In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Antonio Soler

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Catalogues
  • Reference Works
  • Collections of Essays
  • Life and Works
  • Studies of the Theoretical Works
  • Performance Practice
  • Reception
  • Sources

Music Antonio Soler
Paulino Capdepon Verdu
  • LAST REVIEWED: 11 January 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 11 January 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0191


Born in Olot (Girona, Spain), Padre (Father) Antonio Soler (Ramos) (b. 1729–d. 1783) is one of the leading figures in the history of Spanish music. An outstanding performer and composer, he composed in most of the musical genres of his time and made an important contribution to musical theory. Educated at the Montserrat monastery, in 1752 he moved to El Escorial, where he pursued his musical career as an organist and as chapel master. Given that El Escorial was a royal monastery, Soler soon came into contact with the musical life of the court and met Domenico Scarlatti, who became his maestro and guided him along the path toward his specialization, keyboard music. His close links with the court prompted a fruitful relationship with the Infante Don Gabriel, the son of King Charles III of Spain, who encouraged Soler to compose a large number of his pieces. Soler produced a very extensive body of work (over 400 pieces), including 140 keyboard sonatas, concertos for two organs, incidental music for the theater, and church music (masses, motets, villancicos, etc.). His work can be classified as part of the transition from late Baroque (still very evident in his polychoral vocal work) to the galant and full Classical style, which can be seen his last keyboard sonatas. Soler’s contacts with Giovanni Battista Martini were also very important, as was his principle contribution to music theory, the 1762 publication of his treatise Llave de la modulación y otras antigüedades de la música (Key to modulation and other musical antiquities).

General Overviews

Subirá 1953 emphasizes Soler’s historical significance and the prestige he attained during his lifetime. Carroll 1960 and Subirá 1953 indicate the specific and original nature of Soler’s compositions for keyboard, in contrast to the more traditional view put forward by Chase 1941, which claims that the Spanish composer is indebted to Scarlatti. However, the most reliable starting point for research into the life and music of Soler in modern times is undoubtedly Carroll 1960, the first work to attempt an extensive and rigorous study. Valuable, very thorough overviews are also provided by Rubio 1963 and Martín Moreno 1985. Capdepón 2000 offers an analytical approach to the characteristic features of Soler’s musical and theoretical work. Although focusing specifically on Soler’s vocal works, some of the reflections in Laird 2009 give us a better understanding of the Spanish contribution to European music in the 18th century. Morales-Cañadas 2014 is the most recent contextualization of Soler’s work as a composer and musical theorist in the enlightened culture of the 18th century in Spain.

  • Capdepón, Paulino. El padre Antonio Soler: Biografía y obra musical. Olot, Spain: Museu Comarcal de la Garrotxa, 2000.

    Overview of the state of the knowledge of Antonio Soler’s historiography in which the author also studies the different types of music explored by Soler: keyboard music, chamber music, liturgical vocal music in Latin, liturgical vocal music in Spanish, and stage music.

  • Carroll, Frank Morris. “An Introduction to Antonio Soler.” PhD diss., University of Rochester, 1960.

    A pioneering study, the first that gathered together all the information then available on Soler. Carroll’s work reflected an increased international interest in the work of the Spanish composer.

  • Chase, Gilbert. The Music of Spain. New York: W. W. Norton, 1941.

    In Chapter 7, “In the Orbit of Scarlatti,” Chase proclaims Soler as the brightest, most solid Spanish composer of his time. Nevertheless, he also feels that Soler showed his debt to Scarlatti on every page of his sonatas, beginning what became the established view of his music, which is now seriously questioned. Translated as La música de España (Buenos Aires: Librería Hachette, 1944).

  • Laird, Paul Robert. “Catholic Church Music in Italy, and the Spanish and Portuguese Empires.” In The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Music. Edited by Simon P. Keefe, 27–58. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1017/CHOL9780521663199.003

    Notes the importance of Soler’s religious vocal music within the context of 18th-century Spanish and European music.

  • Martín Moreno, Antonio. Historia de la música española 4: Siglo XVIII. Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1985.

    Excellent overview of the life and work of Soler, whom the author studies in two chapters (“Chamber Music” and “Musical Theory”). In addition to an extensive biography, the work focuses particularly on the concertos for two organs, the quintets, and the controversy generated by Llave de la modulación.

  • Morales-Cañadas, Esther. Antonio Soler, un visionario ilustrado: Intento musical y biográfico razonado. Munich: AVM-Edition, 2014.

    Makes use of numerous sources, some of them unpublished, within its 166 pages. The author contextualizes the musical atmosphere at El Escorial and analyzes the composer’s enlightened ideas and variety of interests.

  • Rubio, Samuel. “El P. Fray Antonio Soler: Vida y obra.” In El Escorial. 1563–1963: IV centenario de la Fundación del Monasterio de San Lorenzo el Real. Edited by Luis Ortiz Muñoz, 469–513. Madrid: Patrimonio Nacional, 1963.

    Analysis of Soler’s life and career by one of the most knowledgeable experts on his work. It raises the possibility that a part of Soler’s musical legacy may have been lost during the invasion of Spain by the Napoleonic armies.

  • Subirá, José. Historia de la música española e hispanoamericana. Madrid: Salvat, 1953.

    References to Soler’s contributions to different fields appear in various chapters but without going into a detailed analysis, as few editions of his music existed at the time. Subirá mentions the “originality and constant innovation” of his keyboard music.

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