Sonata in G major

Domenico Scarlatti


Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) 

  1. Born in Naples, Italy although at the time it was part of the Spanish crown. He was also born in the same year as Bach and Handel. His father, Alessandro Scarlatti was also a renowned composer. In 1701 he was appointed as composer and organist at the royal chapel in Naples. 
  2. In 1704, his father sent him to Venice. 
  3. In 1709 he went to Rome in the service of the exiled Queen Casimire of Poland. Scarlatti composed several operas for the Queen’s private theatre.
  4. In 1719 he travelled to London to direct one of his operas at the King’s Theatre.
  5. Between 1719 and 1727 he was living in Lisbon where he taught music to the Portuguese princess Maria Magdalena Barbara.
  6. After two years back in Rome he moved to Seville and then to Madrid in Spain to continue as music master to the Princess who was to become the Queen of Spain.


Domenico Scarlatti was a BAROQUE composer. He was born in the same year as two other great composers, Bach and Handel. Domenico’s father, Alessandro was also a successful composer. For much of his life he was employed by the Portuguese and Spanish royal families. Here is part of a painting of Scarlatti teaching Princess Barbara of Portugal:

He well know for writing 555 keyboard sonatas. Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas are single movements and mostly in binary from like this one in G major. Unusually, most of the Sonatas were composed towards the end of Scarlatti’s career after 1735.


  • Domenico Scarlatti wrote this music for the Harpsichord which was the popular keyboard instrument of the day. The Harpsichord can only play at one dynamic level. In this version the dynamics and articulation have been added by the editor to make it more suitable to play on the piano for the exam. Listen to how the opening might sound on a Harpsichord with some added ornamentation:
  • Although the tempo is marked Andante it should not be too slow. You might need play it a shade faster than the tempo suggested to maintain a sense of forward movement. Lightening the quavers to a mezzo-staccato will also help to achieve this:
  • The little grace note in bars 7, 11,19 and 23 should be very quick. Never let this group of notes sound like four even semiquavers:
  • The rising arpeggios figures must sound smooth and unbroken. Make you sure know your fingering well here with careful thumb movement underneath the hand:
  • A very slight rallentando at the end will round off the piece nicely:

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