The Great Composer Quiz, June 16, 2020
Father’s Day Week Edition
This time, it’s a Quiz about possessive fathers. This Great Composer, like his brothers and sisters, grew up under the paternal thumb of a powerful man who reigned over his family – a father not much inclined to relinquish an ounce of control over his children. The best scholarship likens this father-son relationship to that of a stern puppeteer, manipulating his son, and standing in whatever way his son was going. It got to where our Great Composer, at age 31, felt compelled to hire lawyers and make his independence a matter for the law to decide. Our Great Composer’s lawyers prevailed in court and he was granted “emancipation from all paternal control and obligations” so that he might have “complete ability, authority and power to do each and every lawful act, to be able to contract business or cancel it, to make a will, to make gifts or bequests, to buy and sell, etc.” So who was this son who sued his dad, this Great Composer?
Time’s up, pencils down, the Great Composer who had to call his dad first to see if it would be all right, whose lawyers helped cut his father’s puppeteer strings. The answer is Domenico Scarlatti and his domineering dad Alessandro Scarlatti. This may help to explain why Domenico did not publish any of his new music until after he left Italy, got free of his father and moved to Spain.
And look, friends, the story of the Scarlatti Family is also the opening to Dennis James Bartel’s novel High’d Up. One minute it’s crazy ass as a harpsichord, next minute the blues.