Domenico Scarlatti's Construction of a Spanish Style
AffiliationMelbourne Conservatorium of Music
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2021-09-02.
© 2018 Maria Luisa Morales Lopez Del Castillo
The question of Domenico Scarlatti’s Spanish style has been the subject of a significant body of commentary and analysis for more than a century. Over that period, Scarlatti’s Spanish idiom has generally been viewed through the prism of Alhambrism and flamenco music, two visions inherited from late nineteenth-century representations of Spain. The commercial success of flamenco as a multidisciplinary art representative of Spain, together with stereotypes of Spanish, Gypsy and Andalusian cultures, have thus shaped the reception of Domenico Scarlatti’s music in the twentieth and into the twenty-first centuries. This thesis deconstructs such narratives and investigates Scarlatti’s construction of a new Spanish style in its historical, cultural and musical contexts, drawing on the musical documents that are contemporary with the composer. Scarlatti’s years in Spain (1729-1757) coincided with an effervescent period in the genesis and development of what today are recognized as Spanish classical dances, seguidillas, boleros, fandangos and jotas. Those dances were performed in the theatres as part of the entr’actes (entremeses, sainetes) of dramatic plays (comedias). From there, they spread across Europe, replacing the chaconne and sarabande as the typical markers in the characterisation of Spanishness. Examples of these new Spanish dances abound within the entr’acte repertoire and have proven fruitful in identifying the dance-structure of certain sonatas by Scarlatti. This research has been reinforced by the author’s practical approach, namely through the observation of, and experimentation and performance with, Spanish dancers, both those with folk training and background and those trained in the bolero school. In the course of my research, I have examined and performed about 550 sonatas today attributed to Domenico Scarlatti in order to identify the Spanish sonata-dances discussed in this dissertation. Additionally, I have focused on the Essercizi, the earliest dated collection of Scarlatti’s keyboard works, to explore the composer’s new keyboard language and construction of a distinct Spanish idiom. The applications of this research to performance are illustrated in a series of recordings and a DVD.
KeywordsDomenico Scarlatti; Jean Philippe Rameau; Spanish music; keyboard music; keyboard instruments; harpsichord; fortepiano; Flamenquism; Alhambrism; Exoticism; Spanishness; Sonata-dance; Seguidilla; Bolero; Fandango; Essercizi; Sainete; Entr'acte music; Ballet de cour
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