Domenico Alberti

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Domenico Alberti (c. 1710 – 14 October 1740) was an Italian singer, harpsichordist, and composer whose works bridge the Baroque and Classical periods.

Alberti was born in Venice and studied music with Antonio Lotti. He wrote operas, songs, and sonatas for keyboard instruments, for which he is best known today. These sonatas frequently employ a particular kind of arpeggiated accompaniment in the left hand that is now known as the Alberti bass. It consists of regular broken chords, with the lowest note sounding first, then the highest, then the middle and then the highest again. This pattern is repeated. Today, Alberti is regarded as a minor composer, and his works are played or recorded only irregularly. The Alberti bass was used by many later composers, and it became an important element in much keyboard music of the Classical music era.

An example of Alberti bass (Mozart's Piano Sonata, K 545):[1]

Mozart k545 opening.png

In his own lifetime, Alberti was known as a singer. He often used to accompany himself on the harpsichord. Little is known of his life, but he was Venetian ambassador to Spain in 1736, where the famous castrato singer Farinelli heard him sing. Farinelli was said to have been impressed, although Alberti was an amateur.

Alberti's best known pieces are his keyboard sonatas, although even they are very rarely performed. It is thought he wrote around 36 sonatas, of which 14 have survived. They all have two movements, each in binary form.

It is probable that Mozart's first violin sonatas, written at the age of seven, were modeled on Alberti's work, although Mozart's examples are generally considered superior.

Alberti died in 1740 in Rome.


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