with an obligato violin accompaniment, played by Corelli, but with so little success that Scarlatti after- wards substituted another air for it. On Dec. 3 r > I 73i ne became assistant maestro di capella to Antonio Foggia at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, and succeeded to the chief post May 1707. Cardinal Ottoboni also took him up, and made him his private maestro di capella, as we learn from the libretto of his ' Trionfo della Liberia' (Venice 1707). Soon after this he re- ceived the order of the Golden Spur. 2 He resigned Santa Maria Maggiore in 1709, returned to Naples, and died Oct. 24, 1725.

Scarlatti's fertility was enormous. ' Tigrane ' (1715) is called on the libretto his io6th opera, and there were in all 115, of which only 41 are extant, including, besides those already men- tioned :

��II Prigionero superbo (Naples) ; Equi voche nel sembiante ; Braclea (with all the instruments men tioned, except drums, 1700 ; score in the Fe'tis Collection, Brussels) ; Nozze col nemico ; Mitridate ; II Figlio delle selve (1702) ; La Ca- duta dei Decemviri (1706) ; IlMedo (1708, much praised by Fe'tis) ; Martirio di Santa and Teodosio (Naples 1709); Giro riconosciuto (Borne 1712); Porsenna, with Lotti (San Barto- lomeo, Naples, 1713); Scipione nelle Spagne, Amor generoso, and Ar- minio (Naples 1714); Carlo Be d'Allemania, and Virtu trionfante dell' odio e dell' amore (1716);

��Trionfo dell" Onore Fiorentini, and Telemacco (Naples and Bome 1718) interesting for its comic inter- mezzo in the Neapolitan dialect ; Tersites ; Attilio Begolo, and Cam- bisio (1719). also with comic inter- mezzo ; Tito Sempronio Graccho. with ballets, and Turno Aricinio (1720); Principessa fedele, and

Didone ab-


Undated : Amor volubile e tt- ranno (in the Paris Conservatoire), Olitorio ; Massimo Puppieno ; Non tutto male vien per nuocere, and Amazone guerriera (Monte Cas- sino); Diana ed Endimione; La Merope(Beal Collegio, Naples).

��Cecilia (Borne) Griselda (Bome 1721) ;

��No less prolific as a composer of church-music, he left over 200 masses, of which few have sur- vived. Jommelli pronounced his masses and motets the best he knew in the concertante style, and Hauptmann 3 in regard to them happily compares him and Palestrina as Virgil and Homer. His secular cantatas were equally numer- ous. Burney saw the original MSS. of 35, each composed in a single day during a visit at Tivoli in the autumn of 1704 to Andrea Adami (da Bolsena), then a well-known singer in the Pope's choir ; and a Neapolitan amateui told Quantz in 1725 that he possessed 400. His other works

��2 Also bestowed on Gluck and Mozart. Letters to Hauser, i. 1?7.

�� �