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S47 Ep3

Now Hear This “Scarlatti: Man Out of Time”

Premiere: 10/4/2019 | 00:00:30 | Closed Captioning Icon

Join Scott Yoo in Spain and Morocco to discover the greatest composer you’ve never heard of: Domenico Scarlatti. He was the finest keyboard player in Europe, hired by the Queen of Spain as her personal instructor. Into Vivaldi’s melodies and Bach’s fugues, Scarlatti incorporated the sounds of Spain – Moorish, Jewish, Gypsy, folk, dance and guitar – to create a new musical language.



About the Episode

Join Scott Yoo in Spain and Morocco to discover the work of Domenico Scarlatti.


♪♪ -Up next, I'm Scott Yoo.

Come with me to Spain to discover Domenico Scarlatti, the greatest composer you've never heard of.

♪♪ Of course that's Scarlatti. -Of course.

♪♪ He wrote hundreds of keyboard books and with them created a new musical language that inspired generations of composers after him.

-This is the guitar that Gaspar Sanz would have used.

-To understand his revolutionary style, I'll explore his many surprising influences.

This is not an art exhibit. This is what they found.

[ All cheer ] ♪♪ I'll follow his footsteps to discover the sounds and rhythms that inspired him.

This is a really cool place.

It's a little old Fabergé egg.

And I'll realize that he was more important to the history of music than I could have ever imagined.

-He's playing with all this angriness to beat a world where everything is possible.

-Next on 'Great Performances,' an episode from the new music series 'Now Hear This.'

♪♪ -In the 1700s, the Queen of Spain, a fine harpsichordist, hired the best player in Europe to be her private teacher -- Domenico Scarlatti.

♪♪ The 555 keyboard sonatas he wrote for her private use are today played in concerts by our greatest pianists.

As a violinist, I had no idea how they came to be or the massive impact they've had.

To find out, I went to meet the Spanish pianist Antonio Simón.

-It's a very nice place in Madrid where they hold like 150 concerts every year, all of them packed. -Wow. Awesome.

[ Piano music playing ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Hm. Beautiful. That was great.

-Thank you. -It was beautiful.

That's Brahms. -Yes, that's Brahms.

And, you know, Scott, I was thinking.

He was a great fan of Scarlatti. Did you know that?

-I did not know that.

Yes, he owned a big collection of Scarlatti manuscripts.

He studied it so closely that -- Listen to this. -Okay.

♪♪ Okay. -You know this is the beginning of a Brahms song. -Okay.

-So, this is based on this sonata.

♪♪ -Identical. -It's, in fact, a direct quotation of Scarlatti in Brahms' music.

-In other words, Brahms stole it.

-Yes, that's right. [ Laughs ] But, you know, Brahms was not the only romantic composer who loved and admired Scarlatti.

You probably know this very well-known nocturne of Chopin.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Now hear this.

♪♪ ♪♪ -And, of course, that's Scarlatti.

-Of course.

And there's absolutely something Chopin-esque in Scarlatti.

-Yeah, I hear the same -- I hear the same DNA in the Chopin as I do in the Scarlatti, for sure.

-Right. That's for sure.

For a while, Scarlatti was a sort of composer's composer.

-Hm. -He was widely admired by all those great names along history.

You have Czerny, Clementi, Liszt, Schumann.

And later on in the 20th century, Albeniz, Granados, Bartok, Shostakovich.

-Everybody. -All those big names.

-I had no idea. How did he become the one?

The guy that would inspire all of those great keyboard performers and composers?

-Well, you know, that's a good question, and I think the answer is, he came to Spain.

And I think it all started here.

♪♪ -To help me understand, Antonio took me to meet the great flamenco dancer Illeana Gomez.

-You know, for the last 50 years, the greatest flamenco dancers in Madrid have trained here.

You are really looking at flamenco history.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Wow, man. That was great. -Thank you.

Bravo. Bravo, Illy. You're amazing.

So, this means that Scarlatti was inspired by flamenco music.


Well, they really sound similar, don't they?

-Absolutely. But you know what?

Actually, flamenco wasn't formed by that time.

I mean, Scarlatti didn't know flamenco because flamenco didn't exist. -Hm.

-Basically, the flamenco we heard today was formed at the end of the 19th century, so it's really -- -Way after. -Way after Scarlatti.

