►Introducing three portuguese composers

This time I’d like to introduce to you three of the most interesting portuguese composers of the beginning of the twentieth century.

Francisco de Lacerda

He was born in 1869 in a small village on São Jorge Island, Azores. He had his first music lessons with his father. When he moved to continental Portugal, for a  brief time he started to study medicine but then abandoned the idea and went to Lisbon, to study piano and composition at the Conservatório Nacional with José Vieira, Freitas Gazul and Frederico Guimarães.

In 1891 he started his career as piano teacher at the same institute, but four years later he left for Paris where he stayed for a few years. He studied at the Conservatoire National with Émile Pessard, Louis-Albert Bourgault-Ducoudray, Charles-Marie Widor and Henri Libert, continuing his studies in 1897 at the famous Schola Cantorum with Vincent d’Indy and Alexandre Guilmant.

In these years he had contact with many important people, among others Claude Debussy, which for sure also helped to amplify his interest for symbolistic music, as which can be classified a significant part of his compositions.

He became interested in orchestral direction, starting his career as maestro of the orchestra of the Casino de La Baule.

Four years later he became maestro of the orchestra of Montreux, having also initiated the orchestra of Nantes and directed the orchestra of Marseilles. He often insisted on directing interesting, very new or little known works and composers.

In 1913 he returns to Azores, and 1921 he moved to Lisbon again, where he focused on composing but also direction, funding the Filarmonia de Lisboa, an orchestra that had great ambitions but didn’t last, although it might have had a brilliant success with him as their leader if there only had been more financial support.

Frustrated with the whole situation, he left his country again, continuing his compositions but also to direct orchestras of Marseille, Nantes, Paris and Toulouse.

In 1928 he had to suspend his career due to his deteriorating health, returning to Lisbon, where he dies in 1934, not being able to finish all his interesting projects.

Indeed, many of his works were meant to have several movements but only the first was concluded.

Among his greatest compositions are the following:


  • Épitaphe
  • Amourol
  • Pantomima
  • Dans le Clair de Lune

Voice and orchestra

  • Trovas (inspired in traditional music from Azores)


  • Trente-Six Histoires pour amuser les Enfants d’un Artiste (symbolistic influencies)


  • Serenata a una Muerta

As always, here are some great videos of some of his works so you can hear by yourself:





Dans le clair de lune


Tenho tantas saudades (from Trovas)

I don’t really like the singer in the last video, but well, can’t find anything better on youtube…


Luís de Freitas Branco

Born in 1890 in Lisbon, Luís’ musical talent was noticed early by his family and he started to have lessons with Augusto Machado and Tomás Borba.

At the age of 15 he already had published two compositions and continued his studies with Désiré Pâque, a belgian musician who also initiates him in the theories of Vincent d’Indy. He received lessons in instrumentation from Luigi Mancinelli and continued to improve his piano playing and also the violin.

In 1908 he won the first prize of the Concurso de Música Portuguesa and at the time he already had composed several symphonic poems. Two years later he traveled to Berlin with his uncle, where he had some lessons with Humperdinck, but they don’t really satisfied him, so he continued to work with Pâque, who had moved to Berlin.

He returned to Portugal but only for one year, when he traveled again, this time to Paris, where he was introduced to Claude Debussy and received lessons in symbolistic aesthetics from Gabriel Grovlez, which certainly served as inspiration for several of Luís’ compositions, before turning into a neo-classical direction upon creation of his symphonies.

After his marriage with D. Stella de Ávila e Sousa, the whole family moved temporarily to Madeira island and he continued to compose actively.

Two years after returning to continental Portugal, in 1916, he started his teaching career at the Conservatório Nacional, eventually becoming sub-director and initiating a reformation of it, together with its director, Viana da Mota.

In 1924 he left the position of sub-director, because it didn’t leave him enough time for his compositions. He published some books about music and got several important positions at institutions related to music, but in 1939 he was suspended from all his teaching jobs due to a (unfunded) suspection by authorities of Salazar’s fascist regime.

He continued an intense activity as a composer until his death in 1955.

Some of his greatest works:


  • Paraísos Artificiais (first contact with symbolism)
  • Vathek (can be classified as avantgarde composition)
  • Viriato
  • 2 Suites Alentejana
  • 4 Symphonies
  • Concerto for violin and orchestra
  • Canto do Mar for soprano or tenor and orchestra

Chamber ensembles

  • 2 Sonatas for violino and piano
  • String quartet
  • Sonata for violoncello and piano
  • Theme and variations for 3 harps and string quartet


  • Mirages
  • 10 Préludes to Viana da Mota (symbolistic influences)
  • 4 Préludes to Isabel Manso
  • Arabesques

He also composed many works for voice and piano, especially inspired on poets and portuguese traditions, although he was much less inclined in that direction than Francisco de Lacerda.

His extense catalog of works also includes compositions for organ, sacred music, choir, aswell as soundtracks for cinema and theatre.

