Sonata in D minor, K. 1 - Domenico Scarlatti

A Deep Dive into Domenico Scarlatti's Masterful Sonata in D minor, K. 1

The Sonata in D minor, K. 1 by Domenico Scarlatti stands as a formidable piece in the realm of solo piano literature. Composed during the Baroque era, it exemplifies Scarlatti's inventive approach to the keyboard sonata. With its intricate passages and emotive depth, K. 1 showcases the composer's mastery in creating a work that resonates with both technical precision and expressive beauty. This sonata not only highlights Scarlatti’s unique style but also marks the beginning of his prolific sonata composition journey.

The Historical Context of Sonata in D minor, K. 1

Origins and Publication

Domenico Scarlatti, an Italian composer, thrived in the late Baroque period. The Sonata in D minor, K. 1 is believed to have been composed in the early 18th century, during a time when Scarlatti was transitioning from his Italian roots to a more Spanish-influenced compositional style, thanks to his move to Spain. This piece, along with hundreds of other sonatas, was published as part of his Essercizi per Gravicembalo collection, which played a crucial role in solidifying his reputation across Europe.

Manuscript and First Editions

The manuscript for K. 1, along with Scarlatti’s other sonatas, marks a significant contribution to keyboard literature. The piece was first introduced to the public through a Venetian publication in 1738. This collection not only demonstrated Scarlatti's virtuosic keyboard skills but also introduced a novel musical language that was ahead of its time.

In-Depth Analysis of the Sonata in D minor, K. 1

Form and Structure

The sonata, set in binary form, is characterized by its stark contrasts between sections. The first section presents thematic material that is both lyrical and rhythmically driven, setting the emotional tone of the piece. The second section elaborates and develops these themes further, incorporating rigorous passages that demand technical prowess and expressive interpretation.

Harmonic Innovations

Scarlatti's Sonata in D minor is renowned for its innovative use of harmony. The work navigates through various keys, employing daring modulations that were uncommon for its time. This harmonic adventure adds to the dramatic effect of the piece, making it a compelling study for understanding the harmonic possibilities of the Baroque era.

Unveiling the Popularity of Sonata in D minor, K. 1

A Benchmark for Keyboard Technique

One of the reasons behind the sonata’s enduring popularity is its role as a technical benchmark for pianists. The piece's demanding passages require a command over the instrument, making it a staple in the repertoire of many keyboard virtuosos. Its technical challenges are paired with expressive opportunities, offering a comprehensive showcase of a performer’s capabilities.

Emotive Depth and Expressive Range

Beyond its technical aspects, Sonata in D minor, K. 1 resonates with listeners and performers alike due to its emotive depth. Scarlatti masterfully weaves a tapestry of emotional expressions, from the introspective and somber tones of the minor key to the lively and animated passages that follow. This range of expression is a hallmark of Scarlatti's sonatas, contributing significantly to their popularity.


In conclusion, Domenico Scarlatti's Sonata in D minor, K. 1 remains a towering achievement in the solo piano repertoire. Its historical significance, combined with its technical demands and emotional depth, enables the piece to continue captivating audiences and performers alike. Scarlatti's innovative approach to composition, evident in this sonata, marks a pivotal moment in the evolution of keyboard music, making it a subject of study and admiration for generations to come.

Publication date: 23. 03. 2024