The history of Spanish piano music is not one of a solid, steadily progressive tradition. Spain produced great composers of sacred vocal polyphony, vihuela music, and organ music in the sixteenth century, its golden age of composition. Notable among the organ composers was Antonio de Cabezón. The seventeenth century featured such Spanish organists/composers as José Jiménez, Pablo Bruna, and Juan Cabanilles. Even in the eighteenth century, the era when the piano was invented and gradually took on promine nee all over Europe, Spain continued with its tradition of organ music, over three hundred works having been written by the noted José Elias. While the piano was in use in certain areas of Spain as early as the 1740s, the organ was more readily available to the numerous organists/priests, who made up the majority of the native Spanish composers for keyboard of the period.
Besides the organ, the harpsichord (clave, clavicordio, or clavícimbalo) and piano (fuerte piano or piano forte) are specified in the titles of Spanish keyboard music in the eighteenth century; e.g., Sebastián de Albero’s Obras para clavicordio о piano forte and Blasco de Nebra’s Seis sonatas para clave y fuerte piano.1 Many works, of course, do not name an instrument, but may have a title such as Sonata de clarines (by Soler), which indicates trumpet stops on the Spanish organ. However, the composition may clearly be in a lighter style more closely associated with the harpsichord or piano and not at all akin to imitative organ works such as the tiento. Thus, numerous works entitled “sonata” or “rondo” written by a host of Spanish organists/priests may indeed be organ works, but they strongly suggest a style more suited to stringed keyboard instruments and were probably performed on such instruments when available. One must realize this flexibility when approaching Spanish keyboard music of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Other factors also affected the course of Spanish piano music during the first hundred years of its evolution. In the late eighteenth century, the zarzuela became more “popular” in nature, but eventually it was eclipsed by the ever-increasing preponderance of Italian opera and the rise of the tonadilla escénica. Italian opera began to take a stranglehold in Spain as far back as the singer Farinelli. Gilbert Chase states that shortly after the arrival of Farinelli in Madrid (1737), the royal theater of the Buen Retiro became a veritable fortress of Italianism.2
The early nineteenth century was a time of great change for Spain. She was dragged into disastrous wars; she was invaded by Napoleon, who installed his own brother as the new monarch; and she suffered at the hands of her own Fernando VII. Revolution and anarchy kept her in constant upheaval. During this period, Spanish lyric theater continued to decline. By the 1830s, Spain’s native lyric theater was virtually nonexistent. The zarzuela had disappeared and the tonadilla had run its course. However, the popularity of Italian opera continued to rise in Spain.
During this “tug-of-war” between native Spanish music and Italian music, what of Spanish harpsichord and piano music? While Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin were writing their masterworks for harpsichord or piano, who were the major Spanish keyboard composers?
Apparently no harpsichord music was printed in Spain in the first part of the eighteenth century, the earliest of the century being Juan Sessé’s Seis fugas para órgano y clave of 1773. However, there are some small works for harpsichord preserved in a manuscript collection in the Biblioteca Nacional of Madrid entitled Libro de música de clavicímbalo del Sr. Dn. Francisco de Tejada 1721. Most of the 83 compositions in this collection are anonymous and quite simple in construction. Of the 45 minuets, many have titles such as Dueña hermosa (“Beautiful Mistress”) or Triste memoria (“Sad Memory”).3 These works pose a timid contrast to the magnificent works we are about to encounter by one of the most remarkable keyboard composers of all times, Domenico Scarlatti.
Any history of Spanish piano music must by necessity begin with DOMENICO SCARLATTI (1685-1757), the noted Italian cembalist who lived most of his productive life as a musician in Spain. Few Spanish keyboard composers after him have escaped his influence.
Domenico Scarlatti was born of a Sicilian family in Naples. He visited Florence in 1702, stayed in Venice for four years from 1705 to 1709, served in Rome for ten years until 1719, and then probably went directly to Lisbon. While in Lisbon, one of his main duties was to teach the daughter, Maria Barbara, as well as the younger brother of King John V of Portugal. Upon the marriage of Maria Barbara to Fernando, heir to the throne of Spain, in 1729, Scarlatti followed in her service to Seville, and from there to Madrid in 1733, where he remained until his death.
Scarlatti composed more than a dozen operas and several church compositions before he left Italy. However, none of his keyboard compositions can be placed with certainty before he reached the age of 40 and his service in Portugal. Except for a few fugues and dances, his important output in keyboard music consists of sonatas.4 Scarlatti composed some 550 sonatas, according to the noted scholar Ralph Kirkpatrick.5 The earliest sonatas, 30 in number, were published in London in late 1738 or early 1739 with the title Essercizi per gravicembalo. This edition was followed in 1739 by Roseingrave’s publication of 32 more sonatas under the title Suite de pièces pour le clavecin.6 However, the majority of the sonatas remained in manuscript during Scarlatti’s lifetime. They are preserved in four huge collections, with much overlapping of contents, in Venice, Parma, Münster, and Vienna.
Although Scarlatti employed the title Essercizi (“Exercises”) for his publication of 1738, the individual pieces he labeled sonatas. Occasionally he would use other designations, such as toccata, fugue y pastorale, aria, capriccio, minuet, gavotte, or gigue\ but generally throughout his total output, the term sonata was used.
For Scarlatti, sonata seems to indicate a one-movement composition in binary form, though a few early works are in several movements. However, some scholars contend that many of his sonatas were grouped in pairs or even in threes and were intended to be performed as such.
Ralph Kirkpatrick states,
The Scarlatti sonata is a piece in binary form, divided into two halves by a double bar, of which the first half announces a basic tonality and then moves to establish the closing tonality of the double bar (dominant, relative major or minor, in a few cases the relative minor of the dominant) in a series of decisive cadences; and of which the second half departs from the tonic of the double bar, eventually to reestablish the basic tonic in a series of equally decisive cadences, making use of the same thematic material that was used for the establishment of the closing tonality at the end of the first half. . . . The only thematic material that is nearly always subject to more or less exact restatement is that which is associated with those sections at the end of each half which establish the closing tonality.7
For this parallelism of cadential material, Kirkpatrick has coined the term crux. According to his definition, there is a point in each half of a sonata where the thematic material that is stated in parallel fashion at the ends of both halves establishes the closing tonality of each half.8 Thus, the crux is always dependent on these two factors—establishment of the closing tonality and establishment of thematic parallelism between the two halves.9 For illustrations of the crux, see Exx. 1 and 2.
Although we know that the new, expressive pianoforte was available in Spain to Scarlatti, we have reason to believe that he preferred the harpsichord.10 Queen Maria Barbara, Scarlatti’s employer, owned twelve keyboard instruments, five of which were pianofortes made in Florence, probably by Cristofori or his pupil Ferrini. Each of the palaces at Aranjuez and Escoriai had a pianoforte. However, there is little evidence that Scarlatti was in any way tempted to abandon the harpsichord for the pianoforte. Most of his later sonatas extended beyond the range of the queen’s pianofortes. Moreover, the early piano lacked the power and brilliance of the harpsichords known to Scarlatti. Kirkpatrick is of the opinion that the pianoforte was used at the Spanish court largely for accompanying, since Farinelli was fond of it, and that the harpsichord retained its superiority for solo music.11
Scarlatti treated the harpsichord in a highly idiomatic manner, which often requires great skill on the part of the performer. Patterns of brilliant figurations, arpeggios, wide leaps, rapid repeated notes, and hand-crossings all contribute to this unmistakable keyboard style.12 The difficult type of hand-crossing can be seen in Ex. 3.
