A native of Apulia, Leonardo Leo studied in Naples, where he won early recognition from the Viceroy and appointment as an organist to the court chapel. For the last nine months of his life he held the position of maestro di cappella to the royal chapel, having previously served as a deputy in this position. He wrote a quantity of music, sacred and secular, and was an important figure in the musical life of Naples, both as a composer and as a teacher. His pupils included Piccinni.
Leo’s first opera was staged in 1714 and followed by a series of such works, the last written in the year of his death. He contributed to the repertoire of Neapolitan commedia per musica and in 1717 introduced the chorus into Neapolitan opera.
Leo was a prolific composer of church music; his output includes many settings of the Ordinary and the Proper of the Mass, psalms, hymns, canticles, cantatas, motets and oratorios.