Alessandro Scarlatti was born in Palermo on 2 May 1660. In 1678 he married Antonia Anzalone by whom he had ten children, including the great Domenico. When still quite young, Scarlatti made himself known in Roman musical circles through his pastoral fable 'Gli equivoci del sembiante' performed in 1679. In addition to writing operas, Scarlatti tried his hand at the cantata - one of the musical genres preferred by the nobility of the time - and sacred music. The writing of sacred compositions became a professional obligation following the composer’s appointment as maestro di cappella at the church of S Gerolamo della Carità.
Giovanni Bononcini, born in Modena in 1670, came from a family of musicians. He studied under his father and under C B Colonna and, at a very early age, started his career as a virtuoso on the violoncello and other instruments, and composer in his home town. After early experiences in the musical centres of the north of Italy, he moved to Rome where, from 1692 to 1697 he was in the service of the Colonna family. In 1697 Bononcini obtained the post of Maestro di Cappella at the Hapsburg court where he served first under Emperor Leopold I and then under Joseph I. He remained in Vienna until 1713, making sporadic visits to other cities of Germany and Italy.