Scarlatti also uses the harpsichord to emulate various timbres. A glissando appears in the Sonata in F major (K. 379/L. 73)—an ascending scale is marked con dedo solo (“with one finger”). Fanfare trumpet or horn themes abound in the sonatas, e.g., K. 96/L. 465, K. 119/L. 415; and the illusion of flutes and bagpipes (K. 513/L. suppl. 3) or bells (K. 482/L. 205) can also be found. Scarlatti often wished to suggest the strumming of the guitar, either by rapid repeated chords, often with dissonant percussive acciaccature, or by a swiftly repeated figuration in the bass.13
That Scarlatti was influenced by Spanish folk music is very evident in his sonatas. Dr. Charles Burney, on one of his famous musical tours in Europe, met a certain Monsieur l’Augier, who had been a close acquaintance of Scarlatti. Burney reports, “There are many pages in Scarlatti’s pieces in which he imitates the melody of tunes sung by carriers, muleteers, and common people.”14 We must not forget that Maria Barbara, Scarlatti’s employer, spent the first four years of her new life in Spain in Seville, and that during that time the court moved about various cities of Andalusia. Apparently, the very striking folk music of this region made an indelible impression on Scarlatti.15
Andalusian folk music is known the world over for its characteristic Phrygian sound, using the descending tetrachord la-solfa-mi or A-G-F-E; and for its Morrish version A-G-sharp-F-E. Scarlatti employed these scalar traits in many of his sonatas, but the Andalusian characteristics go beyond these patterns. The saeta is a form of cante improvised in the streets of Seville during the Holy Week processions. It is accompanied by a drum beating the rhythmic pattern ♩ ♬♩ ♩· Scarlatti’s Sonata in D major, K. 490/L. 206, is clearly a saeta. (See Ex. 4.)
Many other sonatas by Scarlatti reflect the ravishing, exotic sounds associated with folk music of Andalusia. Sonata K. 492/L. 14 has the characteristics of a bulerías; Sonata K. 502/L. 3 a peteneras; and Sonata K. 105/L. 204 the jota, to name only a few.
VICENTE RODRÍGUEZ (c. 1685-1760), probably the first native Spaniard to write keyboard sonatas, spent nearly 48 years as priest and organist at Valencia Cathedral. He was appointed to the post in 1713 upon the death of Juan Cabanilles, and held it until his own death on December 15, 1760.
It is not known whether Rodríguez already knew some of Scarlatti’s sonatas, such as the published Essercizi of 1738. William S. Newman contends that “it is more likely that this cleric, at his restricted post, was giving good evidence of how far such forms and styles had developed in the peninsula independently of Scarlatti’s arrival.”16
For many years the only work known by V. Rodríguez was the Sonata in F major published by Joaquin Nin in Vol. II of his Classiques espagnols du piano, 1929.17 However, it has now come to light that a harpsichord manuscript of 31 sonatas resides at the library of the Orfeó Català in Barcelona.18
The title page of the Rodríguez collection reads as follows:
DE TOCATAS PARA CIMBALO
POR TODOS LOS PUNTOS DE UN DIAPASON,
Con la advertencia, que por todas las teclas blancas estan por
tersera menor, y tercera mayor á excepcion de las negras,
que por 10 desasinado de los Terminos, no
estan mas, que por el que menos disuena.
POR M. VISENTE RODRIGUEZ PRESBÍTERO
Organista Principal de la Metropolitana Yglesia de Valencia.
The opening of the title, Libro de Tocatas, might seem confusing at first, but not if we remember that the words toccata and sonata were regularly interchangeable in this period, and not if we note that each piece is designated sonata within the manuscript.
The collection contains thirty sonatas followed by a two-movement Pastoreia in G major, which is in effect a thirty-first sonata. The total number of pieces is forty-four, with the majority being one-movement sonatas. Ten are multi-movement; of these, seven have two movements in the order slow-fast, and three have three movements in the order fast-slow-fast. In a few cases, movements lead directly from one to another and are incomplete by themselves.
Sixteen of the individual movements are in the Scarlatti bipartite form, all but one of these constituting single-movement sonatas. As with Scarlatti, the first half cadences on the dominant or relative major, and the halves are generally balanced, though at times the second half is greatly expanded through development. Ex. 5 is taken from the opening of the stately Sonata in Α-flat major, one of V. Rodríguez’s most attractive works.20
A number of the remaining works have been categorized by Almonte Howell according to familiar compositional types: (1) concerto-ritornello: recurring theme of tutti character separated by solo-like figurai episodes; (2) etude or toccata: perpetuum mobile figure that gives rise to varied forms of related figures in continuous motor activity; (3) invention: theme and countertheme alternate between the hands. A few movements begin with quasi-fugal expositions, though, as in Scarlatti, fugal procedures are never maintained for long.
Howell states that V. Rodríguez, like many transitional figures, tries to enjoy the best of both worlds—Baroque and Classic. But within this fluctuation, he is not totally successful. He tends to carry on figurations and sequences much too long and to wander harmonically with no clear sense of tonal goal. Anyone who has examined Spanish keyboard music of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries will find these “faults”—long-windedness and harmonic meandering. They appear to be native Spanish traits, endemic to the music. But, as Howell states, perhaps they are deliberate esthetic aims. Could centuries of intimate exposure to an alien Near Eastern culture have left a lingering fondness among the Spanish people for the static, the contemplative, the immobile, the goal-less, in contrast to Westerners’ continual haste to be in motion from one preplanned point to another through the most efficient means of transport? At any rate, we have not seen the last of this characteristic in Spanish keyboard music.
Padre RAFAEL ANGLÉS (с.1730-1816) was a native of Rafales in the province of Teruel; he eventually became Chapelmaster of the Alcañiz (Teruel) Collegiate. In April 1761 he competed with other musicians for the organist position recently vacated by V. Rodríguez in Valencia. The chair was won by Manuel Narro, a Valencian whose technique was supposedly equal to that of Anglés. According to the committee of judges, Anglés was ahead of his time—”he exceeds in modern style.” Apparently, to them, this “modern style” was not in keeping with the traditional music of the church.21 Nevertheless, on February 8 of the following year, Anglés was named first organist of Valencia Cathedral, where he remained until his death.22
Nin, in Vol. II of Classiques espagnols du piano, made available the following works by Anglés: Adagietto in B-flat major, Sonata in F major, Aria in D minor, and Fugatto in B-flat major.23 In 1970, Sonata in Ε minor and another Sonata in F major were published by Union Musical Española, José Climent, editor.
