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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 February 2015


The VI Concertos in Seven Parts published by Benjamin Cooke under Alessandro Scarlatti's name in 1740 have long been suspected of being either arrangements or works by a different composer. Close study of the sources, some of which have only recently come to light, shows them to be arrangements of sonate a quattro, four composed by Alessandro Scarlatti and two by his younger brother Francesco. The unacknowledged compiler and arranger of the set was almost certainly Charles Avison, who in addition made a significant compositional intervention. The publication of the concertos formed part of a pioneering strategy on Cooke's part whereby he acquired, and under the protection of a royal privilege engraved, significant works in manuscript owned (but not composed) by individual musicians within his circle. Among the latter was John Christopher Pepusch, whose role in the first publication of Domenico Scarlatti's sonatas k31–42 is described for the first time.

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1 Small, John, ‘The Development of Musical Copyright’, in The Music Trade in Georgian England, ed. Kassler, Michael (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), 281Google Scholar.

2 Small, ‘The Development of Musical Copyright’, 278 and 299.

3 The National Archives (Kew, UK), SP 36/41, f. 291. John Humphries (c1707–1733) was a violinist and composer who at the time of his early death had appeared in print only with violin sonatas.

4 31 January 1739. The National Archives, SP 36/47, f. 42.

5 In all other respects, the engraved privilege sticks to the wording of the petition very closely in the relevant portions of the text. We have consulted the privilege included in both volumes of Domenico Scarlatti's XLII Suites de pieces in the copies sharing the shelfmark e.32.f. held by the British Library.

6 The National Archives, SP 36/47, f. 42A.

7 On Domenico Scarlatti's possible presence in London in 1719–1720, which would have enabled him to meet Pepusch and his wife in person, see Boyd, Malcolm, Domenico Scarlatti: Master of Music (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1986), 2831Google Scholar.

8 Pagano, Roberto, Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti: Two Lives in One, trans. Hammond, Frederick (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon, 2006), 307Google Scholar.

9 This edition, which Scarlatti dedicated to John V of Portugal, may have doubled as a leaving present made by Amigoni (who had been very active as a scene painter for the opera as well as a portrait and history painter) to his British patrons prior to his departure for the Continent in 1739. This would make it a musical counterpart to the new edition of Paolo Rolli's Italian translation of Bonaventure d’Overbeke's Reliquiae antiquae urbis Romae (carrying the title Degli avanzi dell’antica Roma; London: Edlin, 1739) that Amigoni, by now very wealthy, financed from his own pocket, as the volume's Preface explains. Amigoni, or whoever saw the edition through the press, appears to have got wind of Cooke's intention to publish Scarlatti sonatas, since the press advertisement for them ends with a pre-emptive swipe at anticipated ‘incorrect printed Editions’.

10 Read's Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, 28 April 1733; Daily Journal, 3 May 1733.

11 This nomenclature appears as early as 1726 in a press announcement of an edition of Geminiani's arrangements of the first six sonatas of Corelli's Op. 5 published by Cooke and Daniel Wright; it was still current in 1785, when Charles Wesley advertised a ‘Concerto Grosso, in Seven Parts’.

12 Small variations in ‘concerto grosso’ instrumentation occur. For example, the viola can be reassigned to the concertino, or else both concertino and ripieno can have their own viola part. Viola parts belonging to the ripieno were sometimes implicitly or explicitly ad libitum, since where players were short, the sacrifice of these parts did least harm to the music. A fundamental principle was that concertino parts were never doubled, whereas part-sharing was always permitted (though never compulsory) for ripieno parts.

13 For example, the seventh of Handel's Twelve Grand Concertos (1740) is a ‘ripieno’ concerto from start to finish, while the last concerto of Corelli's Op. 6, the foundation stone of the tradition, operates for most of its length as a solo concerto, denying the second concertino violin prominence at any point.

14 The totals are those of numbered pages containing music; they exclude title-pages and pages left blank.

15 These details are taken from the example in the British Library shelfmarked g.1052.

16 Scarlatti notates with three sharps the E major aria ‘Che sarà, chi a me lo dice’ in his ‘Cantata pastorale’ (1716) Non so che più m’ingombra (Hanley 476). F major is the only key out of the six represented in the set for which ‘old’ and ‘new’ key signatures are identical.

