Scarlatti- A Forgotten Composer

The title of this post is a little misleading because some pianists play a lot of Scarlatti.  However, I would say the general public does not know a lot (or anything at all) about this great piano (keyboard) composer.  In this article I will try to describe why the composer is great and why you should try to learn some of this pieces if you are serious about becoming better at the piano.

Beautiful Music

Just like Bach’s music, Scarlatti’s music is incredible and beautiful.  Some of his sonatas are the most joyous pieces of music that you can find.  See k.119 or k.96 as examples.  Yet some of his other pieces are so incredibly tender that you wonder whether the same person really composed both types of pieces.  See k.380 for an example of that type of piece.  Some of his music was well ahead of its time and many consider a large number of his sonatas ‘romantic’ pieces.  I would say k.27 is a great example of a ‘romantic’ piece, even though it was written in the baroque era.  If you haven’t listened to any of his music, I would look into either Horowitz’s or Pletnev’s recordings.  They are top-notch and seem to bring out the best that the pieces have to offer.  Horowitz specifically was a really big fan of Scarlatti’s music and was known to play a few of his pieces at a large number of his concerts.  Even if you don’t want to learn his music, it is well worth the time investment to listen to his music.  Check it out soon if you haven’t already.

Technical Benefits Galore

Aside from the high musical quality of his pieces, the technical benefits you gain from learning his pieces are immense.  First, there are specific techniques, such as repeated notes and hand jumps, that are rampant throughout his music.  You will develop those techniques very quickly.  Furthermore, you will learn finger and hand dexterity pretty quickly and you will develop a really great scale and arpeggio technique from playing his pieces.

The best part about learning Scarlatti’s pieces is that you can use them to replace boring and redundant technical exercises.  In my opinion, you will be in the same position technically by playing his pieces versus practicing Hanon exercises, for example.  The benefit of playing his pieces is that you have amazing music to show for it.  Not only do you get to really develop technical piano skills, but you also get to expand your repertoire with really great music that everybody will love.

It’s hard to hype up a composer without having you listen to his music or try learning his pieces.  Give his pieces a listen and then consider buying some sheet music.  His music isn’t overly difficult, compared to the harder works of other great composers, but the pieces are always challenging and will provide you a great benefit.  Give this composer a chance and you will surely be rewarded.

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