Sonata in E minor, K. 198 - Domenico Scarlatti

The Sonata in E minor, K. 198, by Domenico Scarlatti, is a masterful work that encapsulates the essence of the Baroque era's keyboard music. Composed during a period when Scarlatti was heavily investing in the exploration of the technical capabilities of the harpsichord, this piece stands out for its expressive depth and intricate melodies. The sonata showcases Scarlatti’s innovative approach to composition, particularly in its use of dissonance, thematic development, and the unique employment of the E minor key, distinguishing it from the more commonly composed keys of the era.

Historical Background of K. 198

The Sonata in E minor, K. 198, is one of the 555 keyboard sonatas composed by Domenico Scarlatti, an influential figure of the Baroque period. Scarlatti's sonatas were initially intended for the harpsichord, with a significant number being later adapted for piano. K. 198 is particularly noted for its exploration of emotional depth, a less common characteristic within many of Scarlatti’s other compositions.

Though the exact date of the sonata's composition remains uncertain, it is believed to have been written in the mid-18th century, during Scarlatti's tenure at the Spanish court. Like many of his sonatas, K. 198 was not published during Scarlatti's lifetime but posthumously discovered and included in collections that sought to preserve his legacy.

This sonata's publication history is a testament to its enduring appeal. Its inclusion in numerous edited volumes and music collections reflects the musicological interest in Scarlatti's work and its importance in the Baroque keyboard repertoire.

Music Theory Analysis of Sonata in E minor, K. 198

The Sonata in E minor, K. 198, exhibits Scarlatti's adeptness in the manipulation of musical form and harmony. The piece is structured in a binary form, a common trait of Scarlatti's sonatas, which allows for the exploration of contrasting themes within a cohesive structure.

Harmonically, the sonata delves into the minor modality, distinguishing itself with its use of the E minor key, which adds to the piece's somber and introspective character. Scarlatti employs various modulations, exploring relative and parallel major and minor keys, which enrich the sonata's harmonic texture.

Scarlatti's use of ornamentation, including trills and mordents, alongside rapid arpeggios and scale passages, creates a technically demanding piece that challenges the performer while providing an expressive depth characteristic of Scarlatti's mature works.

Enduring Popularity of the Sonata in E minor, K. 198

The Sonata in E minor, K. 198, has maintained its popularity within the solo piano repertoire due to several factors. Its expressive depth, coupled with the technical demands it places on the performer, has made it a favorite among pianists seeking to showcase their technical proficiency and interpretive skills.

Moreover, the piece's unique harmonic language and compositional structure serve as a vivid example of Scarlatti's innovative contributions to solo keyboard music. Its inclusion in educational settings and performances worldwide attests to its significant position within the classical music canon.


In conclusion, Domenico Scarlatti's Sonata in E minor, K. 198, embodies the quintessence of Baroque keyboard music through its innovative use of form, harmony, and expressive depth. Its historical significance, coupled with its enduring appeal among performers and audiences alike, secures its place as a pivotal work in the solo piano repertoire. The sonata not only showcases Scarlatti’s technical and compositional prowess but also offers a glimpse into the emotive potential and expressive capacity of Baroque music.

Publication date: 23. 03. 2024