Rorate Caeli

A Musical Gem: Initium sapientiae timor Domini by Nicola Fago

Initium sapientiae timor Domini (from Psalm-setting Confitebor Tibi , Psalm 110 ) was composed around the year 1706 by Nicola Fago, primo maestro at the Conservatorio di Sant’ Onofrio a Capuana, from 1704 to 1708.

Initium sapientiae timor Domini” [as part of Vulgate, Psalm 110, Confitebor] was a setting commonly used for Vespers accompanied with other liturgical pieces in Neapolitan churches.
Nicola Fago was the first Neapolitan composer of comical operas, but it is his sacred music that brought him fame. Five settings of Psalm 110 which Fago composed, required usually 4 to 5 voices in total, using  the standard texts contained in the biblical Book of Psalms.

Sacred music was required, at least occasionally, in literally hundreds of Neapolitan churches, as well as in oratorios, congregations, and academies, and for many public and private functions. Fago’s long engagement with the churches and chapels of Naples is attested to by his enormous output of sacred music, the surviving scores of which include a Requiem, eleven settings of the Mass, eighteen psalm-settings including this “Initium sapientiae timor Domini”, seven Magnificats, four liturgies and dozens of smaller settings of sacred texts.

Francesco Nicola Fago entered the Conservatorio di S. Maria della Pietà dei Turchini in 1693 as a pupil of Francesco Provenzale (1632–1704), the most important Neapolitan composer of the seventeenth century. A turning point in Fago’s career came in Naples on 27 November 1701, when he married Caterina Grimaldi, a younger sister of the famous castrato Nicolo Grimaldi (known as ‘Il Nicolino’), later knighted for his artistic merits. This relationship probably helped Fago obtain his first positions, as a teacher (primo maestro) at the Conservatorio di Sant’ Onofrio a Capuana , from 1704 to 1708, and thereafter at his alma mater, the Pietà dei Turchini, from 1705 to 1740. In 1709 he was appointed maestro di capella of the Tesoro di San Gennaro chapel, attached to Naples Cathedral and thus one of the most important institutions in the city. Fago also taught at many other churches and confraternite.

Source reference : Eugenio Faustini-Fasini: Nicola Fago "Il Tarantino" and his Family


The astonishing young contratenor: Jakub Józef Orliński


Anima Sacra