All three sonatas by Anglés are in binary form. The one in F major (from the Nin collection) and the one in Ε minor (Climent edition) are of the Scarlattian crux type, whereas Sonata in F major from the Climent edition shows the influence of the more modern sonata-allegro form, complete with exposition, development, and recapitulation. This third sonata shows other “modern” tendencies in that Anglés has placed piano and forte markings within the opening phrases of the work, probably indicating the piano rather than the harpsichord or the organ.24 See Ex. 6.
The Adagietto in B־flat major is also in binary form and of the Scarlattian crux type. This work exhibits, as does the Sonata in F major from the Nin collection, Anglés’ penchant for fluctuation of mode.
The influence of Haydn is evident in all the aforementioned works except the Aria in D minor. Here we find Anglés reaching back to Bach’s Italian style to produce a singing melody over a slow-moving bass. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of its type in the Spanish literature.
SEBASTIÁN DE ALBERO (1722-1756), of Roncal, Navarra, was one of the most promising talents in Spain during the eighteenth century. Unfortunately, he died at the early age of 34. Having been named first organist of the Royal Chapel in 1746 at age 24, he was a musician in the service of Fernando VI, which places him in the circle of Scarlatti.25
An undated manuscript at the Biblioteca del Real Conservatorio Superior de Música in Madrid contains some of Albero’s keyboard works. It is entitled Obras para clavicordio о piano forte and is dedicated to Fernando VI. Since Albero died in 1756.and Fernando VI was king from 1746 to 1759, the works must have been written between 1746 and 1756. A likely date would be 1746, the year AÍ־ bero was appointed first organist to the Royal Chapel. The collection might have been a special gift to the king in appreciation for his employment. In any event, these works seem to be the earliest in Spain that specifically indicate “piano” in the title.
The first use of the words piano e forte in a title was by the Italian Lodovico Giustini of Pistoia in 1732 in his Sonate da cimbalo di piano e forte detto volgarmente di martelletti.26 However, the word pianoforte, or some similar usage, did not appear regularly in titles of keyboard music in Spain or elsewhere until the 1760s; in Spain, this trend was represented by some minuets by Joaquin Montero dated 1764. The earliest use of the word in France was by Nicholas Séjan in 1765, and in England by John Burton in 1766. The early use of piano forte in the title by Albero indicates that Spain was keeping abreast of the times, if not a bit ahead of other parts of Europe in this particular instance.
Each work by Albero in the manuscript collection in Madrid has the unusual title Re с er cata, fuga y sonata.27 From the two works available for study in modern edition, one can see that the term recercata implies the improvisatory type of sixteenth-century lute ricercar with free sequential passages, much like a prelude. Both r ecer catas by Albero have a meter signature of С but no bar lines. Although specific note values are used, there is no doubt that the work was intended to be performed in a free, somewhat improvisational manner, similar to the preludes of Louis Couperin, although L. Couperin’s preludes have no time signatures and all notes are written as being equal in value.
Both recercatas are in the minor mode and tend to linger on the raised fourth and seventh degrees of the scale, giving the works a biting, pungent quality. Harmonically, they are very adventure״ some. The Recercata in С minor briefly touches on В minor, C-sharp minor, and A minor in its middle section; and the Recercata in D minor has a striking enharmonic modulation to F-sharp minor from Ε-flat major, as seen in Ex. 7.
The fugues tend to be a bit long and tedious; e.g., the Fugue in D minor is 300 measures long, and the Fugue in С minor, 451 measures. Moreover, the Fugue in D minor has a basic eighth-note movement in 6/8 with no rhythmic variety. However, it does have a rhythmically stirring conclusion over a pedal point. In the Fugue in С minor, shorter note values begin to give some rhythmic relief a little over halfway through (m. 259). Again, there is an exciting finish, this time with an interesting use of the low register of the keyboard.
The two sonatas are of the Scarlatti binary design with crux. The harmonic boldness of the recercatas carries over somewhat into the sonatas, and the Sonata in D major smacks again of Scarlatti, with its folk influence and acciaccature. See Ex. 8.
A separate collection of 30 sonatas (Sonatas para Clavicordio) by Albero can be found in Venice manuscript 9768,28 which was apparently copied by the same scribe who copied the Parma manuscript of Scarlatti and most of his works in Venice manuscripts 9770-9784. Joel Sheveloff, who has made a thematic index of these 30 sonatas by Albero,29 states, “the harmonic language, phrasing, form, motivic development and keyboard technique are quite close to Scarlatti, though the quality of the sonatas does not quite reach that of his master.”30 Sheveloff even goes so far as to say that Albero may very well be the nearest disciple to Scarlatti’s unique style.
Though I would not regard Albero in quite that light, the influence of Scarlatti’s techniques is readily apparent in both sets of sonatas by Albero. What was the real relationship between Maria Barbara’s established composer of sonatas and the young organist of the Royal Chapel? Was Albero a disciple, collaborator, or rival of Scarlatti at the court of Fernando VI? We do not know the answer, but it is interesting to note that on the dedication page of the Madrid manuscript, Albero does not mention the name of the queen, Maria Barbara, who was a noted keyboard student of Scarlatti. This fact might suggest a rivalry, but perhaps Albero was intentionally devoting all his attention to the king in appreciation for his employment.31
Padre ANTONIO SOLER (1729-1783), one of Spain’s chief keyboard composers in the eighteenth century, was born in the Catalonian town of Olot de Porre ra. At the age of six, he was admitted to the famed Escolania of Montserrat, where he made rapid progress with his musical studies. In 1752, at age 23, he became a monk and was appointed organist and choirmaster at the Escoriai monastery northwest of Madrid.
It was during the first five years at the Escoriai that Soler supposedly received instruction from Scarlatti. On the title page of a collection of Soler’s sonatas the composer is described as “discepolo de Domenico Scarlatti”;32 also, an autograph of 27 sonatas that Soler gave to Lord Fitzwilliam of Cambridge bears the following note written and signed by Lord Fitzwilliam: “The original of these harpsichord lessons was given to me by Father Soler at the Escoriai, 14th February, 1772; Father Soler had been instructed by Scarlatti.” From these sonatas came the posthumous and only eighteenth-century publication of Soler’s sonatas. They were issued by Birchall of London, probably in 1796.
When Scarlatti died in 1757, Soler took over his duties as keyboard tutor to the royal family and as the supplier of sonatas for Scarlatti’s pupils. Presumably, Soler wrote most of his keyboard works for the Infante Gabriel of Bourbon.33
The Scarlatti-type sonata evidently served as the model for Soler.34 Soler employed the one-movement form cast in binary design. However, as with Scarlatti, many of the sonatas appear to fall into groups of two or more movements.35 The internal structure of a typical Soler sonata is usually very close to that of a Scarlatti sonata, complete with crux. Ex. 9 shows Soler’s use of the principie of the crux.
In many of the Soler sonatas, one finds the same technical devices as those employed by Scarlatti; e.g., repeated notes and hand-crossings (Ex. 10). Soler also employs such Scarlattian devices as difficult trills (R. 10), passages in thirds (R. 17), large skips and octaves (R. 10), and even a glissando (R. 66/i).
