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Domenico Scarlatti 1685-1757

Domenico Scarlatti

(1685 – 1757)
The forgotten flamenco pioneer?


No Spanish composer, not even Manuel de Falla in the 20th century, has expressed the essence of his native land as completely as did the foreigner Scarlatti. He has captured the click of castanets, the strumming of guitars, the thud of muffled drums, the harsh bitter wail of gypsy lament, the overwhelming gaiety of the village band, and above all the wiry tension of the Spanish dance.
Encyclopedia Britannica

Domenico who?
A contemporary of Bach, Domenico Scarlatti was born in Naples, the sixth of ten children. After his early training and career in Italy, he moved to Portugal in 1720 to work as music master to King John V. In 1729, his patron and pupil Maria Barbara married the Spanish crown prince, the future Ferdinand VI. Scarlatti followed the royal pair to Madrid where he spent the last 29 years of his life. He was the first composer to explore the free style of playing the harpsichord. Although he wrote many other pieces like operas and sacred works, he is mainly remembered for his 555 harpsichord sonatas. The most commonly cited catalog of Scarlatti's compositions was compiled by the American harpsichordist Ralph Kirkpatrick (1911 - 1984). Hence the prefix letter K attached to each numbered piece.

OK! Fine! So what's the point?
It's my view that Scarlatti may have influenced the evolution of flamenco music. It would be stretching the point to say any more than that but I think it's fair to give credit where credit is due. Unlike some of the people cited below, I would not go so far as to call his music flamenco just because of a few isolated passages. Just for fun, let's put our skeptic hats on and go down this path anyway to see where it takes us. Don't forget to tie your camel first. (It's doesn't pay very well, but I love to be the Devil's advocate)

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