Antonio Soler

Antonio Francisco Javier José Soler Ramos, usually known as Padre ('Father', in the religious sense) Antonio Soler, known in Catalan as Antoni Soler i Ramos (baptized 3 December 1729 – died 20 December 1783) was a Spanish Catalan composer whose works span the late Baroque and early Classical music eras. He is best known for his many mostly one-movement keyboard sonatas strongly influenced by Domenico Scarlatti, which constitute a very important, quite underrated, contribution to the harpsichord, fortepiano and organ repertoire.

Early life

Soler was born in Olot (Catalonia, Spain) in the County of Besalú. In 1736, when he was six, he entered the Escolania of the Monastery of Montserrat where he studied music with the resident maestro Benito Esteve and organist Benito Valls. In 1744, he was simultaneously appointed organist and subdeacon at the Cathedral of La Seu d'Urgell. Later in life, he was chapel master in Lleida and at the Royal Court in El Escorial, in which latter venue he continued his musical studies.

Ministerial lifestyle

Soler took holy orders at the age of 23, and embarked on an extremely busy routine as a Hieronymite in El Escorial, Madrid with 20-hour workdays, in the course of which he produced more than 500 compositions. Among these were around 150 keyboard sonatas, many believed to have been written for his pupil, the Infante Don Gabriel, a son of King Carlos III. Other pieces include Christmas villancicos[1] and Catholic liturgical music, including Masses. He died in the monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.


Padre Soler's most celebrated works are his keyboard sonatas, which are comparable to those composed by Domenico Scarlatti (with whom he may have studied) but are more varied in form than those of Scarlatti, with some pieces in three or four movements; Scarlatti's pieces are in one (mostly) or two movements. Soler's sonatas were cataloged in the early twentieth century by Fr. Samuel Rubio and so all have 'R' numbers assigned.

Soler also composed concertos, quintets for organ and strings, motets,[2] masses and pieces for solo organ. He also wrote a treatise, Llave de la modulación ("The Key to Modulation", 1762).

Soler's Six Concertos for Two Organs are still very much in the repertoire and have often been recorded. A fandango once attributed to Soler, and probably more often performed than any other work of his, is now thought by some to be of doubtful authorship.

Selected discography

Works solely by Soler

  • Soler: Complete Sonatas played by harpsichordist Pieter-Jan Belder. Brilliant Classics
  • Soler: Sonatas,Fandango, Concerto pour deux Clavecins. played by Rafael Puyana and Genoveva Gálvez. Philips
  • Soler: 8 Sonatas, Fandango. Played by harpsichordist Nicolau de Figueiredo. Passacaille 943
  • Soler: Fandango, 9 Sonatas. Played by harpsichordist Scott Ross. Erato
  • Soler: Fandango & Sonatas. Played by harpsichordist David Schrader. Cedille 004
  • Soler: Harpsichord Sonatas, vol. II. Played by harpsichordist David Schrader. Cedille 009
  • Soler: Sonatas. Played by pianist Elena Riu. Ensayo 9818
  • Soler: Complete Harpsichord Works. Played by Bob van Asperen (12 disks). Astrée
  • Soler: Sonatas para piano. Played by pianist Alicia de Larrocha. EMI CLASSICS
  • Soler: Los 6 Quintetos para clave y cuerda. Played by harpsichordist Genoveva Gálvez and the string quartet Agrupación Nacional de Música de Cámara. EMI CLASSICS
  • Soler: Sonatas for Harpsichord. Played by Gilbert Rowland. A multi-volume project on Naxos Records.
  • Soler: Six Concertos for Two Keyboard Instruments. Played by Kenneth Gilbert and Trevor Pinnock. Archiv Produktion 453171-2
  • Soler: Six Concertos for Two Organs. Played by Mathot and Koopman. Warner WEA/Atlantic/Erato ZK45741
  • Soler: Six Concertos for Two Organs. Played by E. Power Biggs (Flentrop organ on the left) and Daniel Pinkham (Hess organ on the right). Recorded at the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, 1961. LP: Columbia Masterworks Stereo MS 6208 (Library of Congress catalog card number R60-1383)
  • Soler: 19 Sonatas. Played by Anna Malikova. Classical Records CR-049
  • Soler: Keyboard Sonatas and the "Fandango". Played by Maggie Cole. Virgin Classics
  • Soler: 13 Sonatas. Played by pianist Marie-Luise Hinrichs. Warner Classics.
  • Padre Soler: Sonates pour Clavier. Played by pianist Luis Fernando Pérez. Mirare.

Works by Soler & other composers


  1. edited as Siete villancicos de Navidad Instituto de Musica Religiosa de la Excma. Diputacion Provincial, Cuenca [Spain] 1979
  2. edited by Ediciones Escurialenses, Editorial Patrimonio Nacional, 1983.
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