Although Soler has not proven to be an innovator in form, he does demonstrate originality in his modulations. That is not surprising when we consider that he wrote an important theoretical work, Llave de la modulación y antigüedades de la música (Madrid, 1762), which reveals his advanced ideas on modulation.36 Besides writing about music, Soler invented and built musical instruments. He constructed a string and keyboard instrument that he called afinador (tuner) or templante (temperer), which was intended to make evident the division of a tone into nine parts, or commas.
Occasionally, Soler betrays a more galant style than did Scarlatti, as seen in his Sonatas R. 41 and R. 66. Newman finds other signs of this style and of a later generation than Scarlatti in the “comical bits of melody in the deep supporting basses (R. 10), cadential trills on penultimate dominant notes (as at the double-bars in R. 3), and the melodic appoggiaturas and feminine endings (as in R. I and at the double-bars in R. 56, another remarkably modern sounding, complete ‘sonata form’).”37 Ex. 11 shows Soler’s midcentury galant style.
Soler manifests his Spanish heritage in many of his sonatas. Native dance rhythms can be observed in Sonata in D minor, R. 24, a soleares; Sonata in G major, R. 4, a bolero; Sonata in C־sharp minor, R. 21, a polo; and Sonata in F-sharp major, R. 90, a seguidilla (Ex. 12).
Soler also wrote a work for keyboard entitled Fandango, built on an ostinato figuration in the lower register that provides the basis for variation above it. It is one of his most colorful works, replete with guitar and castanet effects. See Ex. 13.
Although Scarlatti might not have preferred the new, expressive pianofortes because of their limited range or lack of brilliance compared to the larger harpsichords, by the 1760s and 1770s, as the piano became more popular throughout Europe, newer and larger models might have been imported to the Escoriai, and Soler could have written his sonatas for the new, popular instrument of the day.
The earliest piano building in Spain seems to be that of Antonio Enríquez. In 1780, he constructed in Zaragoza some címbalos or claves in imitation of the pianos fortes in Holland and England. In Seville in 1783, Juan del Mármol, builder of harpsichords, made some pianos grandes de orquesta. Between the years 1784 and 1787 in Madrid, Francisco Flores constructed pianos in the English style. He was thought to be one of the best piano builders of the time and consequently supplied pianos for the principal homes of the court.38
JOAQUÍN OXINAGA (1719-1789) held various organ posts—Burgos, Bilbao, Toledo, and the Royal Chapel in Madrid. His Sonata in С major and two short minuets are now in modern edition.39
The Sonata in С major is cast in “modern” sonata-allegro form with a return of the initial idea. The suave galant style probably places it in the 1760s or later. The two minuets are extremely brief, sixteen measures each, with no contrasting trio sections, but they are quite charming.
JUAN SESSÉ (1736-1800 was born in the village of Calanda near Alcañiz. He studied in his native village and in Zaragoza, at first intending to pursue a course in philosophy, but because of difficulty with his eyes, he decided on the profession of organist.
After moving to Madrid, Sessé first held the post of organist at San Felipe de Neri, but eventually became one of the organists at the Royal Chapel. Late in 1768 or at the beginning of 1769, he was appointed third organist, moving to second organist in 1787, a post he held until his death.40
Sessé’s keyboard works include Seis fugas para órgano y clave (1773), Doce minuetes para clavicordio (1774), Ocho divertimentos para clave o forte-piano (1784), and Cuaderno terc ero de una соleccion de piezas de música para clavicordio, forte-piano y órgano, Op. 8.41
Many of Sessé’s works were published by Copin of Madrid, 1773-1790, but, of the printed editions, apparently only the Seis fugas para órgano y clave (1773) has survived.42 What makes this volume of special interest is that it appears to be the first extant Spanish publication of keyboard music since the 1626 Facultad Orgánica by Correa de Arauxo.43 The six fugues are somewhat “pianistic,” as was typical of much of the Spanish organ music of the period, though Sessé’s preferred instrument was probably the organ.
FÉLIX MÁXIMO LÓPEZ (1742-1821) began as fourth organist to the Royal Chapel in Madrid in 1775, and by 1805 had been promoted to first organist. He continued in this post until his death. Unfortunately, very little is known about him before his appointment to the Royal Chapel.44
The keyboard music of López is preserved in twelve manuscripts at the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid. Alma Espinosa’s exhaustive dissertation (Espinosa/”López”) provides a thematic index of the keyboard works as well as an edition of selected works, including sonatas, rondos, Variaciones al Minuet Afandangado, and Capricho in E major. Sonata in G minor, a work not included in the Espinosa edition, has been published in Doderer !Spanische.
Generally, López’s works do not emphasize virtuosity. However, some works do contain wide leaps, repeated-note figures, octaves, and hand-crossings similar to those in many of the works of Scarlatti and Soler. See Ex. 14 from Música de clave. But these technical problems are seldom as difficult as those found in the sonatas of López’s famed predecessors.
López’s sonatas are all multi-movement works and in the galant style of the mid-eighteenth century, though the composer lived into the early nineteenth century. Ex. 15, from the opening of the finale in Sonata in С major (Música de clave, Espinosa edition), shows the fácil у buen gusto of this style with its two-to three-voice texture, “singing” melody, and simple accompaniment.
The title Variaciones al Minuet Afandangado suggests the influence of the fandango, but in López’s composition no such influence is apparent. This form usually employs quick changes between relative major and minor keys and certain recognizable rhythmic patterns, as can be found in Soler’s Fandango for keyboard. The López work shows neither the harmonic nor the rhythmic characteristics of the typical Spanish fandango. Occasionally, however, when this dance is used in art music, some of these characteristics are lost. Perhaps López was following the example of Gluck (Don Juan) and Mozart (Figaro) by using a préexistent melody.45
Of his total output for keyboard, Espinosa finds the sonatas the most interesting. She states that “his use of a clear articulation at the beginning of the recapitulation marks him as one of the most progressive Spanish composers of his generation.”46 John Gillespie goes a step further in saying that the finest sonatas by López are the two in С major written for four hands.47
Although the sonatas come from a manuscript entitled Música de clave (“Music for Harpsichord”), they are definitely styled for piano technique and even contain expression markings commonly associated with the piano. Undoubtedly, they were intended for piano or harpsichord—whichever was available.
JOSÉ LIDÓN (1746-1827) was born in Béjar, Salamanca.48 He became organist at the Royal Chapel in Madrid in 1768 and served in that position for 37 years, until 1805, when he became chapelmaster there and rector of the king’s Real Colégio de Niños Cantores.
Keyboard works by Lidón include Seis piezas о sonatas para órgano and Seis fugas (1792).49 Nin mentions a treatise by Lidón entitled Règles pour les organistes et les amateurs de piano (1775), but does not speak very highly of it, stating that it is simply a manual about accompaniment.50
Thus far, only one work by Lidón has been made available (other than organ works such as intentos) —Sonata de Io tono para clave o para órgano con trompeta real.51 Kastner points out that on the title page of a 1787 publication, Lidón calls himself “Master of the Italian Style at the Royal College.”52 Although we cannot verify this claim from the single sonata available for inspection, Newman calls this work “a tightly knit, harmonically strong piece in binary design that whets the appetite for more in spite of its conservative, motivic stylé and close resemblance to many of the shorter, more concentrated pieces of Scarlatti.”53
JOAQUÍN TADEO MURGUÍA (1758-1836), originally of Basque origin, became organist of the Cathedral of Málaga. He was noted for his ability to improvise at the organ, and, according to Rafaël Mitjana, wrote Sonates pour piano, for four hands.54 Murguía’s works are in MS in the archives of the Cathedral of Málaga.
