The music collections for keyboard instruments by Domenico Scarlatti, Antoni Soler, Vicente Rodríguez and Joaquín Montero show the development and remarkable vitality of the Spanish school of keyboard during the 18th century.
Domenico Scarlatti. Sonate, per cembalo. 1740. Manuscript, 33 f. (39 x 28 cm)
Son of the great composer Alessandro Scarlatti, Domenico Scarlatti (Naples, 1685; Madrid, 1757) entered into the service, in 1709, of Maria Casimira, Queen of Poland, who maintained a small court in her Roman exile. For her, he composed oratorios and operas. After her death in 1715, he for a while formed part of the Capella Guilia, until he became mestre de capela for John v, King of Portugal in 1719. He also taught music to his daughter, Barbara, a remarkable performer, to whom Padre Giambattista Martini dedicated his monumental, erudite work Storia della musica, published in 1757. In 1729, Domenico Scarlatti accompanied Barbara to Spain when she married the Prince of Asturias, Ferdinand, the son of Philip V, who ascended to the throne in 1746. Scarlatti spent his whole career at the Spanish court, together with the famous Farinelli.
In 1738, the first large selection of his sonatas was published, dedicated to John V, printed by Fortier under the title Essercizi per Gravicembalo di Don Domenico Scarlatti Cavaliero di S. Giacomo e Maestro dè Serenissimi Prencipe e Prencipessa delle Asturie etc. In the foreword, Scarlatti explains that the letter D refers to the right hand, and M to the left hand.
The present manuscript, dated 1740 on the first page, contains a copy of sonatas XVI to XXIX from the Essercizi, giving evidence of their rapid spread following publication. Carefully executed (each page is framed by a red ornamental bar), it was made by a single copyist, probably Spanish.