After elementary school, he entered the seminary, where he began studying music under Francesco Bagnoli, choir master of the cathedral.
On 23 December 1939 he was ordained a priest and in the same year earned a diploma in composition and orchestra direction. After teaching at the seminary, he moved to Rome to develop his knowledge of sacred music and subsequently became the assistant choir master at St. John Latern.
In 1952, he was appointed assistant choir master of the Sistine Chapel Choir under Fr. Lorenzo Perosi. In 1956, when Perosi died, Pope Pius XII named Bartolucci as Direttore Perpetuo (director for life) of the Sistine Chapel Choir. For more than 40 years as director, he participated in various momentous occasions throughout five papacies, including performing L’Ascensione for John Paul II after the attempt on the Pope’s life.
In addition, he has a vast opus of published music including six books of motets, six masses, as well as many other compositions. In occasion of his 85th birthday, the Domenico Bartolucci Foundation was created to preserve and distribute his musical legacy, as well as offering a concert for Benedict XVI on 24 June 2006 in the Sistine Chapel, and on 31 August 2011 at Castel Gandolfo in the Apostolic Palace. For this occasion, the Maestro composed the piece Benedictus, dedicated to the Pope as a pray and thanking the Lord for the Pope’s ministry.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Benedict XVI in the consistory of 20 November 2010, of the Deaconry of Santissimi Nomi di Gesù e Maria in via Lata (the Most Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in Via Latia).
Cardinal Domenico Bartolucci died on 11 November 2013.