But I think the roots they absorbed were the same, and all the regional folklore of Spain was a big influence on Scarlatti's music.

So the roots that made flamenco sound like it sounds today must have been the same roots that Scarlatti was exposed to.

-So, flamenco and Scarlatti, they come from the same sources.

Same roots. -Same mother.

♪♪ To understand what inspired flamenco -- and Scarlatti -- I left Spain and went to Morocco with flamenco guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Amir Haddad.

♪♪ ♪♪ -Nice. -Nice.

-So, we just entered the medina.

-This is it. -Yes.

The medina. It actually means 'city' in Arabic.

So, the medina is where the daily life happens and the people live.

They have their stores.

And it's all narrow streets, as you can see.

It's like a fortress, and it has four to five portals.

And all the Arab cities have this type of thing, the medina.

-Nice. Let's check it out. -Yeah.

♪♪ Wow. This is so beautiful, Scott.

-From this high point in the medina, we could look over the Straits of Gibraltar.

♪♪ -It's a huge city.

-So that's Spain. -Spain is over there.

♪♪ -And here, Amir could show me how the music of the Islamic world made its way into Spain.

Amir, what is that?

This instrument is called Arabic oud.


-And 'oud' means, actually, piece of wood.

And it's one of the most important instruments within the Arabic music.

Sometimes it has been called the king of instruments.

♪♪ ♪♪ So, the journey of the music came actually from Iraq, from Mesopotamia.

Especially in Baghdad, there at the court of the Caliph, there was a character called -- and a great musician called Ziryab.

-Ziryab? -Ziryab.

And he was a disciple of the great court musician Ishaq al-Mawsili, and so he learned all these music styles.

And the music in Mesopotamia or the Middle East would maybe sound something like this.

It's very meditative and very freely interpretative.

♪♪ -So that's what they're hearing in Baghdad.

Yeah, that is like Iraqi kind of... ♪♪ ...kind of sound that they use there.

♪♪ And then Ziryab traveled through the Middle East over to Northern Africa.

And in Africa, it's a very powerful continent, and the rhythm is very important.

So the music is very dominated by the rhythm.

And the sound would be more rhythmical and something more like this.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -So, you have these Iraqi notes and then this African rhythm, and that makes that.

-Somehow all these things come together.

And, of course, the Arabs, eventually, they brought also the music over to Andalusia, to Córdoba.

And Ziryab was a very important character in that, because actually he established the first conservatory in Córdoba, and he brought a lot of musical knowledge, theory, also culinary.

All this knowledge they had in the Middle East, he brought it, and he spread it in Andalusia.

♪♪ ♪♪ -The Moors controlled Andalusia, the southern half of Spain, for 500 years.

Amir took me to see Omar Metioui and the Orquesta Andalusi of Tangier to play the kind of music that Zyriab took to Spain, which would influence its folk music and eventually Scarlatti.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Amir and I crossed the straits back to Spain to its most Southern town, Tarifa.

♪♪ ♪♪ [ All cheer ] The similarities to Tangier's medina were obvious.

That's because Tarifa, like so many villages in Southern Spain, was built by Arab and North African settlers more than 1,000 years ago.

And it's easy to see why so many generations came here.

The African coast is just 10 miles away.

[ Sea birds crying ] At a hotel in an old church sacristy, which was probably a Moorish building before that, Amir showed me how the Arab oud shaped the Spanish guitar.

-Scott, do you remember the different styles we were talking about?

The Baghdad, Middle Eastern style.

-Sure. -Northern Africa.

-More meditative. -Right.

And then this rhythmical thing in Northern Africa.

-Right. Lots of rhythmic energy in that.

♪♪ -And, then, like a little bit what we heard the other day in Tangier, this more Andalusi style.

♪♪ Then, of course, once you cross the sea, you come to Andalusia and you have the flamenco sound, and you have the Spanish guitar sound.

And, then, I think we should switch over.

-And this is the Spanish guitar. -This is the Spanish guitar.

In this case, it's a flamenco guitar.

But, I mean, the Spanish guitar -- Classical guitar or flamenco guitar.

It's almost the same shape.

And we have the same tonality now, so we can mimic it.

♪♪ Also, in the old days, they used to play with the thumb.

That would be the imitation of a pick.

♪♪ Even in flamenco guitar, you have this open and free interpretations with no rhythm.

♪♪ ♪♪ -So, you're traveling back in time to the Middle Eastern music again, a little bit.