Two very important but little known Spanish composers of harpsichord and piano music in the late eighteenth century were MANUEL BLASCO DE NEBRA (1750-1784) and JOAQUÍN MONTERO (C. 1764-C. 1815). They are mentioned jointly because they both worked in Seville and both wrote collections of keyboard music entitled Seis sonatas para clave y fuerte piano (“Six Sonatas for Harpsichord and Piano”), thus providing a good basis for comparison.
The Library of Congress possesses what is apparently the sole copy of the eighteenth-century edition of the Blasco de Nebra sonatas.55 These six sonatas, listed as Op. 1, are the only known extant pieces by Blasco de Nebra. According to the Library of Congress, they were published in 1780 in Madrid. The library of the Orfeó Català in Barcelona owns what is possibly the only surviving eighteenth-century edition of the Montero sonatas, also listed as Op. 1. They, too, were published in Madrid, but ten years later, in 1790. Baciero/Nueva biblioteca III:ix־x mentions that five of the Blasco de Nebra sonatas can be found in a MS in the archives of the Cathedral of Valladolid.
Little biographical information is available about Blasco de Nebra except that he was a pupil of his uncle José de Nebra and that he was organist at the Cathedral in Seville. Several sources indicate his tenure there as 1750 to 1784.56 But these dates are in fact his birth and death dates, announced in the Gaceta de Madrid, December 30, 1785.57 This periodical also states that he composed 172 works.
Information on Joaquin Montero also is woefully lacking. Baltasar Saldoni indicates that he was organist of the parish church of San Pedro el Real in Seville in the second half of the eighteenth century.58 In addition to the six sonatas, Montero published a Compendio armónico in 1790; some sonatas and minuets in 1796; and another treatise, Tratado teórico-práctico sobre el contrapunto, dated 1815, a copy of which is available in the Biblioteca Capitular y Colombina of Seville and in the Biblioteca de Catalunya in Barcelona.
From a dated manuscript in the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid, we can assume that Montero was active as a composer as early as 1764. Halfway through the manuscript, which is entitled Joan Roig y Posas y Comercian en Barcelona 1764, we read: Síguese 12 Minuetes para Clave y Piano Fuerte, compuestos por D. Joaquin Montero (“Following Are 12 Minuets for Harpsichord and Piano, composed by D. Joaquin Montero”). Actually there are only ten minuets in this group. They are very concise, contain no contrasting trio sections, and possess a great deal of charm.59 But what is more important, they represent some of the earliest Spanish keyboard works that specifically indicate the piano in the title.60
Only a few years later, in 1780, Blasco de Nebra’s Seis sonatas para clave y fuerte piano, Op. 1, appeared. They contain no
dynamic or other editorial markings except for minimal tempo indications, but the use of the piano is made likely by long tones that must be sustained in order to project songful lines (Sonata No. 5/1), by searching, dissonant harmony that seems to call for the most subtle nuances (Sonata No. 1/i), by rapid passages in octaves for each hand (Sonatas No. 4/ii and No. 2/ii), and by ever-changing textures.61
In 1780, the fact that the range of the sonatas exceeds five octaves would not necessarily point to any one instrument. But, by the time of Montero’s Seis sonatas para clave y fuerte piano, Op. I, of 1790, there is no doubt that the piano is the preferred instrument, for there are numerous indications of piano and forte as well as signs for crescendo and decrescendo.
The most obvious similarity between the Blasco de Nebra sonatas and the Montero sonatas is that both collections contain six sonatas, each in two movements of contrasting tempos: a slow movement paired with a faster movement. (As we have observed with Scarlatti and Soler, the pairing of sonatas was not uncommon in Spain at this time.) In both sets of sonatas, each movement employs the usual binary design with repeated halves. Nine of the twelve movements of Blasco de Nebra’s sonatas exhibit embryonic sonata-allegro form. Only one movement is closer to the Scarlattian type of sonata.
Both Blasco de Nebra and Montero display well-defined syntax in the phrase structure of their sonatas, this characteristic placing them closer to Haydn and Mozart than to Scarlatti, but in their persistence of repetition of short musical ideas, they are more similar to Scarlatti. However, their motives are more likely than Scarlatti’s to be extended into complete themes. In Ex. 16, from Blasco de Nebra’s Sonata No. 3/i, note the pungent Scarlattian appoggiaturas within the clear phrase structure. Compare that passage with Ex. 17 from Montero’s Sonata No. I/i, which is decidedly more akin to the style galant, with its series of restless, shortwinded clauses marked off by rests.
Both composers wrote in an idiomatic style for the keyboard. It is remarkable, particularly for two Spanish composers following Scarlatti, that their sonatas do not contain hand-crossings. The chief difficulty in the right hand in the Blasco de Nebra sonatas, beyond the usual requirements of broken-chord figures and scalar passages, is the playing of broken octaves and tenths in figuration. Ex. 18, from Sonata No. 5/ii, shows Blasco de Nebra’s striking use of leaping tenths in both hands. One of the most difficult passages in the Montero sonatas occurs in Sonata No. 5/ii. The movement is marked presto and involves two measures of broken thirds followed by two measures of harmonic thirds in the right hand, reminding one of Clementi. See Ex. 19.
Concerning accompaniment figures, the use of the Alberti bass is notably absent from the Blasco de Nebra sonatas, but is distinctively present in the Montero sonatas. This one stylistic feature figures prominently in contrasting the two composers. However, Blasco de Nebra comes closest to the “Classic” spirit in the last movement of Sonata No. 6, where he uses an oscillating accompaniment to set off a Haydnesque melody (see Ex. 20). Compare that with a similar spirit in the excerpt from Montero’s Sonata No. 2/ii, in which there is a true Alberti bass pattern (Ex. 21).
Another stylistic distinction between the two Spaniards can be seen in Blasco de Nebra’s telling use of guitar effects, for example, the rasgueado, or strummed-chord technique. Kirkpatrick describes this effect, which appears quite often in Scarlatti’s sonatas, as “savage chords that at times almost threaten to rip the strings from the instrument.”62 Note that this seems to be the intention of Blasco de Nebra in Sonata No. 3/ii (see Ex. 22). We cannot consider his use of this effect unusual since he worked in Seville, the very heart of Andalusia. One other harmonic trait of Blasco de Nebra that shows the influence of Scarlatti is the presence of acciaccatura chords (Sonata No. 5/ii). Joaquin Montero, composing in the more cosmopolitan style a bit later, was not at all interested in transferring guitar effects to the keyboard, though he too worked in Seville, or in writing such biting dissonances as those found in the Scarlattian acciaccatura chords.