17 Good comparators within Scarlatti's own oeuvre are the twelve autograph Sinfonie di concerto grosso (1715) once owned by William Boyce and today in the British Library (R.M.21.b.14.) and his seven quartet-sonatas with recorder included in an anthology of twenty-four works of this kind in Naples (I-Nc, Musica Strumentale 34–39).

18 The form can be represented schematically as A1 A2 :∥: B A1 C A2 :∥.

19 Unaware of the true chronology of the two movements, Charles Burney observed, in his correspondence with Thomas Twining, that Geminiani's minuet was ‘very like one in the same key, among old Scarlatti's concertos, in Melody and Conduct’ (in impugning Geminiani's originality, he was of course innocently assuming that the finale of the second of the VI Concertos was Scarlatti's, not Avison's, composition). For the context of this remark see Careri, Enrico, ‘The Correspondence between Burney and Twining about Corelli and Geminiani’, Music & Letters 72/1 (1991), 42CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

20 On the decline in viola making see Hill, W. Henry, Hill, Arthur F. and Hill, Alfred E., Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work (1644–1737), reprint of 1902 edition (New York: Dover, 1963), 107108Google Scholar.

21 Avison, Charles, An Essay on Musical Expression (London: Davis, 1752), 19Google Scholar. The 1753 text is reprinted, together with an ample commentary, in Dubois, Pierre, Charles Avison's ‘Essay on Musical Expression’ (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004)Google Scholar.

22 This is the case in Corelli's Op. 6 (where the ripieno itself is optional) and also in Handel's Op. 6.

23 Modal shifts, dramatic pauses and diminished sevenths are of course typical of the Neapolitan ‘school’ in general, and of Alessandro Scarlatti in particular. It is specifically the contrast with the four minor-key works (where these features are absent) that attracts attention here.

24 RISM A/I/7 (1978) lists for the Cooke edition (S1187) twelve locations: D-B, GB-Cpl (incomplete), GB- Cu (incomplete), GB-HAdolmetsch, GB-Lbl, GB-Ob, I-Rama, NL-Uim, S-Skma, US-NH, US-NYp and US-Wc. RISM A/I/14 (1999) lists one further example in RUS-Mrg (as SS1187).

25 Chevill, Elizabeth, Music Societies and Musical Life in Old Foundation Cathedral Cities 1700–60 (PhD dissertation, University of London, 1993), 286Google Scholar.

26 Steblin, Rita, A History of Key Characteristics in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries, second edition (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2002), 39Google Scholar, quotes the following early characterizations of F minor: ‘complaints and lamentation’ (Rousseau, 1691); ‘gloomy and plaintive’ (Charpentier, c1692); ‘sad and lugubrious’ (Masson, 1697); ‘tenderness and plaints, mournful songs’ (Rameau, 1722).

27 Burney, Charles, A General History of Music, from the Earliest Ages to the Present Period (London: Payne, 1776–1789), volume 3, 546nGoogle Scholar.

28 Mercure de France, February 1742, 355. No example of this edition appears to have survived. A year or two later, Hue also engraved the second concerto separately.

29 It is in his oratorios, such as San Filippo Neri of 1704 (D-MÜs, SANT Hs. 3860) and Il giardino di rose of 1707 (D-MÜs, SANT Hs. 3861), that we see Scarlatti most explicitly adopting the vocabulary and resources of the Roman orchestral world, with scores headed ‘Concertino’ and ‘Concerto Grosso’ in Corellian style (although some examples from Naples exist, such as the 1696 serenata Genio di Partenope, Gloria del Sebeto, Piacere di Mergellina). A telling instance of adaptation is seen in the 1706 revision for Rome of Venere, Adone, et Amore from its original four-part scoring (for Naples in 1696) to concerto-grosso scoring (D-MÜs, SANT Hs. 3945). But more commonly throughout his work, including this serenata, Scarlatti's concertino consists of solo violin and cello (often the only instrument to be designated in his scores) rather than the regular Corellian concertino of two violins and cello.

