Domenico Zipoli

Biography

Born: October 17, 1688   Died: January 2, 1726   Country: Italy  
Musicologists do not often get to tell of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European composers who traveled across the Atlantic to the New World and began their careers afresh in North or South America. Certainly there were many Europeans from all walks of life -- musicians included -- who for one reason or another moved to the Americas; but, frankly, virtually none of the composers who did so were any good at their craft, and so musicologists Read more do not tell of them. The composer Domenico Zipoli, who was born in Italy in 1688 and moved to Argentina with a Jesuit missionary in 1717, was a notable exception.

Born in the town of Prato, Zipoli moved around a great deal as a youth. First, supported by a grant from the local duke, he went to Florence for intensive training as an organist; then he was off to Naples to work under the famous Alessandro Scarlatti; and then, in 1709, he found himself taking lessons in Bologna. Finally, in 1710, Zipoli went to Rome to apply as a pupil of Bernardo Pasquini. He remained in Rome for six years, working as organist to Rome's Jesuit Church during his last two years in the city. He officially joined the Jesuit Order in 1716, and soon he was on a boat bound for South America.

Zipoli played organ at the cathedral in Córdoba, Argentina, until his death in 1726. In addition, he studied to become a priest, but died before he could attain that goal. At the time of his death, Zipoli was the most famous organist, and very possibly the most famous musician of any kind, in European-ruled South America.

Zipoli composed three oratorios before moving to the New World; all, however, are lost, save for the libretti. A sizeable volume of his keyboard music, issued in 1715, just months before he left Rome, has survived. About half of the clever, skillfully crafted pieces in it are for organ; the other half are for harpsichord. Representing Zipoli's South American career is a mass for soprano, alto, and tenor, and instrumental ensemble, that was often performed for many decades after his death. Read less

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