The musical training of Giovanni Paolo Colonna (Bologna, 1637 - 1695) took place initially in his city of origin, and then in Rome, where he had important musicians as masters, including Antonio Maria Abbatini, Orazio Benevoli and Giacomo Carissimi. Colonna was elected organist of the basilica of S. Petronio in 1658, and in 1674 he became chapel master. His fame crossed the Italian borders during his life: his music was requested directly by the Hapsburg court in Vienna, ordered by Emperor Leopold I. The Bolognese musician enjoyed great esteem and popularity even after his death. The French composer and theorist Sebastien De Brossard (1655 - 1730) called him «Le maitre des maitres».
His output is almost entirely dedicated devoted to sacred music. His contrapuntal style is rich, severe and of high quality, rhythmically smooth and exuberant, typical of the late Baroque. The vocal writing is therefore of a virtuosic level, in particular in the solo sections, due to the almost instrumental agility with which they are treated: in this context it may be considered that he has made a decisive contribution to the development of that Bolognese singing school which acquired so much importance from the last decade of the 17th century and throughout the 18th century. These elements, together with a very expressive harmonic language, are present in the Mass in e minor for five voices and strings, in which moments of great luminous quality are not lacking, while in the Missa pro defunctis for eight voices in two choirs and basso continuo the writing is essentially based on antiphonal models.