Gaetano Greco | 15 Toccate

Gaetano GRECO (1657-1728)
 Critical edition edited by Friedrich Lippmann                                                                

LIM Editore, Lucca

Collection of Italian Music from the Eighteenth Century
in collaboration with Società Italiana di Musicologia.

Scientific Committee: 
Alberto Basso, Mariateresa Dellaborra, Teresa Gialdroni, Friedrich Lippmann, Guido Salvetti, Agostino Ziino

Read the preview


The dates of Gaetano Greco are uncertain: both the year of his birth and of his death can be indicated only by approximation: circa 1657 to circa 1728. It seems that he remained in Naples throughout his entire life. After his studies at the Conservatorio dei Poveri di Gesù Cristo Greco became a composition teacher at that same institute; later, he went to teach at the conservatory of Saint Onofrio. Surely one of his teachers of composition was Gennaro Ursino. The other teachers instead have to be indicated with a question mark at this actual point of research: it could be Giovanni Salvatore and Alessandro Scarlatti. The Encyclopedias – MGG and New Groves – indicate Domenico Scarlatti and Porpora among those who surely were his composition pupils, and Pergolesi among the uncertain ones.

In addition to some da chiesa compositions, it seems that Greco only wrote works for the harpsichord (or for the organ: several of his works for keyboard are also suitable for the organ). The most part of the musical sources for his harpsichord works – all in manuscript – is located in the Library of the Music Conservatory «San Pietro a Majella» of Naples. Other important sources are located in London (The British Library) and in Bruxelles (Bibliothèque Royale). Almost surely none of his works were ever printed while Greco lived.

[…] Nonetheless the fact that I dare speak of Gaetano Greco is founded, on one side, on the fact that he is one of the most significant Neapolitan masters between the XVII and the XVIII century and that, for this reason, it is not possible to pass him under silence in this congress; on the other hand, there is also the circumstance that Greco, with good probability, was also one of the teachers of Domenico Scarlatti.

[…] None of the works for harpsichord are dated, and it would be difficult to determine how many and which of the compositions belong to the Seventeenth century. If it is true that Domenico Scarlatti studied with Greco – or at least, also with Greco – that must have happened before 1705: from that year and until 1708 he studied, as is known, in Venice with Francesco Gasparini, after which he was active in various positions in different localities outside of Naples. It is therefore possible that the style of Greco, which in some specific details seems to have influenced that of Domenico Scarlatti (of this we will speak later), had already been formed in its fundamental traits before 1705.

The Toccatas

A proper collocation of the Toccatas by Greco can only be obtained by comparing them with analogous works of his contemporary musicians, especially Italian ones. The toccatas by Pasquini and Alessandro Scarlatti, most of all, are suitable to this comparison. […]

It is Alessadro Scarlatti, more than Pasquini, to find more contact points with Greco in his frequent fugato closings. Scarlatti knew also the way to end with a dance; and so it happens for example in the the last of the toccatas edited by Ruggero Gerlin in 1943 in «I Classici Musicali Italiani» collection, which ends with a corrente, that is to say in the same way as the one in g minor by Greco.

[…] Even from the stand point of harmony Alessandro Scarlatti, as also Pasquini, appears to be more polished in comparison to Greco. One would look in vain, for example, for the accumulations of dissonances that we find between bars 6 and 16 of the g minor toccata by Greco. In comparison with Alessandro Scarlatti and Pasquini, it would seem that in the toccatas by Greco, and especially in the one in g minor, a taste for “harshness” (dissonance) that comes down from Frescobaldi and De Macque, has remained.[…]

Taken from :


by Friedrich Lippmann
La Musica a Napoli durante il Seicento

(Music in Naples during the Eighteenth Century)

Acts of the International Study Convention
Naples, April 11-14, 1985
Edited by Domenico Antonio D’Alessandro and Agostino Ziino
Rome, 1987 pp. 294-306

Fondazione Arcadia