Keyboard Sonata : Work information

Antonio (Francisco Javier José) Soler (Ramos) ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Virginia Black (Harpsichord)

This work

Work name
Keyboard Sonata
Work number
R. 74

This recording

Nicholas Parker
Nicholas Parker
Recording date

Track listing

  • 6:29 min

The Composers

Antonio (Francisco Javier José) Soler (Ramos)

Soler was born in Olot, Catalonia; his first education came from the school attached to the monastery of Montserrat, and he learn organ and harmony there.  He took holy orders in 1752 at El Escorial and was to remain there for the rest of his life.  At some point in the next four years it is thought he was able to receive lessons from Domenico Scarlatti, who was serving the Spanish court.  It was probably Scarlatti, whether in person of via his published works, who spurred Soler on to write his ebullient works for harpsichord; these include over 100 sonatas and a frequently performed Fandango.

Soler was prolific and industrious; he had to be, in order to combine his official duties wirh writing both music and treatises on musical theory.  He needed only three hours of sleep a night, and had a special easel constructed so that he could compose while in bed.  Many disapproved of him; he was nicknamed "...a devil in a monk's robes...", and he drew criticism for his analysis of the works of Lobo.  His theoretical advances include a work detailing how to modulate from any major or minor key to any other, and a device for audibly demonstrating the difference between a major and minor semitone.  In the early days of even temperament this must have been an especially pertinent issue.

Soler composed many vocal works; 10 masses, five requiems, 51 psalms and works in many other styles.  His auto sacramentales (1756-64) were banned by royal decree in 1765 for not supporting the church sufficiently.  Unlike Scarlatti his sonatas are frequently multi-movement works; this was possibly due to Boccherini's part in spreading the music of Haydn to Spain.