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Lelio Colista


Born: January 13, 1629; Rome, Italy   Died: October 13, 1680; Rome, Italy  
Lelio Colista was an influential early/middle Baroque composer; he was also a virtuoso instrumentalist and a shrewd businessman who amassed great wealth. Lelio was born in 1629 in Rome, but nothing is known of his childhood or musical training; his rapid rise to prominence suggests that his father, who was an official in the Vatican library, used his connections to buoy up his son's career. By the age of 30, Colista had already been granted the Read more prestigious and lucrative post of Custode delle pittore at the Sistine Chapel, a position he held until his death. Colista also worked at a number of the other main churches of Rome and participated in the musical productions of numerous festivals and yearly feasts. In 1675 alone he contributed to the performance of 14 oratorios at S Giovanni dei Francesi. (His own two oratorios have unfortunately been lost.) Aside from his work within the church, Colista gave many performances at private gatherings of the Roman aristocracy. His contributions to the musical life of the city were evidently appreciated as much by the audience as by the patrons; on one occasion, he was awarded, on top of his fee, a fine pair of gloves that the audience had filled with donations of their own money. As a composer, Colista mainly produced instrumental works, including sinfonias, sonatas, and trio sonatas. His influence on musicians in Rome and beyond was significant. Among the notable contemporaries who fruitfully studied his scores are Arcangelo Corelli (who was strongly influenced by the trio sonatas) and Henry Purcell. Lelio's instrumental pieces are more simple in style and considerably less demanding than the music of his peers. Considering that Colista was a virtuoso on lute and guitar, this suggests that his interests were mainly formal and intellectual, rather than technical. His music is emotionally understated and often slow, with an emphasis on elegance of counterpoint and sweetness of instrumental sound. Lelio died in 1680. Read less

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