-The flamenco music, it's very powerful.

In Spanish music, they have -- Even the great classical composers in Spanish music, they have this strong link towards that sound, the ancient sound, you know?

And I think you can see that in the lifestyle of the whole Mediterranean cultures and people.

Of course, there's different countries with different habits, but there is the same seed all over.

I mean, everybody speaks different languages, but the music is so similar, even if the rhythms change.

But the tonalities and the way they make the ornaments... ♪♪ So I think it's a very nice example of unity and brotherhood among the Mediterranean people.


♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -With a little understanding of the music of Moorish Spain, I went to Seville, the Spanish capital in the time of Columbus, and where Scarlatti came to serve the queen.

Here I met musicologist Olivier Foures.

-But very important is this spot there.

Do you see the tower there? -The brown one?

-Yeah, exactly. -Okay.

-It's from there that Columbus went to America.

-From that point? -Yeah, that point.

And actually, they didn't know when they were leaving that they were starting a very important connection between America and Europe and that was about to change Spain and all of Europe.

And, of course, everything will mix and come to something completely impure that will generate a new basis.

-Impure. I like that. Yeah. That's good.

-So, yes, Scott, we are now in a very special place.

This is Seville's royal shipyard.

And, apparently, actually, some people think some boats of Columbus were built here.

-Really? -Yes.

We know the But, actually, the other ones might have been done here.

After this time, at the end of the 15th century, this place was used to stock plants, metals, gold, of course.

But, actually, they came back with a very important thing -- culture.

New dances, new way of dancing.

You know, the body expressions, the tunes, the sound, mixed to already all this very rich culture of Seville -- Moorish, Christian, Jewish.

It made a completely new language.

And it became, actually -- This language was the base of all the dance and music developing in Europe.

-Hm. I thought that those dances were from France?

-Yes, of course, it's true. French dance was very, very important in the development of dance, but it's much later.

-So they did not invent that? -Absolutely not.

The chaconne or sarabande was coming from Spain, from all these influences, from the new America discoveries.

This is where everything grew up and after developed.

Louis XIV later -- we speak about 200 years later -- developed a school, a style.

So, the way for him, for example, to develop this dance was to open the body, to open your feet.

You're opposite, so you open.

You don't risk anything because you're a god.

-[ Laughs ] -And you don't need to protect.

And this is all different between the French sophisticated dance where everything is trying to avoid the gravity.

-Uh-huh. -And, of course, what you find here -- to the Earth, taking the energy to the body and protecting, of course -- You never open yourself.

-So, French dance is anti-gravity, more godlike.

Spanish dance is more human, into the Earth.

-More human. More primal. Exactly.

There is a primitivity, something ethnic.

And, of course, things -- sophisticated things always come from popular and ethnic expression.

And even what people consider the most famous Spanish dance, the flamenco, the so-called flamenco.

It's just a soup of all these past ingredients.

♪♪ -This was the music of Spain when Scarlatti arrived, a soup of diverse ingredients.

That night, I went to dinner on a rooftop, as so many Sevillanos do, at the home of Randy Hulett, an expert in Spain's signature dish.

This smells amazing.

-Yeah, so -- -This is a real paella.

-Well, so, as I understand it, a real, real true paella, a Valencian paella, includes always snails, rabbit, chicken.

So, this is a little bit of kind of my take on it.

All right. So, this is the moment of truth here.

We finished this 10 minutes ago, and now we're going to find out if we got the wonderful socarrat crust.

-Socarrat? What does that mean?

-It's kind of like this burned crust along the bottom.

-Oh, yeah. -It's good.

-It looks great.

Randy, this looks like many elements of Spanish food amalgamated into one kettle.

-Yeah. I think part of the magic of Andalusia is that it's a mix of kind of the Northern European, the Catholics kind of coming down, and also the Arabs coming up.

And so, in this dish, you're going to see rice and saffron out of the Arab world, and then the Spanish love their pork.

And so we've got, uh, basically the two cultures combining in this one dish.

-To better understand Scarlatti's Moorish and New World influences, I decided to transcribe one of his keyboard works to my instrument, the violin.

♪♪ ♪♪ Transcribing is basically translating.

You have to get inside the composer's head and learn to speak their language to do it right.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Hm. Looks like I don't speak his language well enough yet.