Listening suggestions:

Vathek (part 3 of 3)


Sonata for violoncello and piano, 1st movement


Paraísos Artificiais


Prélude III


Symphony no. 1, 1st movement


António Fragoso

He was born 1897 in Cantanhede, Portugal.

At the age of 8 he had his first piano lessons with his uncle and later with Ernesto Maia.

At the age of 16 he published his first composition, receiving overwhelming support by the audience and critics and one year later he was admitted at the Conservatório Nacional, studying harmony and piano with Marcos Garín, Tomás Borba e Luís de Freitas Branco, concluding the class of piano with disctinction and the highest grades possible.

Unfortunately, in the same year of 1918 he was one more victim of the terrible pneumonic flu epidemy, dying at the age of 21.

He still left about hundred compositions and there have been made several hommages at an international level in recognition of the quality of his work.

Some of his works:


  • Nocturno


  • Préludes


  • Lieder

There’s not much on youtube, but these are very nice recordings:

Prélude from Petite Suite


Prélude IV


Nocturno (piano reduction)


And with these beatiful compositions I conclude one more “episode” about great but not very well known composers. Suggestions for names about whom I could write the next episode are always welcome.

►And I thought I knew his music…

I always thought I knew the music of Sting reasonably well, not as well as in the case of a dedicated fan, but fair enough.

You know, all those classics of his? Every Breath You Take, Roxanne, Message in a Bottle, Don’t Stand so Close to Me, Englishman in New York, etc? Have heard them many times and like them quite a lot.

But today I found out I didn’t know it well enough. When I finished a home assignment for ear training or whatever you’d like to call it. I had to write down the notes of a song of his that I never heard before but that’s absolutely fantastic:

Moon over Bourbon Street

It’s about a werewolf, more precisely inspired in the book of Anne Rice “The vampire Lestat”. It’s very mysterious, sad, dark and the composition and musical arrangement is absolutely brilliant, hear by yourself:

Lyrics here.


►Strange instruments, reloaded

I swear it’s not my fault 😉 that I had to do a follow-up to the first post, no, it’s all the “fault” of Facebook and a friend and follower of this blog (Luis HenriquesAtrium Musicologicum) who happens to have interesting acquaintances who seem to have even more interesting connections. So, he commented on a photo showing something I’d never seen before:

The Ophicleide

It’s another historic brass instrument, invented in 1817, played in the nineteenth century until it was basically made redundant by the Euphonium and the Tuba.

Its name means something like “serpent with keys”, remembering a renaissance instrument called “the Serpent”.

It wasn’t produced anymore and disappeared, today it’s only found as a museum piece, except for one, which is being played, with great virtuosism and musicality by Nick Byrne, who even has a CD recorded with music on Ophicleide and runs a website, which probably is the best ressource about the instrument available: here is the link.

Oh yes, this one does sound very nice indeed, don’t worry, it’s not like the sarrusophone, here’s an example of Nick’s recordings:

Preview of Oblivion – Astor Piazzolla (played by Nick Byrne on Ophicleide)

( it actually sounds REALLY great… hope I manage to become famous one day (lol), so I could write a song for it and invite him to record for my project… Sigh…. Guess I have to stop day-dreaming and get back to reality. Yes, definitely. )

►The Alternative Music Lounge: Revolution Void

In the first post of this series I’d like to introduce to you a project that describes it’s music style as “nu-jazz, electro-jazz or electronic breakbeat jazz” and their name is:

Revolution Void

Having been founded by producer and jazz pianist Jonah Dempcy, their recordings also feature a number of guest musicians including among others Seamus Blake, Matthew Garrison and Lucas Pickford .

Combining electronic music with live improvisation, Jonah considers his main jazz influences to be John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley, as well as contemporary artists such as Kurt Rosenwinkel and Brad Mehldau.

Six years ago, Jonah began releasing music online through the Creative Commons, beginning with the album Increase the Dosage. Since then, Revolution Void has been an active member of the online music-sharing renaissance, regularly releasing albums and singles in their entirety for free online.

That’s how I got to know them, actually, found their album available for download on a torrent site that only includes LEGAL downloads.

I immediately liked their music, right from the first listen, every single track of the album.

What I especially admire is the quality of sound, improvisation, production and the diversity and creativity of each track.

I also love the different rhythms and beats they used, while still managing to mantain some connection throughout the whole album.

So, as I suppose you’re almost at the point saying “stop talking, I want to LISTEN!”, here goes a widget with some of their tracks:


And to finish up this post, here’s the link to their website .