Newman describes Blasco de Nebra aptly when he states,
insofar as his one youthful set of sonatas permits us to know him, [he] seems to be the peer of Scarlatti and Soler in originality, force and depth of expression. His language, for the most part, is no closer than Soler’s to that of the high Classic masters. In fact, his penetrating, sometimes anguished dissonances, suggest the earlier 18th century.63
Montero, however, was more influenced by the universal language of the high Classic masters. Almost all the movements of his sonatas approximate sonata-allegro form and show a very lucid melodic organization, which often reveals a balance of antecedent and consequent phrases. Alberti bass or similar accompaniment patterns help to create motion and provide a backdrop for his many songful melodies. Although it cannot be said that Montero was the peer of Haydn or Mozart, he left us some delightful sonatas in his first published opus.
As a result of the publication of anthologies by José Antonio Donostía and Antonio Ruiz-Pipó, we are able to investigate more thoroughly keyboard music from the Basque region of Spain.64 Ruiz-Pipó’s edition, Música vasca del siglo XVIII para tecla, offers a sampling of Basque keyboard music taken mostly from the monastery of Aránzazu, a cloister not as well known as Montserrat or the Escorial.
At the monastery of Aránzazu, there is known to have been an organ, a harpsichord, several Spanish oboes (flageolets), bassoons, and a children’s choir, but no piano.65 Again, the accessibility of the organ proves significant. Moreover, many of the composers were organists/priests, but they too were aware of the ever-changing styles from across the Pyrenees and tended to compose accordingly.
JOSÉ LARRAÑAGA (c. 1730-1806) was a Franciscan monk and chapelmaster at Aránzazu. Evidently he was quite knowledgeable about organs, since in 1789 he was engaged as a technical expert for the planned organ in the parish of Tolosa.
Ruiz-Pipó has published four sonatas and a work entitled La Valenciana by Larrañaga in his edition. Larrañaga employs full sonata-allegro form in two works (Sonatas in D major and G major) and the Scarlatti-type design in the other two (Sonatas in С major and D minor). Sonata in С major, like some sonatas we shall encounter by the Catalan Baguer, possesses a symphonic style reminiscent of early Haydn, while Sonata in D major contains a touch of the Spanish folk element. Sonata in D minor is the most appealing work of the lot, nearer to Scarlatti than the rest. Note the wailing appoggiaturas and guitar effects in Ex. 23.
MANUEL DE GAMMARA (active 1772-1786) was chapelmaster of the Real Sociedad Vascongada in Victoria. The only other information known about him is that he wrote an opera called El médico avariento (1772). Only two of his keyboard works appear in Música vasca, a brief Verso in С major and Sonata in A minor. Apparently he wrote other sonatas, but they have been lost. Sonata in A minor opens in Vivaldi fashion, with steady driving Baroque pulse, but soon lapses into a more pre-Classic style. The design is binary with no recapitulation of the opening theme.
FERNANDO EGUIGUREN (b.1743) was born in Eibar and became a priest at Aránzazu in 1759. The solitary keyboard work known by this Basque composer is entitled Concierto Airoso, though it resembles a sonata in binary form. The Concierto exhibits a symphonic martial opening with many figures common to the string section of a Classical work. Unusual is the fact that Eguiguren introduces a new lyrical theme at the point where the recapitulation is expected.
Padre ANDRES LONBIDE (b.1745) of Elgueta, Guipúzcoa, became organist of the parish of Santiago in Bilbao. Of his musical activities, we know that he wrote a treatise entitled El arte de organista and Seis sonatas para clave y violín, now lost. His keyboard work in the Ruiz-Pipó edition, the single-movement Sonata in D major, displays a binary design with no recapitulation of the initial idea. This work in 6/8 features a general symphonic style with oscillating patterns in the accompaniment and a somewhat unfocused harmonic style that lacks good tonal direction.
Padre AGUSTÍN ECHEVERRÍA (d.1792) we know only that he died at Aránzazu, where there are preserved sacred works dated 1756 to 1791. The one-movement Sonata in E־flat major by Echeverria (from Música vasca) has a return to the opening theme in the tonic, thus showing his awareness of mature sonata-allegro form. It is simply constructed from incessant repetitions of ideas with no motivic development, a trait found all too often in Spanish keyboard music of the period.
MANUEL DE SOSTOA (b. 1749), from the town of Eibar, became a priest at Aránzazu in 1764. He was supposedly an outstanding composer of sacred works. Preserved at the monastery are works by Sostoa dated 1768, 1801, and 1802.66 Only one work, Allegro in D major, has been published in Ruiz-Pipó’s anthology. Despite its title, it manifests the characteristics of a sonata, complete with binary form and return of the opening theme in the second half. With all its simplicity, this small work has more immediate appeal than many of the Basque compositions thus far available for study. Its melodic charm, logical accompaniments, and Spanish folk influence all add to its attractiveness.
Three other composers who worked in and about the Basque region must be considered here. Of JOSÉ FERRER (active 1780֊ 1781), it is known only that he was organist at the Cathedral of Pamplona and that in 1780 he published in Madrid Seis sonatas para forte piano ó clavicordio, followed in 1781 by Tres sonatas para clave y forte piano con acompañamiento de violín.67 So far, none of these works have been rediscovered, but a miscellaneous manuscript at the Biblioteca de Catalunya in Barcelona contains two sonatas by José Ferrer.68
MATEO PÉREZ DE ALBÉNIZ (d.1831), father of Pedro Al-béniz (1795-1855), was a noted chapelmaster in Logroño and San Sebastián. According to Nin and Saldoni, he enjoyed the greatest esteem among his contemporaries.69 Only one sonata of his is known, Sonata in D major, with lively patterns in 6/8, probably a zapateado.70 The binary design, complete with crux, recalls Scarlatti, but the hammer-stroke cadences and phrase syntax betray a later generation.
JULIÁN PRIETO (1765-1844), of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, studied composition in Zaragoza with Xavier Garcia and was known to have had a beautiful tenor voice. Later, he became the organist at the Cathedral of Pamplona. According to François-Joseph Fétis, the noted French music historian of the nineteenth century, he wrote melodies of “good taste and of grace.”71
Sonata in С major in three movements by Prieto has been published in Baciero/Nueva biblioteca I.72 The first movement has a binary structure with no recapitulation of the main theme. Again we see that the Scarlatti-type design has penetrated all regions of Spain. However, the style is galant, with triplet patterns for accompaniment. The second movement, Andante con espresione, is unusually short, only sixteen measures. The rondo finale proves to be the most attractive movement of the sonata, with its energetic right-hand sextuplet figures and Mozartean trills on the supertonic and leading tone driving to the cadence.
Padre ANSELMO VIOLA (1738-1798) was born in Torruela, Gerona, and was educated at the famed monastery of Montserrat, where he eventually became chapelmaster.
