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24th February, 2023

Guildhall School of Music & Drama awarded prestigious Leverhulme Research Project Grant

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Guildhall School of Music & Drama is delighted to announce that the Leverhulme Trust has awarded Research Professor Sir Barry Ife a grant of over £400,000 to undertake a large-scale study of the composer Domenico Scarlatti.

Scarlatti was one of the leading figures of eighteenth-century music, but one of the least well understood. For nearly 40 years he taught one royal pupil in the courts of Portugal and Spain but, somehow, his work escaped the confines of the music room and went viral across Europe. Texting Scarlatti: Composition, Reception, Performance will involve the first comprehensive, in depth-study of all 3,200 surviving 18th-century copies of Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas, tracking their genesis, reception and performance across Spain and Europe.

Jointly with Dr Jérémie Lumbroso from the Department of Computer Science at Princeton University, Professor Ife will lead an international team of five specialists, working with up to 50 volunteer ‘citizen scientists’ from around the world. Together, they will collate and evaluate documentary evidence from over 30 libraries and archives using a specially-designed data management tool that can be used for a wide range of textual analysis projects in both words and music.

Professor Ife says:

“We are extremely grateful to the Leverhulme Trust for its generous support of this important work, and to Research England for funding the pilot study that made it possible. Scarlatti’s popularity as a composer has meant that the sheer weight of evidence has defeated all attempts by lone scholars to make sense of it. Working as a team, with the right blend of expertise and experience, we have a generational opportunity to put Scarlatti studies on a par with those of other major composers from the eighteenth century.”

Professor Andy Lavender, Vice Principal & Director of Production Arts and executive lead on research at Guildhall School, says:

“We’re delighted that the Leverhulme Trust has made this prestigious award in support of Professor Ife’s discipline-defining study of Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas. The project is truly international in scope and innovative in its research method, combining extensive archival research, expert textual analysis, digital data management, and the input of ‘citizen scientists’. Texting Scarlatti stands to make a major contribution to studies in eighteenth-century music; it also helps inaugurate an exciting new phase in research at Guildhall School, addressing historical and contemporary performance across countries and artforms.”

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