To dig a little deeper, I went to see Antonio again in the Barrio Santa Cruz.

[ Indistinct conversation ] So this is the Jewish quarter?

-It was the Jewish quarter for a while.

-Not anymore? -No, not anymore.

It was a Jewish quarter for about 500 years.

-The walls remind me of Tarifa, the white paint and narrow streets.

-Yeah, well, this is the traditional Andalusian architecture. -Mm-hmm.

-With very narrow streets and the houses painted in white, and that's all to prevent the heat during the summer.

-Air-conditioning. -Yes, that's right.

-So, what connection does this have with Scarlatti?

-Well, you know what? Scarlatti actually lived here for some years. -Really?

-Yes. He lived here for around three, four years, while the court was living in Seville.

-He was serving the queen.

-Yes, the queen was living in the palace, in the Alcázar, and the servants were living around.

-Right. -And the reason I wanted to take you to this neighborhood is because, first of all, Scarlatti lived here and also because I wanted you to listen to some Sephardic music.

-Sephardic music meaning... -The music that the Jews used to play.


-And their traditions, their music, their food, most of it remained in some way or the other in the city.

So, Scarlatti living in this neighborhood, he surely listened to some of this.

-When Scarlatti lived here, this building had been converted into the Santa María La Blanca Church.

-So, here we are.

-But long before that, it was a synagogue.

-[ Singing in native language ] ♪♪ Emilio Villalba's early music trio played us a Sephardic song, as if conjuring ghosts from the past.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Applause ] -Scarlatti surely walked this same street, and just a few doors down is a hotel built in some Scarlatti-era houses, with a 19th-century piano we could play.

-So, now I would like to play for you a sonata of Scarlatti.


-In which, if you use your imagination, maybe you will recognize some echoes... -Okay. Great. -...of the music we just heard.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Hearing Scarlatti on a similar instrument to what Chopin played made me understand again how he must have inspired the romantic composers.

♪♪ ♪♪ But equally powerful to me was seeing this salon.

Scarlatti lived in a house just like this -- a mix of Moorish and European and Roman.

All of Seville, in his time and today, is a mixture of cultures built, literally, on a foundation of ancient Rome.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -So, you see this big structure? They did that a few years ago.

It's a whole just wood structure.

I tell you what is very interesting -- That when they did that, they discovered incredible things under.

♪♪ So, here we have the Roman ruins.

-You were talking about that wooden sculpture outside.

So, when they were building it, what happened?

They suddenly unearthed this?

-Yes, they suddenly unearthed this.

-So this is not a -- This is not an art exhibit.

This is what they found!

-We are in the city. -It was here.

-It's there. And you see, it's huge.

And, of course, if you dig more, you find much more, because all of Seville is on top of this.

So, this is the Roman part.

They were here 500 years. After came the Muslims.

-500 years. -500 years.

And after, the Christian, 500 years, too, you know?

So, if you look at the time, wow. It's... The civilization -- It's a place of everybody.

I like this place very much because you really feel the durability of culture.

To see these things today, to see that these things grew, developed, mixed, changed.

And it's always so funny, like, when actually we think things are unique, and when you see, no, they just come from other things.

We just always cook with the same ingredients.

And the mix, the impurity, the differences brings, of course, to discover what we are.

And actually, for us, like, when we speak about Scarlatti and all this influence, when he came, of course, he was surprised by all these things and sensitive to that.

He was just playing with these ingredients to himself find a feeling which gave, of course, a new language.

And it's so beautiful to see the foundation here of this cultural evolution.

♪♪ -So this is how Scarlatti, the Italian, could so easily absorb Spanish culture, in his new home among the Sevillanos.

They all shared deep Roman roots.

They were all Latin.

♪♪ And when Scarlatti applied his Spanish influences and Latin roots to traditional music, the results could be shocking.

Javier Nuñez showed me an example.

♪♪ Of course, that was Bach. -Yeah.

Bach was the true master of the fugue.

-And what about Scarlatti? Did he write any fugues?

-Yes, indeed.

But because he was so special and his artistic mind and spirit was like a different universe, he thought, 'Maybe I can do something very different.'

And, for example, we have this fugue, so-called the Cat's Fugue.

You could think there is a cat running... -Walking on the piano? -...walking on the keyboard.

Because it's -- I will show you.

♪♪ ♪♪ I feel now like a cat.

It's like you are making mistakes one note after the other.

