Antonio Francisco Xavier Joseph Soler was born in 1729 in the Spanish province of Tarragona, the son of an army musician. His earliest musical instruction came from his father, who took him to the Abbey of Montserrat, where he was encouraged to join the choir at the age of six. Here, he became highly proficient on the organ, and studied composition. It may have been this early exposure to religious life that made the young Soler to decide to spend the rest of his life in the church. He accepted various musical posts in the church, including organist at El Escorial. He became a novice there in 1752, deacon, priest and chapel master – the latter position after 1757. He was requested by King Carlos III to teach his two sons Gabriel and Antonio. Antonio was the more musical of the princes, and for him Soler composed his 6 concertos for two organs.
Soler came into contact with Domenico Scarlatti who was employed by the Royal Family, and whose music was exclusive to the court and banned from performance outside of the palace. Soler’s 150 keyboard works (written for Prince Gabriel) are dazzling affairs, and test the harpsichords and fortepianos of the time to their limits. Although the influence of Scarlatti can be detected, these are truly Spanish works, and exude Iberian colour and rhythms.
Eighteen sonatas by one of the most enigmatic but important keyboard composers of the 18th Century.