30 ‘Cavaliere’ was a title that Scarlatti received from Pope Clement XI in 1715. This year is obviously a terminus post quem for the copying of the four sonatas, but since the manuscripts are non-autograph, the presence of the title does nothing to clarify the date of composition, which may have been much earlier. Edward Dent's assumption, in ‘The Earliest String Quartets’, The Monthly Musical Record 33 (November 1903), 202–204, that the sonatas ‘belong to the last decade of the composer's lifetime’ (203) seems over-confident.

31 The bibliographical individuality of the first (F minor) sonata, which has only a single title-page, is complemented by other features, musical in nature, that set it slightly apart from its three companions. Perhaps it was the ‘prototype’ work, the others being added later, in the chosen key sequence, to produce a set.

32 Dent must also have seen in Münster the study scores made of the same four sonatas (plus other instrumental works by Alessandro Scarlatti) by Santini himself (D-MÜs, SANT Hs. 3957), in which their description as ‘Quattro Quartetti a due Violini Viola e Basso’ strongly implies that the Italian collector anticipated and perhaps also influenced the English scholar's view of their scoring.

33 GB-Cfm, MU.MS.1581 (formerly 32.G.3.). We will return to consider this source later.

34 Dent, ‘The Earliest String Quartets’, 203. In writing ‘Cooke's’, Dent was probably using shorthand to denote any person who supplied the publisher with the printer's copy.

35 Dent, ‘The Earliest String Quartets’, 203. Although this copyist remains unidentified, he is possibly Cosimo Serio, who copied music by Alessandro Scarlatti in Rome in the early years of the century, as documented in Ursula Kirkendale, ‘Handel with Ruspoli: New Documents from the Archivio Segreto Vaticano, December 1706 to December 1708’, Studi musicali 32/2 (2003), 316–317 and Plates 7a and 7b.

36 Dent, ‘The Earliest String Quartets’, 203.

37 In Sonatas 2 (C minor) and 3 (G minor), the third of four movements; in Sonata 4 (D minor), the third of five movements.

38 Dent, ‘The Earliest String Quartets’, 204.

39 The reason for Dent's confusion of the sonata and concerto texts in this instance must have been that, as he himself records, he was consulting the already mentioned manuscript score of the six concertos in the Fitzwilliam Reference Library as a handy alternative to scoring up the parts of the sonatas.

40 Dent, ‘The Earliest String Quartets’, 203.

41 Boyd, Malcolm's observation in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, ed. Sadie, Stanley and Tyrrell, John (London: Macmillan, 2001)Google Scholar, volume 22, 383, that ‘the provenance and attribution of this set as a whole remains problematic’ (he apparently does not reject the possibility of the third concerto's authenticity) sets the tone. A more emphatic denial of Alessandro Scarlatti's authorship of the VI Concertos, at least in their seven-part layout as concerti grossi, occurs in a CD review by Peter Holman (Early Music Review 81 (June 2002), 17–18), where one reads: ‘It is worth pointing out that the set as published by Cooke is almost certainly a forgery’. While the term ‘pasticcio’ would be more appropriate, Holman's doubts are supported by the facts. Presciently, he comments on the stylistic contrast (with the four Sonate a quattro) of the third and sixth concertos, drawing particular attention to the uneven musical quality of the sixth concerto, which, he writes, ‘sounds as if it was written in England rather than Italy by someone at least a generation younger than Scarlatti’.

42 We thank the staff of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France for providing information on, and a microfilm of, this important source, which is undoubtedly the earliest among those surviving. The three preserved works have independent shelfmarks: Sinfonia 2a a 4o in C minor is D-9171; Sonata 3a a 4o in G minor is D-9172; Sinfonia [4a] a 4o (lacking its bass part) in D minor is D-8967.

43 Kirnbauer, Martin, Vieltönige Musik: Spielarten chromatischer und enharmonischer Musik in Rom in der ersten Hälfte des 17. Jahrhunderts (Basel: Schwabe, 2013), 4651 and 189–197Google Scholar.

