Classical Fandango – Soler and Scarlatti

Padre Antonio Soler (1729-1783) was a Catalan composer, theoretician, organist, harpsichordist, priest, and maestro de capilla, first at Lérida Cathedral, and in 1752 at the Spanish royal monastery, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, near Madrid, where he studied with the Neapolitan composer Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), who was also in the royal service as its music master, since 1733. The castrato Farinelli (1705-1782) was also a member of the royal court, as its chamber musician since 1737.


El Escorial

The fandango, which may have originated in 17th century Andalusia, is a Spanish song or dance in triple time, in birpartite structure in which the introduction is followed by variations. By the 18th century it had become a favourite of the aristocracy and had made its way into classical stage and instrumental works.

Soler’s Fandango (R. 146, and which may be of doubtful authorship) is a complex set of variations on an ostinato bass of a length of only two bars comprised of twelve eighth notes in ¾ time, a bass shorter than the conventional basso ostinato of four or eight bars found in the chaconne or passacaglia.

Scarlatti’s Fandango portugués (K. 492) dates from 1756. Similarities to Soler’s are immediately and pleasingly evident.


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