Domenico Gabrielli (1659-1690)
S. Sigismondo re di Borgogna, Oratorio per 5 voci con strumenti
The musical prestige of Bologna during the baroque period was founded upon the activities of two ancient civic institutions: the musical chapel of San Petronio, which was founded in 1436 and actively flourished throughout the entire 17th century; and the Concerto Palatino della Signoria, whose origins may be traced back to the civic criers of the 13th century. The two institutions, though of different standing, were equally desirable positions of employment: the first for its indisputable professional prestige, the second for the much its much more remunerative and enticing salary. In the Seicento, the intense cultural life of the city was further fostered by the foundation of various accademie, instituted with the primary objective of patronizing and realizing musical activities as well as instructing their members in musical theory and practice. Among these institutions, the celebrated Accademia Filarmonica, founded in 1666 and one of the most important musical societies of all time, was the vital core of Bolognese music. The oratorio as a genre enjoyed particular favor in Bologna, flourishing first in the hands of Giovanni Paolo Colonna (a pupil in Rome of Carissimi), and later in those of his worthy Bolognese successors, Vitali, Ariosti, Gabrielli, Pistocchi, Degli Antonii and Perti. In 1618 Pope Gregory XV gave the Padri Filippini permission to use the church of S. Maria di Galliera for their devotional activities. Before this time, the Congregazione dell’Oratorio filippino, founded in Bologna in 1615, held its spiritual exercises in the small church of S. Barbara. The musical activities of the Congregation were led by a praefectus musicae, who would have been for the most part an internal member of the Congregation itself. His functions were comparable to those of a modern artistic director, and he might or might not have also been the maestro di cappella. This latter figure was responsible for technical/musical questions and oversaw the organist and the other musicians. The post of maestro di cappella for the Filippini Fathers was not a professional one on a par with the others mentioned above, such as the direction of the chapel at S. Petronio. The maestro di cappella and the organist were hired with a monthly salary, while the musicians did not receive regular payment but were instead mostly volunteers who were occasionally paid or foreigners who resided within the Congregation. Particularly memorable maestri di cappella of the Oratorio dei Filippini were Colonna and Giacomo Antonio Perti, who both subsequently served as directors of the chapel of S. Petronio, as well as being prolific dramatic composers.