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DOMENICO SCARLATTI (français / anglais)

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                                  Domenico Scarlatti

 

DOMENICO SCARLATTI

Cette nuit divine, le Livre du Printemps
Ouvert sur les abîmes de nos prunelles ravies,
Les ruisseaux du temps faisant trembler nos vies
Aux sons du clavecin forgés d’éclats de sang !

        Athanase Vantchev de Thracy

Glose :

Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) : élève de son père, le célèbre Alessandro Scarlatti, et de Bernardo Pasquini, il fit ses débuts de compositeur d’opéra à la cour de Naples où il était organiste (1703). Il suivit son père à Florence, Rome, puis à Venise, où il rencontra Haendel (1705). C’était le début d’une longue et belle amitié, fondée sur une admiration réciproque, entre les deux musiciens. Il revint à Rome où, attaché au service de la reine Marie Casimir de Pologne, il composa plusieurs opéras (1709-1714). Nommé ensuite maître de chapelle  Saint-Pierre-de-Rome (1715), il écrivit à cette occasion quelques œuvres religieuses (Miserre, Stabat Mater à dix voix, Messe à quatre voix, Salve Regina). Il quitta son poste au Vatican pour Lisbonne où, sollicité par l’ambassadeur du Portugal à Rome,  il accepta en 1719 les fonctions de maître de musique de l’infante Maria Barbara. A peine établi dans ses nouvelles fonctions, il dut suivre la cour à Madrid, l’infante ayant épousée le prince des Asturies, héritier du trône d’Espagne (1729). C’est à Madrid que devait s’écouler le reste de ses jours, consacrés à la composition de son œuvre pour clavecin dont l’ensemble, monumental, n’a été publié qu’au XXe siècle. Utilisant d’une manière toute personnelle les possibilités de cet instrument, Scarlatti apparaît, dans la riche diversité de sa production, comme le véritable créateur d’un style, d’une forme et d’une technique qui ont révolutionné l’écriture de la musique de clavier. Son œuvre comprend 560 sonates, 12 opéras, des oratorios, sérénades, cantates de circonstance et cantates de chambre, ainsi que des pièces de musique sacrée.

 

ENGLISH (My translation into English) :

This divine night, the Book of the Spring
Opened on the abysses of our delighted pupils,
The brooks of time making our lives tremble
In the sounds of the harpsichord forged by brightness of blood!

Notes:

Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757):  Italian composer of the Baroque era. He was extremely influential in the development of keyboard music, especially in Spain, Portugal and England, through his highly idiosyncratic and individual style.

Surprisingly little is known about Scarlatti's life apart from legends and anecdotes. He was born in Naples, Italy, the sixth of ten children. Most likely he first studied under his father, the composer and teacher Alessandro Scarlatti; other composers who may have been his early teachers include Gaetano Greco, Francesco Gasparini, and Bernardo Pasquini, all of whom seem to have influenced his musical style.


He became a composer and organist at the royal chapel in Naples in 1701, and in 1704, he revised Pollaroli's opera Irene for performance at Naples. Soon after this his father sent him to Venice, but the four years there are a blank in the record. In 1709 he went to Rome in the service of the exiled Polish queen Maria Casimira; while in Rome he met Thomas Roseingrave who would later lead the enthusiastic reception of the composer's sonatas in London.

Domenico was already a harpsichord-player of eminence, and there is a story that at a trial of skill with George Friderich Handel at the palace of Cardinal Ottoboni in Rome he was adjudged perhaps superior to Handel on that instrument, although inferior on the organ. Later in life, he was known to cross himself in veneration, when speaking of Handel's skill.


Also while in Rome, Scarlatti composed several operas for Queen Casimira's private theatre. He was maestro di cappella at St Peter's from 1715 to 1719, and in the latter year came to London to direct his opera Narciso at the King's Theatre.


In 1720 or 1721 he went to Lisbon, where he taught music to the princess Maria Magdalena Barbara. He was at Naples again in 1725 and during a visit to Rome in 1728 he married Maria Caterina Gentili. In 1729 he went to Madrid as music master to the princess, who had married into the Spanish royal house. Maria Barbara became Queen of Spain and he remained in Spain for some twenty-five years and had five children there. After the death of his wife in 1742 he married a Spaniard, Anastasia Maxarti Ximenes. During his time in Madrid Scarlatti composed over five hundred keyboard sonatas. It is for these works that he is best remembered today.


Domenico Scarlatti died in Madrid, aged 71. His residence on Calle Leganitos is designated with a historical plaque, and his descendants still live in Madrid today.