Giovanni Battista Draghi
) was born in Jesi (province of Ancona) in 1710. Jesi
is in the valley dell'Esino and is a city of remarkable industrial traditions. The nickname "Pergolesi
" comes from his grandfather Francesco, a native artisan of the town of Pergola (PU), who, in 1635, moved to Giovanni Battista’s hometown.
His father's position, a government administrator, allowed the young man to have a relatively well-off youth and a first musical training. He made his first studies of organ and violin in his hometown; during this period he showed a remarkable musical talent. At the age of fifteen years, thanks to the patronage of the Bishop of Larino and Governor of the Holy House of Loreto Carlo Maria Pianetti, he was admitted in the famous Conservatory of the Poor of Jesus Christ in Naples, where he studied composition with some of the most famous authors of the Neapolitan music school, such as Francesco Durante and Gaetano Greco.
In the first half of the eighteenth century Naples was undoubtedly one of the liveliest cities in terms of music: artists such as Alessandro Scarlatti, Nicola Porpora or Leonardo Leo had successfully proposed the Neapolitan musical style in the courts of Europe and it is not surprising that in 1739 the French writer and politician Charles de Brosses referring to Naples defined it the world capital of music.
By virtue of his talent as a violinist, Pergolesi was appointed in 1729 Chief of the "Paranza" of the conservatory orchestra, a title that can be associated with the current concertmaster. He graduated in 1731 when he was twenty-one, composing, as a final essay, "L' Oratorio", and "La conversione e morte di San Guglielmo"; in the last year of studies he had already composed other valuable works such as "L'oratorio", "La fenice sul rogo", that is the Death of S. Giuseppe (whose attribution is not considered as sure by some researchers), a Mass in D and the work "Salustia" (staged two years later), which gave him some fame and put him on the list of the most promising young Neapolitan composers.
Just thanks to his notoriety, at the end of his studies he was hired by Prince Stigliano Colonna (belonging to the Neapolitan branch of the well-known noble family) with the task of choirmaster, also enjoying the protection of the influential Duke of Maddaloni.