Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) was born in Naples in the same year as Bach and Handel. He was the son of Alessandro Scarlatti, who hoped his son would follow in his operatic footsteps, but realised that the young man’s talents lay elsewhere.
Domenico became a virtuoso harpsichordist, and as such, a traveller. Although he spent a good part of his career in Spain, he is known to have visited many European cities. Today he is known for his role in the development of the sonata. He wrote over 500 for the harpsichord, although these days they are as likely to be heard played on the piano and many of them are extremely popular. We can be grateful for the American harpsichordist, Ralph Kirkpatrick who, in a study of Scarlatti, published in 1954, categorised these gems.
There is a story that Domenico and the great George Frederick Handel met in friendly competition. It was agreed that Handel was the greater organist, but Scarlatti won on the harpsichord.