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Alessandro Scarlatti (the father of Domenico) was born in Sicily in 1658 or 1659 and died at Naples in 1725, aged sixty-six.

Alessandro was the great opera composer and founder of Neapolitan School opera. He was brought up in Rome. When he was twenty-one, one of his operas attracted the attention of Queen Christina of Sweden, who made him, her musical director. Four or five years later the Spanish viceroy at Naples appointed him to same position in his court.

After about twenty years there, disappointed at the viceroy's musical taste and his treatment of him, he settled in Rome again, occupying church posts and composing operas and some church music; but the Pope did not approve of opera, and life became a little difficult.

After a few years he was tempted back to Naples by the offer of increased salary and better treatment, and his brilliant period began, his best works were writtenat this time, and his fame attained great heights. It appears, however, that he later slipped back to Rome again, Naples having ceased to applaud him so generously as before. And so between those two cities he had for a lifetime alternated, never long satisfied with either.

His great work lay in the realm of opera and that of the chamber cantata, of which latter form he wrote five hundred examples. His lifetime ended (1725) shortly before that of Haydn was to begin (1732), and this has significance, for his development of harmony and the devices of form prepared the way for the great achievements of the Haydn-Mozart period.