Music Used on This Website

RembrandtThe music used on the web site is from Baroque composers Pietro Locatelli and Domenico Scarlatti.

The opening music is a concerto by Locatelli who has a particularly strong connection with Amsterdam. Locatelli was born on September 3, 1695 in the city of Bergamo, Italy. Somewhat of a violin prodigy, he left Bergamo in 1711 to study music in Rome under the tutelage of Arcangelo Corelli. Word of his talent spread and he found himself concertizing in a variety of Italian cities. Choosing not to spend his life as a court musician, in 1729, he moved to Amsterdam, a city without a court but with great opportunities to publish his music. Amsterdam was well-known as a place with a thriving music publication business with Vivaldi and many other Italian composers having published their music there as well.

Because of this climate of free enterprise, Amsterdam was a particularly good choice of location for a prolific, ambitious musician like Locatelli. He had freedom to compose whatever musical works he chose. For Locatelli, this probably meant taking on no pupils, but giving evening concerts in the home of wealthy patrons. It was said that he preferred that no musicians attend these events because he was afraid of their plagiarizing his works. While he was in Amsterdam, he composed his most famous works, L’Arte del Violino, a group of 12 violin concerti issued with 24 capriccios for solo violin. Because he eschewed being employed by any one client, he was free to compose in any style and for any taste he chose. This resulted in compositions that were innovative and melodic as well as technically demanding.

Locatelli’s decision to settle in Amsterdam was a smart one. The States of Holland and West Friesland (birthplace of Saskia van Uylenburgh, Rembrandt’s first wife) gave him permission to print his own music and sell it from his home. He also sold books that he acquired throughout Europe. This kind of business enterprise was freely allowed in Amsterdam and it appears that Locatelli took full advantage of it. Upon his death in Amsterdam on March 30, 1764 at the age of 69, a large library was discovered in his house. This contributed to the wealth he had apparently amassed during his life.

The piano sonatas that underscore the biographical slideshow are from Domenico Scarlatti, a contemporary of Locatelli. Scarlatti was born in Naples, Italy on October 26, 1685, ten years before Locatelli. Like Locatelli, his prodigious musical gifts were discovered early on and his father, the well-known composer Alessandro Scarlatti, became his son’s first teacher. And also like Locatelli, he traveled throughout Italy and achieved a reputation as a skilled musician. He left Italy in 1719 and due to the efforts of the Portuguese ambassador to the Vatican, settled for a while in Lisbon, where he taught in the royal court. In 1728, upon returning to Rome where he married. He then left for Seville and, in 1733, Madrid. When the princess he had tutored in Seville became Queen of Spain, Scarlatti followed her to Madrid and remained there for twenty-five years. This is where he composed a number of the virtuoso keyboard sonatas for which he became well-known and celebrated. Scarlatti died in Madrid on July 23, 1757.