Gabriello Puliti
Relevant Non-Istrians


abriello Puliti, a Franciscan monk and Italian composer and organist, was born in the Tuscan town of Montepulciano around 1580 [some say around 1575] and he died in Istria sometime around 1641 to 1944 [some say 1643].  As a young man, he entered the Conventual Franciscan order. While employed as an organist in various Italian cities (Pontremoli, Piacenza), he published two collections of polyphonic sacral compositions.

The geographical position of Koper and Piran, the major towns on the north-eastern coast of the Adriatic sea, in-between the cultural impulses coming from the centre of the Venetian Republic across the sea and the neighbouring Habsburg provinces in the mainland, fostered in the 17th century a highly developed cultural life. Gabriello Puliti became one of the outstanding personalities in the musical life of these towns in the second and third decades of that century. He composed 36 sacred and secular works including a variety of musical forms then in use.

From 1604 until his death Puliti lived in Istria, working as an organist in Muggia, Trieste, Koper and Labin, and also spending some time in Franciscan monasteries in Pula and on the island of Pag. Puliti is documented from ca. 1609 to at least 1624 in Piran and Koper.

Puliti was a prolific composer. He composed secular madrigals, masquerades, instrumental pieces, masses and other religious music. His four collections of solo motets for soprano or tenor and basso continuo (three of them survived: Pungenti dardi spirituali, Lilia convallium and Sacri accenti), published in Venice between 1618 and 1620, show Puliti as a worthy early-Baroque master of sacred monody, one of the numerous Kleinmeister of small concertato motets, the form that was spreading at the time from Northern Italy to the Habsburg provinces. With his connections in Carniola and Styria, Gabriello Puliti might be considered also as one of the possible links in the transfer of the genre to the German-speaking lands in the early 17th century.

To date, fifteen collections of Puliti's works have been preserved as a whole or in parts. The collection Sacri concentus unis, binis, ternisque vocibus (Venice 1614) op. 14 is Puliti's first "Istrian" collection of sacral music preserved as a whole. Dedication to the Bishop of Krk, Ivan Turrini (1589-1623),  along with other documents, is a valuable testimony to the life of Puliti's compositions on the island of Krk. The learned bishop Turrini was known as a patron of arts, and Sacri concentus is one of the major monuments of Baroque music on the island.

Puliti signed the collection Pungenti dardi spirituali (Venice 1618) op. 20 as the organist of the Koper cathedral. It was the first of his known works that contained exclusively monodic compositions, and is dedicated "alli Molto Reuerendi Padri del Covento di Santa Croce di Fiorenza". The compositions in the collection, however, as seen from the dedications, were meant for musicians, priests and generally educated people of Koper and the whole of Istria. In those years, the Tuscan Puliti was already highly esteemed in Istria, both by the Italian nobility and eminent personalities and by the Croatian populace which filled the church on Sundays and on holy days.

Lilia convalium Beatae Mariae Virginis (Venice 1620), op. 22 the collection marked as "Libro terzo delli concerti a 1.v. canto o tenore" and dedicated to the Brutis, a noble Koper family of Albanian origin, contains Marianic compositions typical of the early Baroque Marianic cult. In this, as in the preceding collection, there is one concerta written "Ad istanza del P.F. Jacopo Finetti maestro di Cappella alli Frari di Venetia". Finetti, a Franciscan composer of repute, signed the dedication on one of major collections of Croatian musical Baroque, The Sagrae cantiones (Venice 1620), motets by the Sibenik composer Ivan Marko Lukačić. These dedications are yet another reminder of the strong influence of Franciscans on the musical life on the Croatian Adriatic coast.

There is an interesting note in the afterword to Lillia convalium: "Essendomi state detto d'alcuni che questi miei Mottetti sono alquanto difficili, io gli rispondoche I'ho composti solo per quelli Virtuosi, che sanno ben Cantare, et non per quelli che strapazzano il mestiere. State sani". Similar note is found at the end of the following, fourth book of monodic sacral concertos, Sacri accenti (Venice 1629), op 23, dedicated to Pietro Pola, an eminent Istrian intellectual, "persona intedentissima di Musica, la cui casa si può dir una Accademia di musica". In spite of the reputation he enjoyed in Istria, and in spite of the fact that he often signed his printed works as "Accademico Armonico detto l'Allegro" (he was probably a member of the Koper learned society Accademia Palladia) - Puliti obviously had difficulties with the demanding virtuosity of his works. It is possible that the very virtuosity of his sacral monodies was the reason his compositions are known only to a narrow circle of music historians.

His last work Sa/mi Dominicali (1635) is marked op. 36. Along with the Veronese Tomaso Cecchini (c. 1580­1644), an organist in the Split and Hvar cathedrals, Puliti was the most outstanding Italian musician working in the Istria-Dalmatia region in the early 17th century.

Selected Works:

  • Gabriello Puliti, Musica Sacra, Sveta Glazba - Sacral Music, CD Ed. 0103 & 0105, recorded in Croatia and made in Austria 1995. All rights reserved.

From the CD:

With this CD, Puliti's opus will finally reach a wider audience. The roots of the wealth of Istrian Baroque culture and history made up of various components - Croatian, Slovene and Italian - can be recognized today in the music of Gabriello Puliti, Tuscan by origin, Franciscan Conventual, organist, and eminent and prolific composer in his time. If we wish to immerse ourselves in that time almost four centuries ago, we simply have to surrender to exquisite virtuosity and inspired music of instrumentalists and singers "che sanno ben cantare".

This CD is the first recording of the music of Gabriello Puliti (Montepulciano, c. 1580 - Istria?, c. 1643). By selecting the predominantly monodic compositions, printed in collections between 1614 and 1620, an attempt has been made to present some of the best work of that prolific and diverse as yet not sufficiently known old master. Due mostly to Puliti, Istria was a distinctive part of European Baroque music of the early 17th century. The second CD, soon to be released, making a whole with the first will consist predominantly of Puliti's polyphonic sacral compositions.

Audio samples (performances by Giorgio Surian)

See also:


  • Gabriello Puliti, Musica Sacra, Sveta Glazba - Sacral Music, CD Ed. 0103 & 0105, recorded in Croatia and made in Austria 1995. All rights reserved.
  • Production of the early-Baroque sacred monody in the Venetian towns on the North-Eastern side of the Adriatic sea - Metoda Kokole -

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Created: Tuesday, December 29, 2004; Last Updated: Thursday, August 06, 2015
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