Lelio Colista

Lelio Colista (13 January 1629, Rome – 13 October 1680, Rome) was an Italian Baroque composer and lutenist.

Funded by his father, who held an important position in the Vatican library, Colista early received an excellent musical education, probably at the Seminario Romano. He masterly managed several instruments, especially the lute and theorbo. Already at the age of 30, he held a lucrative post of custode delle pittore at the papal chapel. In 1664, supported by the Cardinal Flavio Chigi, he performed in Paris at the court of the Louis XIV. During the last 20 years of his life, he had been a demanded composer and teacher in Rome.

He wrote mostly instrumental music, however, no pieces had been published during his lifetime. But his influence on the musicians residing in Rome was still significant. His music was written in a simpler and less demanding style than that of his contemporaries. Arcangelo Corelli mentioned him in the preface of his Opus 1 as one of the più professori musici di Roma. Henry Purcell valued in 1694 his counterpoint skills. Colista had also an influence on the Corelli's and Purcell's trio sonatas through his earlier da chiesa sonatas for two violins and basso continuo described by Colista as Symphonies. His music was generally admired both by the audience and the patrons. He was described as vere Romanae urbis Orpheus (truly the Orpheus of the city of Rome) by Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher. His works are usually referenced to by the thematic catalogue by Antonella D'Ovidio, denoted WK.