Domenico Zipoli was the sixth child born to Sabatino Zipoli and Eugenia Varocchi. The Prato Cathedral organist-choirmasters in his youth were both Florentines: Ottavio Termini (from 1703) and Giovanni Francesco Beccatelli. On 12 September 1707 he petitioned Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, for six scudi monthly so that he could study at Florence, where the cathedral organist from 1703 was Giovanni Maria Casini. On 2 February and 9 March 1708 he cooperated with Casini, Caldara, Gasparini and 20 others in composing an oratorio produced at Florence under the supervision of Orlandini by the Compagnia di S Marco, and later that year at the Oratorians' church in a version with arias by Zipoli replacing those of Omodei Sequi. Supported by a further ducal charity grant, he moved to Naples in 1709 for lessons with Alessandro Scarlatti but left in the same year after disagreements and went to study at Bologna under Lavinio Felice Vannucci; he next went from Bologna to Rome for lessons with the veteran Bernardo Pasquini. Staying in Rome after Pasquini's death in 1710, he composed two oratorios of which only the librettos survive, S. Antonio di Padova (1712) and S.Caterina vergine, e martire (1714). In 1715 he was appointed organist of the Jesuit church at Rome and the next year published the keyboard collection on which his fame rests, Sonate d'intavolatura. The Princess of Forano to whom he dedicated the work, Maria Teresa Strozzi, may have been related to the bishop, Leone Strozzi, who had confirmed him at Prato Cathedral on 2 May 1699. Throughout his stay in Rome Zipoli lodged with Filippo Baldocci, prior of S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini.
Zipoli joined the Society of Jesus on 1 July 1716, and soon after went to Seville to await passage to the Paraguay province. With 53 other prospective Jesuit missionaries he sailed from Cadiz on 5 April 1717. After a violent storm he and the others disembarked in July at Buenos Aires, and after 15 days set out for Cordoba. By 1724 he had completed with distinction the required three years each of philosophy and theology at the Jesuit Colegio Maximo and university in Cordoba. He was ready to receive priest's orders in 1725, but died (of tuberculosis) without them for lack of a bishop in Cordoba to ordain him that year.
Zipoli was one of many excellent musicians recruited by the Jesuits between 1650 and 1750 for work in the so-called Paraguay reductions. His music was much in demand in South America: the viceroy in Lima asked for copies, and as late as 1784 a three-part orchestrally accompanied mass was copied in Potosi and sent to Sucre (Higher Peru, now Bolivia). Jesuit documents of 1728, 1732 and later note his continuing reputation up to at least 1774 in Yapeyu and other Guarany Indian villages from which Europeans were excluded; at one mission, S Pedro y S Pablo, nine 'motetes' by Zipoli were listed among the effects left after the expulsion of the Jesuits. In the 1970s some 23 works by Zipoli (including copies of known keyboard pieces) were discovered among a large collection of manuscripts at the San Rafael and Santa Ana missions in eastern Bolivia (they are now deposited at Concepcion, Apostolic Vicariate of Nuflo de Chavez). At San Rafael the Swiss Jesuit Martin Schmid (1694--1772) may have prepared a Spanish drama celebrating the lives of Loyola and Francis Xavier, which ended with a paragraph in the Chiquitano language summarizing the moral of the drama. In 1997 the Argentine scholar Bernado Illari interpolated excerpts into this (including some possibly by Zipoli) to form an 'opera', S. Ignacio.
The charm and winsomeness of Zipoli's 1716 keyboard works inspired their republication in London by Walsh and in Paris (1741; the harpsichord music only). The first part, for organ, consists of a brilliant prefatory toccata followed by five sets of short versos, each set ending with a canzona (of which much the most elaborate is the last in G minor), two elevations, a post-communion, an offertory and a folklike pastorale. The second part, for harpsichord, contains four short dance suites and two partitas (or variations). Zipoli moved freely between keys, timed his modulations exquisitely, never laboured an imitative point, made a virtue of concision, and wrote melodies instead of mere contrapuntal lines. His South American mass, copied at Potosi in 1784, closing with the 'Osanna', exhibits similar virtues. He was the most renowned Italian composer to go to the New World in colonial times and the most famous to have chosen the Jesuit order.

(Robert Stevenson, New Grove)