44 Letter from Alessandro Scarlatti to Ferdinando de’ Medici (Rome, 28 August 1706), transcribed in Fabbri, Mario, Alessandro Scarlatti e il Principe Ferdinando de’ Medici (Florence: Olschki, 1961), 8384Google Scholar.

45 These volumes without shelfmark are in fact albums containing music by Avison himself and by various other composers whose works he collected and/or arranged. Much of the music is written in Avison's own hand, but some items were entered by members of his family or his wider circle. The period when the workbooks were in use is estimated by Simon Fleming (in private communication) as 1730–1770. The background, bibliographical features and content of the two workbooks are discussed in detail in Kroll, Mark, ‘Two Important New Sources for the Music of Charles Avison’, Music & Letters 86/3 (2005), 414431CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

46 Kroll, ‘Two Important New Sources’, introduces a misleading inaccuracy into his inventory of this workbook when he writes (on page 428) that on folio 75v a ‘Fugal fragment’ by an unknown author begins: it is merely to the third and fourth movements of the first sonata, occupying folios 75v–76r, that he refers.

47 Southey, Roz, Maddison, Margaret and Hughes, David, The Ingenious Mr Avison: Making Music and Money in Eighteenth-Century Newcastle (Newcastle: Tyne Bridge Publishing, 2009)Google Scholar, illustration 11. For unexplained reasons, Kroll has subsequently revised his original hand identification, claiming that Avison's hand is instead the one that wrote into Workbook II (on pages 5–77) his arrangements as concerti grossi of violin sonatas from Geminiani's Op. 1. See Charles Avison: Concerto Grosso Arrangements of Geminiani's Opus 1 Violin Sonatas, ed. Mark Kroll (Middleton: A-R Editions, 2010), 183. Southey, Maddison and Hughes likewise identify as the composer's the hand (appearing in illustrations 6 and 7) that neatly wrote out the printer's copy of Avison's arrangements, with English words, of canticles by Clari, but a convincing case that this writer was his identically named son is made in Fleming, Simon, ‘Charles Avison Jnr and His Book of Organ Voluntaries’, The Musical Times 153 (Spring 2012), 98nGoogle Scholar.

48 Kroll, ‘Two Important New Sources’, 421.

49 Talbot, Michael, ‘Music from Avison's Workbooks’, Early Music 39/3 (2011), 435437CrossRefGoogle Scholar. We are also grateful to Christopher Hair for letting us have sight of the pages containing the sonatas.

50 The chronological sequence described for the three markings is an inference from the context rather than something that it is possible to establish objectively at this stage. The argument is not affected if ‘Allegro’ was written before ‘Larghetto’.

51 This habit is discussed in Malcolm Boyd, Domenico Scarlatti: Master of Music, 224–231. In the case of the Scarlatti sonatas, the changes are often motivated by Avison's quest to obtain slow movements in sufficient number for the concertos, or else to avoid excesses of speed impractical for amateur orchestras, as when ‘Presto’ becomes reduced to ‘Allegro’; on occasion, however, Avison's alterations are too subtle to have a clear purpose – as, for instance, when Geminiani's Op. 1 No. 1 is made to open ‘Grave’ rather than ‘Adagio’.

52 The British Library catalogue gives Cooke the incorrect title of ‘Dr’, which belonged to his homonymous son.

53 This letter was first published, with some minor errors, in Newton, Richard, ‘The English Cult of Domenico Scarlatti’, Music & Letters 20/2 (1939), 141142CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Given the reference to payment in ale and tobacco, Cooke's brother may be identical with the John Cooke, keeper of the Globe Tavern in Brydges Street, Covent Garden, who gave evidence in a trial at The Old Bailey on 16 April 1740 (information from <>).

54 The keyboard reduction frequently omits middle and even upper parts, but since it presents the harmonic structure of the music with a high level of accuracy and legibility, it would have served effectively as a reference score for the music.

55 Boyd, Domenico Scarlatti: Master of Music, 226–228, identifies three such insertions, but this is probably too cautious: there are nine further slow movements labelled by him ‘unknown’ that are on balance more likely to be by Avison himself than to come from any otherwise unknown Scarlatti sonatas.

