Domenico Scarlatti and his Princess
Son of Alessandro Scarlatti of Naples and Palermo, of the same age as Bach and Handel, 1685-1757, the greatest of all cembalists, saved for posterity by a castrato.
He was so fond of his dear princess,
Barbara of Portugal,
that he was happy to remain
a prisoner of music in her care
throughout his long idyllic life.
Her treatment of her favourite musician,
on the other hand, appears as rather odd:
she was so fond of his sonatas
of exquisite musical delicacy,
that she would keep them to herself
and not allow them to be published.
Thus, some seventy were only published
in his lifetime, while the rest, 500 more,
did not see daylight until long after his death,
the first complete collection published 1971.
The odd thing is, that his best friend,
the famous Farinelli, a castrato,
driven into exile after Barbara’s demise,
took with him into Italy the one unique edition
of the 555 sonatas, one example in two volumes,
eventually one ending up in Parma, one in Venice,
not united to be published finally by Brahms.
But all this bother long after his death,
the worries and the problems of his scattared music,
all the masses, operas and other compositions being lost,
was no concern of poor Domenico,
who just was happy in the idylls of his Queen
to play for her his intimate sonatas
and forget about the worthless rest of all the world.