But then you get very nice music, for example, from the beginning.

Of course, you get different entrances of the theme because it's a fugue.

It's not a fugue like in Bach.

Bach is more square, more straight.

This is a more maybe Latin, you know, like Italian, Spanish way of treating the fugue, the extractor, you know?

So, you get the cat.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ See. Here it's nice. And then... ♪♪ ♪♪ And, again... ♪♪ ...bigger cat.

♪♪ So he combines the weird stuff with the very lyrical cantabile.

-It's interesting to me 'cause as more voices come in, the tune, the melody sounds less weird in context.

It's just when it's isolated, it's so shocking.

-Yeah. Exactly.

So, he's able to make out something nice from this weird stuff.

You know, like... ♪♪ This is so nice.

It's like a love song, right?

♪♪ -Here. -And here. And again.

So, I think he's a master because of this power of both materials are balanced.

I would say he's apart from everything in his time.

-Scarlatti's Spanish and Latin influences gave him the freedom to take his music in a new direction.

With that sense of freedom, I was ready to tackle my transcription again.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Scarlatti absorbed his Spanish influences in Seville.

But only when he moved to Madrid did he begin to compose so prolifically with them.

To understand how he did it, I met guitarist Manuel Barrueco.

-So, we're coming up to the Ramirez guitar shop.

It's over 100 years old.

One of the most famous guitar makers in the world.

-Oh, cool.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Very nice. -Thank you.

So, that is 'Canarios' by Gaspar Sanz.

He's a baroque composer.

This must be the music that Domenico Scarlatti heard when he landed in Spain.

It's a dance also based, or originated, in the Canary Islands.

It's one of those things that went back and forth from the New World to the Old World.

But it was actually the guitar and the street sounds that most inspired him to write, to compose.

And you can hear it in his music, obviously.

There are a lot of sonatas that describe or imitate some of the guitar sounds or dances that were played on the guitar.

-Hm. This is a modern guitar. -Yes.

-So, this was built maybe in the '50s, '40s, '60s, something?

-This is built in 1960, and this is from here, from the Ramirez store.

Amalia, who gracefully has lent me the guitar, she said that this guitar actually belonged to Segovia.

-Really? -So, I'm feeling ghosts and... -This is a piece of history.

-Obviously, yes. -Nice.

-But this is the guitar that Gaspar Sanz would have used.

This is the baroque guitar. -Wow.

-And this was the instrument of the baroque era here in Spain.

-Can I smell it, actually? I love smelling instruments.

Hold on. [ Sniffs ] Hm. It smells old. -Yeah?

-Yeah. It's nice.

-You're right. -Yeah, it's nice.

So Scarlatti might have heard an instrument just like this?

-Yes. He did.

And it wasn't the keyboard, as it may have been in Germany, or the violin in Italy, for example.

But it was the guitar that was the main instrument in the baroque era in Spain.

And it did, in fact, influence Scarlatti.

-Could you show me how he took the guitar sound and put it into his keyboard music?


Uh, for example, this is from 'Sonata in A Major' by Scarlatti.

And one of the effects that he used to imitate it was that of the rasgueado guitar.

-Rasgueado? -Rasgueado.

-What does that mean?

-Rasgueado is when you play a chord and instead of just strumming with one finger, you do it with several... You know, with several fingers.

So, a simple rasgueado would be this.


-If you play flamenco, it will be much more elaborate.

-Okay. -But a basic rasgueado is this.

So, for example, in this sonata... Let me see if I remember.

♪♪ ♪♪ -I definitely hear that strumming.

Now, what you just played was written for the keyboard, not for the guitar.

-Right. -Right, okay.

Are there other sounds from the guitar that go into keyboard music?

-Well, I think the rasgueado is probably the most typical of the guitar.

But another example, for example, from this piece, is the beginning.

And this is the influence, not necessarily of the guitar, but of Spanish music of the time.

And this is the jota. And it's like this. Like... ♪♪ ♪♪ And so on. -That's beautiful.

Are there other sounds of the guitar that show up in Scarlatti's music?

-Actually, in another sonata that I play, there is something that is called Andalusian cadence.

-Oh, sure. -Yeah. So it's... ♪♪ -Right. So, this -- What you just played, that's part of a larger Scarlatti sonata?

-It is. -Would you mind playing it?

-I would love to play it for you.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Now it all made sense.