56 MU.MS.158 (formerly 32 G 3). Since the library's catalogue, consultable via Cambridge University's Newton Library Catalogue at <>, provides a very full and accurate bibliographical description of the source, we give no further details here.

57 The Fitzwilliam score reproduces the tempo markings of the printed edition except for substituting ‘Allegro moderato’ for ‘Allegro’ in the opening movement of the second concerto.

58 R.M.24.i.13.(1.). The works run continuously (on folios 1–28) and are followed by a group of six sonatas for violin, cello and continuo, each occupying a separate fascicle and variously composed by Porretti (1), Porpora (1) and Costanzi (4). The assembly of the ten works in a common volume dates from the nineteenth century.

59 US-Wc, M317.M15 Op. 1, ff. 10v–14r. We thank the Library of Congress for supplying scans of the partbook and the information that it was owned until 1945 by the Scottish musician and collector Alfred Moffat (1863–1950), whose annotation reads: ‘the Basso part of some work not connected with the three books of McGibbon's Trio sonatas’.

60 Kroll, ‘Two Important New Sources’, 420–421 (discussion) and 427 (inventory entry). The sonatas are written in score continuously from folio 2r to folio 28r. The first sonata is headed ‘Sonate de Sig.r Scarlatti’; the ten subsequent sonatas are merely numbered. The keys of the sonatas (distinguishing major and minor by case) are: E, c, a, e, b, C, B flat, F, D, g and d. That they were planned as a set (perhaps of twelve rather than eleven works) is implied by the absence of any duplicated key.

61 Francesco Scarlatti: Six Concerti Grossi, ed. Mark Kroll (Middleton: A-R Editions, 2010). The E major sonata appears on pages 1–17, the F major sonata on pages 45–56; selected pages of both concertos also appears as plates.

62 Talbot, ‘Music from Avison's Workbooks’.

63 For a thorough discussion of evidence concerning whether Domenico Scarlatti visited England at this time see Boyd, Domenico Scarlatti: Master of Music, 28–31, who comes down in favour of such a visit.

64 Boyd, Domenico Scarlatti: Master of Music, 31.

65 Christopher Hair has rendered a service to Francesco's reputation by editing (Oxford: Oxford University Press, [1996]) his Miserere. We are grateful to Mr Hair for letting us have sight of the Workbook I copies of the Francesco Scarlatti sonatas.

66 A close thematic similarity between the opening of the final, giga-like movement of Francesco's eighth sonata and that of the duple-metre finale of Alessandro's first Sinfonia di concerto grosso, in the same key of F major, seems more than a generic resemblance. As will be suggested further on, it may in fact have been Francesco himself who in 1719 brought the autograph manuscript of his brother's Sinfonie to Britain.

67 This action sometimes produces an effect similar to the precautionary doubling of the viola by the cello, but its motivation is compositional rather than performance-related. Ultimately, however, both types of doubling are responses to the relative scarcity of violas and the lack of proficient players for them.

68 Avison's precise intention is not always clearly conveyed by these extra stems, but the lack of perfect intelligibility is understandable in a working score never intended for wider circulation.

69 The viola notes, reinforcing the first beats of these bars, are partnered by similar notes for the ripieno violins, extracted from the corresponding concertino parts.

70 Kroll, ‘Two Important New Sources’, 419. The ‘Musical Biography’ to which the annotation refers is doubtless William Bingley's two-volume reference work of that title, first published in 1814 in London.

71 A & D Scarlatti: Concerti & Sinfonie, Europa Galante / Fabio Biondi, Virgin Veritas 5 45495 2 (2004). A noteworthy precursor of this recording is that by the Solisti dell’Orchestra ‘Scarlatti’ Napoli under Ettore Gracis, Archiv 198442 (1967).

72 Solo Musica SM161 (2011). The performers are the casalQuartett.

73 The four sonatas are published in a critical edition by Halton, Rosalind as Alessandro Scarlatti: Four ‘Sonate a quattro’ (Launton: Edition HH, 2014)Google Scholar.

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