Thirteen manuscript sonatas for organ or harpsichord by Viola are preserved at Montserrat.73 One of these, Sonata in D major, published in Doderer/Spanische, opens with strokes of tonic and dominant and a texture more akin to many sinfonias of the period (see Ex. 24). The gay festive mood also characterizes the second theme, which features a two-voice texture and horn fifths. The most striking aspect of the work is the startling excursion to C-sharp minor in the development section that leads to a recapitulation in the dominant. Fétis even notes Viola’s bold modulations.74
Padre NARCISO CASANOVAS (1747-1799), of Sabadell near Barcelona, received his training at the Escolania of Montserrat and became one of the most celebrated composers and organists at Montserrat. Saldoni attests to his ability as a performer:
Padre Casanovas was one of the better, if not the best organist of his epoch; according to those who heard him, he had no rival. Peculiarly, his fingers were so big that with the tips of them he covered the keyboard completely and no one understood how he played so cleanly and with such surprising execution, without stumbling on the other keys, because the width of the keys had very little space for each finger.75
Twenty-four sonatas by Casanovas are extant, three of which are entitled Sonata per clarins.76 Eight of the keyboard sonatas plus a Rondo have been issued in a modern edition.77 Five of them show a more mature sonata-allegro form with recapitulations of the main thematic material; while the other three are more of the Scarlatti type, with parallel thematic return near the end of each half of the binary designs.
Sonata in A major (No. I in the Pujol edition) is one of Casanovas’ most attractive works in print (see Ex. 25). It has an Italianate sparkle and features very idiomatic writing for the keyboard.
Although FELIPE RODRÍGUEZ (1759-1814) was born in Madrid, he became a monk and organist at Montserrat. Later he returned to Madrid to serve in the affiliated Montserrat church.
The music archives at Montserrat preserve a manuscript collection that includes eighteen sonatas in one to three movements and sixteen rondos by F. Rodríguez. The sonatas are designated for organ, but here again we encounter a Spanish organist writing in a style featuring Alberti basses and other light chordal accompaniments, a style more associated with the piano by the late eighteenth century.
Fifteen of the sonatas and Rondo in B־flat major are available in modern edition.78 The Roiido is indeed a captivating, light, playful work with many aviary trills that almost seem to “twitter” and “chirp” Of the sonatas in print, thirteen movements contain binary structures with no recapitulations, while nine exhibit a more mature sonata-allegro form. All the three-movement sonatas and two of the two-movement sonatas end with rondos.
One of the most attractive stylistic characteristics of F. Rodríguez is the folk-dance atmosphere he creates with a guitarlike figure featuring an internal pedal point (see Ex. 26). Very often these passages prove to be the most interesting sections of the works.
JOSEP VINYALS (1771-1825), of Terrassa, near Barcelona, studied at Montserrat and at age nineteen joined the monastic order there. He also became one of the many organists of the famous monastery.
At age sixteen Vinyals composed five sonatas Para diversión del Sr. D. Infante, but the identity of the Infante is not known. A more mature Sonata in E־flat major has been published in modern edition.79 It is in two movements, a presto in complete sonata-allegro form and a Rondo, Tempo di Menuetto. The first movement appears more satisfactory than many works by Vinyals’ Spanish contemporaries. In appraising this sonata, Newman says, “Vinyals uses fewer ideas, makes more of them and organizes them into simpler, broader forms.”80
FREIXANET (born c.1730) was most likely a Catalan composer. No information about him is available, not even concerning his name. Three sonatas by Freixanet have been published in modern editions—Sonata in G major and Sonata in A major,81 and Sonata in B־flat major.82
Sonata in G major is of the Scarlatti type with crux, while Sonata in A major shows signs of early sonata-allegro form with full recapitulation and two major themes. Sonata in B-flat major bears resemblance to sonata-allegro form but with only partial recapitulation. The opening of the main theme does not recur, but the subsequent phrase does return in the tonic key.
All three sonatas show the influence of the galant style—frequent series of triplets, appoggiatura “sighs,” “Scotch snaps” (Lombard rhythm), general two-voice texture.83 Ex. 27 illustrates many of these salient features, which were common to Spanish composers as well as to the whole of Europe in this period.
Of the composer CANTALLOS (c.1760), nothing is known, not even his complete name. One work has been attributed to him, an attractive Sonata in С minor, which has been published in Nin/ Classiques I and in Marchi ! Clav ic e mb alisti.84
Sonata in С minor is of the Scarlatti type, complete with crux. According to Nin, it recalls the zapateado, with a stirring syncopated conclusion to both halves of the bipartite design. Notable also is the remote modulation to G-sharp minor in the second half of the work. Of this striking work, Newman goes so far as to say it “is an effective piece, with more textural and thematic fiber, more tonal and keyboard enterprise. . . .”85
BLAS SERRANO (c.1770) is yet another Spanish composer about whom we know virtually nothing. Only one solitary Sonata in B־flat major gives evidence of his existence.86 This one-movement sonata is “a delightful Italian aria, full of charm, elegance and tenderness.”87 It proves to be more “modern” for its time than the work by Cantallos, or, as Newman states, “decidedly more advanced in style and syntax, suggesting the homophony and cantabile themes of Christian Bach in spite of its surfeit of short trills.”88 This work indeed attests to the fact that Spanish styles did not lag far behind the rest of the continent at that time.
JUAN MORENO Y POLO (active 1754-1776) was organist at the Cathedral of Tortosa, province of Tarragona. The only other information we have about him is that he wrote “Sonatines” described as charming and advanced for their time.89 His brother JOSÉ MORENO Y POLO (d.1773) was born in La Hoz, Aragón, and died in Madrid. José studied in Zaragoza and was appointed second organist of the Basílica del Pilar. Later he became first organist of the Cathedral of Albarracín, Teruel, where he entered the priesthood. Among his works there are supposedly 100 sonatas in manuscript.90
JOSÉ GALLES (1761-1836), a Catalan monk and organist born in Castelltersol, served as chapelmaster at the Cathedral of Vich north of Barcelona. Gallés’ extant keyboard works are preserved in a manuscript volume in the Biblioteca de Catalunya of Barcelona. The collection contains 23 sonatas, six of which are published in modern edition.91
All 23 of the Gallés sonatas are in the traditional binary form, but it is noteworthy that only three (Nos. 20, 21, and 22) are cast in the more “modern” sonata form (with recapitulation of the first theme), and that they are among the last in the manuscript collection. Six (Nos. 4, 17, 19, 21, 22, and 23, as numbered in the MS) have major cadences marked with fermatas and the term arbítrio, indicating a free elaboration or short cadenza at this point in the work (see Ex. 28). This term was also used in some of the sonatas of Felipe Rodriguez, Josep Vinyals, and Anselmo Viola.
Although the style of Gallés is essentially rooted in the Classical idiom, he does not let us forget that he is a Spanish composer, employing colorful folklike material in his sonatas; e.g., in Nin/ Classiques II, the Sonatas in A־flat major, В minor, B-flat major, С major, and С minor (see Ex. 29). The most appealing work of the group is Sonata in F minor (No. 17 in Nin/Classiques II and No. 8 in Marchi/Clavicembalisti), a “toccata” type with driving figurations, close finger work, and hand-crossings. Noticeable here is the excursion into Α-flat minor in the second half, climaxing with a German augmented-sixth chord.