About this series:

One of the ideas I have for this blog is to start periodic post series about a few interesting topics. Like one post a week or a month, about the same topic but always bringing you new (or classic but little known) musical discoveries.
This series that I gave the name “The Alternative Music Lounge” is about presenting you bands and projects that I like a lot or respect much because of the quality of their music although they haven’t made it into the so called “main stream” and therefore probably will remain unknown for many people.
Whatever might be the reasons for this (sometimes their creations are just too good, too unique, lacking any “commercial characteristics”, othertimes it’s just another case of being disregarded by the music industry, we all know what’s usual to happen…), I think the’re more people out there who might like their music but just didn’t have a chance to discover it yet, so I hope these publications of mine might be helpful.
By the way, if you’re a musician and think I might like your music and would like to propose your creations for being featured in a post of this series, you’re welcome to comment this post or any other future post of this series, stating your project’s name, a link to where I can listen to some tracks and a way to contact you.
I promise to try and listen to everyone’s tracks and respond, even if I happen to not accept the proposal.

►Brazilian composers

Went to a concert tonight, called “Brazilian Piano”.

Two brazilian pianists (Bernadete Castelan Póvoas and Mauren Frey – here is the link to the program of the concert) I’d never seen before around here giving a nice performance, I enjoyed a good part of the concert and what was especially interesting for me was to get to know a little about quite a few brazilian composers I’d never heard of in my “ignorance” :P…

So I thought I’d dig out a little bit more music from them and share it with you…

Osvaldo Lacerda

Link to his biography.

Two examples I liked on youtube (the pieces I heard was impossible to find decent recordings – “Aboio” and “Terno de Zabumba”. If anyone knows one, please share.):



“Pequena Suite I”


Ronaldo Miranda

Link to his biography (he has a site of his own, nice).

Two examples (the first is one of the pieces I heard today, the other one I might well consider learning one day on guitar, sounds great… but suppose it’s quite hard to play…):





Sérgio Vasconcellos-Corrêa

Link to his biography.

And again, two examples (the first is the piece I heard tonight, although it was on 4 hands piano, while here I found it for orquestra, sounds really great…)

“Baião (from the Suite Piratiningana)”


“Variações sobre um tema ‘Cana-fita’ ” (the composer himself playing)


And well, that’s all for today, folks.

No, wait, I have one more, here is Heitor Villa-Lobos‘ “Impressões Seresteiras” that I also heard tonight, just for you to enjoy listening, this is so beautiful 🙂


►Feeling nostalgic: songs I haven’t heard for some time

Some days ago, on a Friday evening when I was driving home from work, once again, 250 km like every week, listening to the radio, feeling tired and far away in my mind, suddenly a song was played that got my attention, because I hadn’t heard it for some time… so I thought I’d do a little post here with a few songs I’ve always liked but are rarely transmitted on radio or other means.

Not all are what you would call a classic, in fact one ist quite recent. But they all share one thing: although they managed to be successful to some extent, they never got into those mysterious “standard-playlists” that appear to be almost the same everywhere and nobody really knows why, although everybody suspects the same. You know what I mean.

It’s not that these were “underground” or whatever, they just had something “too much unique” (so there would be people actually disliking them, which generally is a good sign, because people SHOULD have different tastes, something that seems to have gotten into decline over the last decades, but let’s not talk about that now) or didn’t have enough commercial feel (would really love to find out one day how those “program people” up there in radios and magazines, online-review-sites and record companies editing “best-of-some-year-genre-or-what-have-you-compilations” get to the conclusion that a certain song is an all-time classic or should be classified as “one-time-hit” and therefore remain in the disc-archive starting to accumulate a thick layer of dust…

Nostalgic Listening Suggestion no. 1:

Bran Van 3000 – Drinking in LA


(maybe it’s the band name that wasn’t convincing? But then again, how on earth could someone calling herself “Lady Gaga” be successful? Doesn’t “gaga” mean something like “crazy”, useless yadda-yadda, or even, according to TheFreeDictionary, somebody who isn’t in possession of his complete mental capacities anymore?)


Nostalgic Track no. 2:

Youssou N’Dour ft. Neneh Cherry – 7 Seconds


(let’s see… this song was number one in many countries’ charts and was played on “Live8”, but in these days on most radio stations I happen to listen to, it plays maybe once a year? Maybe here the “problem” is the song being to “polemic”, talking about racism?)


Not-really-nostalgic-at-all Listening Suggestion no. 3:

Hercules And Love Affair – Blind


(you’re going to say: “hey! Wait! This song is from 2008!” and I have to admit you’re right. But wait, the point I’m trying to make is this: their song disappeared pretty quickly from radio play, at least in this country and until that last friday I had never heard it again, despite it being a great track (at least in my humble opinion). They just published their second album, but I somehow don’t think they will be chosen for those “infamous” playlists. They are just too “different”, not mainstream enough. Read this interview and you know what I’m talking about.)

So, to finish this post (going too long already lol): maybe it’s all in my head. But what I see around me, everywhere, regarding music business, is a total degradation of the relation between quality, originality, artistic value or musicality and the level of success that’s reached. In most cases, they get more success with totally pointless videos containing almost pornographic scenarios than with music. Real music.

But then maybe that’s not new and it has always been like this, only changing style, outfits and (stupid) names?