Happy Sunday, friends.
The guitar as we know it today was most certainly not an instrument used in early music. The modern classical guitar (& all its various descendants) is in many ways a 19th century invention, a thorough re-working of an instrument that lacked many of its current properties, especially in terms of sound projection.
Of course there was the baroque guitar, which is an ancestor of our modern instrument, without question, but there were a number of dissimilarities, & also the baroque guitar was primarily a continuo instrument, & as such its voice often was not featured. Of course, the classical guitar as we know it today is primarily a solo concert instrument.
Still, much music from the Baroque period & even earlier has been adapted for the classical guitar. The repertoire of Gaspar Sanz, Sylvius Leopold Weiss & Robert de Visée, who all wrote for both baroque guitar & lute, is often adapted, as are works by the well known Baroque composers—obviously, Bach, whose cello & lute works in particular have been transcribed & often performed, but also other well known composers of the time, such as Vivaldi, Handel & others. & so, rushing in where angels fear to tread, I’ll be featuring classical guitar performances of Baroque music this month on Early Music Sunday.
Here we have guitar virtuoso John Williams' performance of Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in D minor, K. 213, originally written either for harpsichord or the early form of the pianoforte. If you’re curious, you can hear this piece played on a piano at this link.
Domenico Scarlatti was Italian by birth, but lived much of his life in Spain & Portugal, where he was music master for both royal families. He was the son of Alessandro Scarlatti, who was a renowned composer himself, especially in terms of the early opera.
Scarlatti arrived in Lisbon in 1719, & became music teacher to Portuguese princess Maria Magdalena Barbara. After spending some time in Italy in the later 1720s, he moved to Sevilla in 1729, & in 1733 he traveled to Madrid to be rejoined with his pupil Maria Barbara, who had since married into the Spanish royal house. He is thought to have composed most of his keyoboard sonatas during his years in Madrid, where he stayed until his death at age 71 in 1757. Scarlatti, like Johann Sebastian Bach’s son, Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach, is seen as a composer who bridged the Baroque & early Classical periods.
A lovely version of this lovely piece of music—enjoy!
Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
Retrato de Domenico Scarlatti (Portrait of Domenico Scarlatti), Domingo Antonio Velasco, 1730 – public domain