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Scarlatti was an Italian Composer of the Baroque Era. He was born in the same year as J.S. Bach (1685) and passed away in 1757. He is known for his 555 keyboard sonatas.
Things You Should Know
There are two main catalog systems for Scarlatti – Longo (L) and Kirkpatrick (K). Carl Czerny and Giorgio Pestelli also have catalog numbers, but they are rarely seen.
The Longo system, developed by Alessandro Longo in 1906, is a older and outdated catalog system. Longo was a Italian composer and musicologist who studied and taught at the Naples Conservatory. In 11 volumes, he presented all of Scarlatti’s works. Some teachers still prefer using this method, so it is good to try to memorize the L and K numbers of the Scarlatti piece you are working on.
Longo features many editorial markings such as dynamics and phrasing.
The K numbers by Ralph Kirkpatrick are a more updated catalog system. Kirkpatrick claims that Longo uses poor chronology, and he puts Scarlatti’s works in a more appropriate chronological order. Also, he cites that certain works should be places in pairs.
Kirkpatrick’s edition for Scarlatti sonatas do not have editorial markings. He has introductory notes on performance practices. Kirkpatrick edited 60 Scarlatti Sonatas that are published by Schirmer (I wish he would have edited all 555 sonatas though).
Click here for a list of Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas in relationship with each catalog system.
Problems with Editions
I wanted to share just a little bit of what I discovered while looking at different editions of Scarlatti’s keyboard works.
Here’s a picture of some of the different editions I studied (borrowing the books from the USC music library)
Lets look at some issues with Sonata in E, K. 380.
Take a look at measure 56 at two different editions.
Here is a sample of a free version from IMSLP:
And here is an example of the Kenneth Gilbert Edition:
On the third beat of measure 56,there should be an F sharp in the bass note. The imslp version has an E there instead.
So from this, we can see that the Kenneth Gilbert edition is better than IMSLP. However, there is still a problem with the Kenneth Gilbert edition:
With measure 15, the sustained B should actually be a C sharp. When listening carefully to this recording by Horowitz, you can hear that the note is a C-sharp:
Best Editions Scarlatti
Yes, that’s right, Schirmer! Kirkpatrick’s edited sonatas are published by Schirmer, and they include the best critical editions of Scarlatti Sonatas that you can find. If you plan on learning any of the 60 sonatas located in this edition, you must buy this version!
You can see what sonatas are present in this edition by clicking here.
Edited by Eiji Hashimoto, a student of Kirkpatrick who followed in his footsteps. (Do not confuse this edition with the Ricordi set edited by Longo, which is also published by Dover) Contains 90 sonatas and uses the K catalog system (Sonatas 1 -90). In three volumes. Click here to see what the 90 sonatas are.
Ricordi Set edited by Longo. Contains 4 volumes. Each volume contains 40 sonatas.
Henle Verlag Urtext
A rather new edition of Scarlatti Sonatas published in 2006. A fourth volume of selected sonatas has recently been released (I can’t find it on Amazon). Edited by Sarah Cox.
Click here to see the selected Sonatas in Volume 1.
Click here to see the selected Sonatas in Volume 2.
Click here to see the selected Sonatas in Volume 3.
ABRSM Signature Series
Edited by Richard Jones. Features 9 keyboard sonatas that are critically edited. In 3 volumes. You can get a peek at what the score looks like by clicking here.
Alfred Masterwork Edition
Edited by Maurice Hinson. He features very interesting performance notes that explains ornamentation, articulation, and phrasing well. The editions by Alfred Masterwork focus on didactic purposes.
This book is recommended for intermediate level pianists. Contains 16 Sonatas.
This edition features 19 of Scarlatti’s easiest works. This is ideal for intermediate level pianists.
Features select sonatas for teaching purposes
Le Pupitre Edition
Edited by Kenneth Gilbert. Contains all 555 sonatas in 11 volumes.