Antonio Francisco Javier José Soler Ramos, usually known as Padre Antonio Soler, (baptized 3 December 1729, died 20 December 1783) was a Spanish composer whose works span the late Baroque and early Classical music eras. He is best known for his keyboard sonatas, an important contribution to the harpsichord, fortepiano and organ repertoire.
Soler was born in Olot in the Catalan province of Girona. In 1736, when he was six, he entered the Escolania of the great Monastery of Montserrat where he studied with the resident maestro Benito Esteve and organist Benito Valls. In 1744 he was appointed organist at the Cathedral of La Seu d'Urgell and appointed as a subdeacon at the same time. Later in life, he held posts as chapel master in Lleida and El Escorial.
Soler took Holy Orders at the age of 23 and his routine with the Hieronymite order near El Escorial, Madrid was a simple one for the next 31 years. His 20 hour days were filled with prayer, contemplation and farming - a simple and unadorned life. Yet, in these austere surroundings, Soler managed to produce more than 500 musical works. Amongst these were around 150 keyboard sonatas, many believed to have been written as sheet music for his pupil, the Infante Don Gabriel, a son of King Carlos III. Other pieces include Christmas villancicos and Latin church music including masses. He died at the monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. No portraits of him are known to exist.
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). However, Soler's works are more varied in form than those of Scarlatti, with some pieces in three or four movements; Scarlatti's pieces are in one or two movements. Fortunately, Soler's sonatas were catalogued 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, 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 been often 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.
- Recordings of works solely by Soler
- 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
- Recordings of works by Soler & other composers
- ^ edited as Siete villancicos de navidad Instituto de Musica Religiosa de la Excma. Diputacion Provincial, Cuenca [Spain]1979
- ^ edited by Ediciones Escurialenses, Editorial Patrimonio Nacional, 1983.