Portugal - All About Musicians  

Amália Rodrigues
Born in 1920 in Lisbon and died in 1999. Amália de Piedade Rebordão Rodrigues has become in her lifetime an internationally known star as a popular singer of "Fado" and Portuguese folk music. The word "Fado" refers to a distinct Portuguese style of lyric that is sung in a special manner and accompanied on a viola and guitar. There are two recognized schools of these sonnets, one from Lisbon and the other from the University town of Coimbra. The artist in early years appeared in theatrical reviews and also in one or two films. She has appeared in New York and at the Olympia in Paris. In 1997 she published a series of poems under the name "Versos".

Domingos Bontempo
Born in Lisbon in 1771 and died in 1842. He studied in Lisbon and Paris where he published his works. Upon the French invasion of Portugal he fled to London where he achieved enormous success. He returned to Portugal, to the court of Dom João VI, and founded in 1822 the first Portuguese Royal Philharmonic Society. He died leaving a vast collection of compositions for piano, cantatas, orchestra, and a mass named "Missa de Requeim", considered to be his best work.

Luísa Todi
Born in Setúbal in 1753, and died in 1833. A very popular opera singer who married the Italian violinist Francisco Todi. She had a rich strong voice and the demand for her talent came mainly from the royal courts of Europe although she made many other public performances. Amongst these she was invited to perform before Frederic II of Prussia and Catarina II of Russia. After many years touring Europe she eventually settled in Lisbon in 1811. The invasion of the Napoleon’s troops into her beloved country affected her to such an extent that her health declined and she died shortly afterwards.

José Vianna da Mota
Born in São Tomé, Cape Verde Islands in 1868. He studied the piano in the Royal Conservatory in Lisbon, later moving to Berlin frequenting the "Schawenka School". A public performance in Berlin in 1887 brought him instant fame. He soon began a tour of the European centres of culture giving performances in Denmark, Finland, Russia and England. His first performance in New York was in 1886. He kept his home in Berlin until the start of the 1914 World War when he moved to Geneva. Here he gave lessons at the Geneva Conservatory. In 1917 he returned to Portugal and joined with his protégé, the composer Luís de Freitas Branco, to present concerts and recitals until his death in 1946.

Luís de Freitas Branco
Born in 1890 into a renowned musical family he rose quickly to fame with recognition from the respected Vianna de Mota. His compositions were initially by necessity classical. Later he wrote musical scores that educated and liberated his audience to enjoy romantic concerts. He is fondly remembered as the instrumental influence in the creation and development of modern music in Portugal. He died in 1955 leaving behind a large collection of compositions and many appreciated musical public performances in the memories of his audience.


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