Well before Scarlatti arrived, the Spanish guitar had already adopted all of Spain's musical influences.

When Scarlatti then adopted guitar sounds, he channeled all those influences into his music.

The guitar was the transmitter.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Each season, Scarlatti moved with the queen between her palaces around Madrid -- like this one, El Escorial.

♪♪ My wife and I met Antonio here one last time to hear exactly how Scarlatti played the guitar and other Spanish sounds on his keyboard.

♪♪ Bravo!

[ Applause ] -Thank you. -It sounds great.

How you doing, man? -Nice to see you.

-This is a really cool place.

-Isn't it? -It looks like it's very old.

-Yes, actually, it's from Scarlatti's time, more or less.

So, this is one of the few theaters in Spain which remains untouched from that time.

Probably from the 18th century, this is the only one that remains as it was.

-So, I think I've heard a lot of the sounds that I think have inspired Scarlatti.

But how did he take those sounds and transfer them into the keyboard?

-Well, if you want, I can show you.


Let's take the sonata you just listened to.

In the second part, you have some Spanish dance rhythms, like the fandango.

♪♪ -I always thought that sounded like horses or something.

-It reminds of horses. -Yeah.

-But it's actually a rhythm, a dance rhythm.

-Right. -And, then, if you remember this sonata we listened to in the flamenco scene, with Illy?

-Mm-hmm. -Just at the beginning, you have the strumming of the guitar in the left hand.

♪♪ -Totally sounds like a guitar. -Yes.

-And the thumping of the heels and the palms on the right.

♪♪ -That was like Illeana's heels hitting the floor.

-That's right. -Right.

-Well, you know what? I want to play for you one sonata which kind of packs all these things together.

-Okay. -We can see also some other things from the Spanish sounds.

Like, for example, Moorish sounds.

-Really? Can you show me what those sound like?

-Yes. You know, he incorporated these sounds, which are extraneous a little bit to the harmony, but that give it this Moorish, flamenco-like color.

-Hm. -You know, like this.

♪♪ -Oh, yeah.

♪♪ It doesn't sound like music written in the 18th century.

-Not at all.

-It sounds like late Brahms or something like that.

-Yes. Or rock 'n' roll, for that matter.

-Yeah, sure. Sure. -If you want.

And, also, this same passage, if you play it fast, you can kind of listen to two guitars strumming at the same time.

-Two guitars? -Yes.

-Okay. -Like... ♪♪ Actually, I'm playing like 12 notes all at the same time.

-10 notes? -No, 12 notes, because I'm using my thumb to play two notes with each hand.

-Really? Can you show me? -Yes, of course.

♪♪ -Oh, I see. And Scarlatti wrote it that way?

He meant for you to play two notes with each thumb?

-That's right. It's like all you can play.

-That's very cool. Can I hear the whole sonata?

-Of course. Let's do it. -All right.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -To leap out of the baroque and influence the romantic era, Scarlatti merged the many ethnic sounds of Spain with his Latin background to create a new musical language.

It was the first global fusion, 250 years before World Music became a thing.

Maybe that's the reason he's so popular with pianists and concert-goers today -- his groundbreaking modernity was so far ahead of its time that it only now feels right at home.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Back in Madrid, Amir was in the studio working on a new album.

We wanted to record the violin transcription I did earlier... then, in a move that Scarlatti would hopefully appreciate, see what modern Spanish-North African fusion it could inspire.

Hey, man. Amir, how are you doing?

-How are you? You okay? -I'm doing pretty good.


Nice to meet you, Alice.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -It's true what Olivier said -- new music is really just a new way of mixing the old.

And the mixing of different cultures often leads to our best new work.

I'm Scott Yoo, and I hope you can now hear this.

♪♪ ♪♪ -To order 'Now Hear This' on DVD or the companion CD, visit shopPBS or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.

This program is also available on Amazon Prime Video.

♪♪ ♪♪ To find out more about this and other 'Great Performances' programs, visit

Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

♪♪ -Next time on 'Great Performances,' George Frideric Handel, famous for the 'Hallelujah' chorus, was a German composer who settled in London.

But before that, he went to Italy.

I went there to follow in his footsteps to discover how Italian culture changed his life forever.

Can you imagine what he thought when he saw this?

-You cannot help but be changed by Rome.


On the next episode of 'Now Hear This,' Handel, Italian-style.


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