Although there are many exciting and colorful passages in the Gallés sonatas, they suffer from a symptom often found in works by a number of his Spanish contemporaries—incessant repetition. According to Newman’s exhaustive study of the sonata idea, instead of motivic working-out, many Spanish sonatas of this period simply contain melodic fragments that are merely repeated until the repetitions or slight alterations thereof add up to the phrases and periods needed to fill out a section.92
CARLOS BAGUER (1768-1808) of Barcelona became organist of the cathedral in his native city. Very little is known of his life except that he composed operas, oratorios, and motets, as well as works for the keyboard. Some of his keyboard works, all in manuscript, can be found in the Biblioteca de Catalunya and the library of the Orfeó Català in Barcelona. The manuscript at the Orfeó Català is entitled Sonatas de Pe Fray Antonio Soler que hizo para la diversion del Sereníssimo Senor Infante Don Gabriel, Obra I a y 8a, Año 1786, Joseph Antonio Terrés, 1802. Included in this collection of Soler sonatas are six sonatas and four rondos by Carlos Baguer.
All the sonatas are in single movements in binary design and exhibit mature sonata-allegro form except the first one, in F major. This piece is more akin to the Scarlatti sonata, with parallel thematic return near the end of each half. Nevertheless, the style is more the cosmopolitan language of the generation of Haydn and Mozart than that of Scarlatti.
The texture of the sonatas is often more symphonic than keyboard-oriented; for example, the bold opening in octaves of Sonata in G major, with a sudden contrast as if scored for woodwinds; and the opening of Sonata in B-flat major, with its horn fifths in the left hand and string tremolo effects in the right hand.
Regarding Baguer’s harmony, two passages stand out in the sonatas above all others. Just before the arrival of the second theme in the Sonata in G major (mm. 24-25), two different augmented-sixth chords are introduced at the cadence on the dominant of the dominant. The first altered chord, spelled F-A-D-sharp (F-A-E-flat), resolves as a dominant to its fifth-related chord of B-flat, which in turn becomes B-flat-D-F-G-sharp and resolves finally to the dominant of the dominant (see Ex. 30). The other passage occurs in Sonata in B-flat major, where Baguer begins the second theme in the key of D-flat major instead of the traditional F major, with a resulting tertian relationship.
Neither the sonatas nor the short, superficial rondos by Baguer are profound pieces for keyboard when compared to similar works of the time by Haydn or Mozart. Nonetheless, they exhibit attempts by a little-known Spanish composer to keep abreast of the times, during an age when Italian vocal music was steadily mounting in popularity in Spain.
MATEO FERRER (1788-1864), a student of Francisco Queralt, was one of the most outstanding musicians from Barcelona in the first half of the nineteenth century. He studied organ, piano, contrabass, and flute. In 1808, at age 20, he succeeded Baguer as organist of the Cathedral in Barcelona, a position he held for 56 years. In 1830 he was also named maestro de capilla of the cathedral. M. Ferrer even eventually replaced the famous Ramón Carnicer as maestro of the theater of Santa Cruz.93
Unfortunately, only one keyboard work by M. Ferrer is available for study, Sonata in D major, published in Nin/Classiques I. Nin gives no details of the manuscript source other than he had a “very old copy” and that this work is the first movement of a “grande sonate.”94
Although M. Ferrer lived well into the Romantic period, his Sonata in D major demonstrates his preference for the Classical style. This work is in mature sonata-allegro form. It opens in symphonic style with a rocket figure reminiscent of the Mannheim school. Probably its most striking aspect is a beautiful deceptive cadence that uses the lowered sixth scale degree in the second theme. This composition inspires hopes that more works by M. Ferrer will soon be discovered.
The Italian Domenico Scarlatti had by far the most influence on Spanish keyboard composers of the eighteenth century. The style and form of a typical Scarlatti sonata was emulated by numerous Spanish composers of that period, with a gradual shift to the newer trends of Haydn.
Although Scarlatti’s sonatas, at the hands of a good performer, can be effective on the piano, they truly come to life with the bite of a plucked stringed keyboard instrument. Because of problems of range and lack of brilliance, Scarlatti most likely preferred the harpsichord to the newer pianofortes at the Spanish courts.
Scarlatti composed some of the most difficult music ever written for harpsichord, though much of it is in a highly idiomatic manner. His keyboard style is characterized by brilliant figurations, arpeggios, wide leaps, rapid repeated notes, and hand-crossings. He wrote many colorful works that suggest various timbres, e.g., fanfare trumpets, flutes, bagpipes, and the ever-present guitar, which he emulated melodically as well as harmonically. No less appealing are his many sonatas that were influenced by Spanish folk music. In certain works, he uses obvious material from the saeta, bulerías, petener as, and jota.
The influence of Scarlatti on native Spanish composers is especially noteworthy in the works of the Valencian Vicente Rodríguez, the first native Spaniard to write sonatas (1744); Sebastián de Albero, who was possibly the first Spaniard to use “pianoforte” in the title of a keyboard collection, perhaps as early as 1746; Antonio Soler, the single most important disciple of Scarlatti and a composer of great stature in his own right; Manuel Blasco de Nebra, who worked in Seville and who left us some extraordinary works with a mixture of eighteenth-century styles; and José Larrañaga, of Basque origin, who shows that he was equally at home with the Scarlatti style and the more galant trend. Though the Catalan composers often used a form similar to that of many of Scarlatti’s sonatas, they more often steered away from the basic procedures associated with Scarlatti, choosing instead the mid-century style in addition to a bit of local color.
Since the terms clavicordio, clave, órgano, címbalo (clavecímbalo), and pianoforte (fuerte piano) were all used in Spanish keyboard music of the eighteenth century, one must approach the matter of “the correct instrument to be employed” with some flexibility. Some works indicate para clavicordio о piano forte and others para clave у fuerte piano or para órgano у clave. Spanish keyboard works with contents similar to that of Scarlatti’s sonatas sound best on the harpsichord, of course. However, many of the Spanish organists/priests no doubt performed their works, regardless of style, on the instrument most available to them, the organ. Those works of égalant character seem more desirable today on a stringed keyboard instrument, especially a replica of an eighteenth-century pianoforte.
One curious aspect regarding terminology is Albero’s use of the term clavicordio instead of clave or címbalo in his Obras para clavicordio о piano forte and Sonatas para clavicordio. One wonders if he specifically intended the clavichord or was using the term in a general sense to indicate harpsichord or clavichord. Antonio Baciero, in the preface to his edition of Albero’s Sonatas para clavicordio, vol. I, contends that Albero’s use of the term clavicordio should be treated the same as Scarlatti’s indication for harpsichord (cembalo) and that our term for clavichord today was indicated in Spain traditionally by the term monacordio.
One aspect that, in many cases, sets eighteenth-century Spanish keyboard music apart from other European keyboard music of the period is its use of regional or folk material. As we have already noted, Scarlatti employed guitar effects as well as actual Spanish folk rhythms in his sonatas. This practice was followed especially by Albero, Soler, Blasco de Nebra, Larranaga, F. Rodriguez, and José Gallés. Following a more universal trend, Montero (Seville), Prieto (Navarra), Freixanet (Catalonia), and M. Ferrer (Catalonia) wrote works that sound as if they might have been written by any European composer of the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. The Catalan composers Viola and Baguer, as well as the Basque composers Larranaga, Eguiguren, and Lonbide, even wrote keyboard works in a galant style that are symphonic in nature and reminiscent of the Mannheim school.