Portugal Music and Dance

By | September 2, 2021


Little evidence remains of Portuguese medieval music and the flourishing of a polyphonic tradition influenced by the French and Italian Ars nova. In the sec. According to printerhall, the relations with the Franco-Flemish school were of fundamental importance, while a typically local tradition, similar to the Spanish one, with the characteristic shape of the Villancico developed in Portugal as well.: this affinity is testified by the coexistence in the same songbooks of both Spanish and Portuguese music and lyrics. Among the major Portuguese authors of the sec. XVI-XVII participants of the European polyphonic civilization were Damião de Gões (1501-53) and Manuel Cardoso (d. 1595), then Manuel Mendes (d. 1605), Duarte Lobo (ca. 1565-1643), Frei Manuel Cardoso (1569 -1650), Felipe de Magalhães (17th century), João Lourenço Rebello (1610-61), Diego de Melgaço (1638-1700) and King John IV (1604-56). In the sec. XVII also flourished instrumental music, especially for keyboard instruments, with Manuel Coelho (b. 1583) and a few others. The major exponents of the Portuguese harpsichord school, however, belong to the century. XVIII and undergo an Italian influence: the most significant, Carlos de Seixas (1709-42), knew D. Scarlatti, while others, such as Sousa Carvalho (1709-98) studied in Italy. The Italian influence was even more evident in the opera and vocal music of the eighteenth century, which in the second half of the century conquered a clear prevalence in Portuguese musical life compared to instrumental music: in addition to the aforementioned Carvalho, Francisco de Almeida and Marcos Portugal (1762-1830), the greatest Portuguese opera composer. João Domingos Bontempo (1775-1842) dedicated himself to symphony, but instrumental music in general experienced a new development in the second half of the nineteenth century, dominated by German and French influences, from Wagner and Liszt to D’Indy and Franck, which came to merge with the search for a national character in José Viana de Mota (1868-1948), while Luis Freitas Branco (1890-1955) also looked to impressionism. The production of Ruy Coelho (1892-1955), Federico Freitas (1902-79) and Fernando Lopes Graça (1906-94), who was also an authoritative music scholar, is also marked by an eclecticism with more or less accentuated national colors. popular. From a later generation are FF Pires, F. de Sousa, A. Cassuto, AJ Santiago, E. Nunes, HJ Pires, who have achieved international fame.

Portugal Music


Beyond the popular tradition, very lively and widespread throughout the country, theatrical dance in Portugal has had its own development – similar to that of other European traditions – almost exclusively limited to court life and the theaters of the capital, Lisbon. In the sec. XV and XVI the Portuguese aristocracy was passionate about the festive entertainments enriched with danced interludes, set up on the model of the Italian and French ones. Gil Vicente added a dramaturgical dimension to these entertainments, thus giving life to a genre similar to the ballet de cour, which, however, was soon overwhelmed by the pressure of political events and, between the end of the century. XVI and the first half of the XVII in particular, from the advent of the Spanish domination. The first half of the century XVIII and the reign of John V marked a certain revival of the dance activity, still predominantly influenced, however, by the French and Italian style. In 1793 the Teatro Real de Sao Carlos was inaugurated with two ballets by Gaetano Gioia, The Lusitanian happiness and I spetti amorosi, first examples of a genre, the allegorical one, which the Portuguese public became enormously passionate about preferring it by far to novelties such as Giselle, performed in Lisbon (1843, protagonist A. Maywood) on the wave of the rampant romantic taste that triumphed in the rest of Europe. The romantic ballet then had modest success, despite the presence at the direction of the ball in the capital, of characters such as A. Saint-Léon and C. Blasis. Djagilev toohe was not well received when in 1917 he was surprised in Lisbon by the outbreak of the First World War and decided to stay there until the war was over. After the war, dance and ballet slowly regained their place in the cultural life of the country: in 1940 a professional company, Verde Gaio, of folkloric inspiration was founded, which, however, also made some fruitful forays into repertoire of classical and contemporary ballet. In 1965 the Gulbenkian Ballet or Grupo Gulbenkian de Bailado began to operate, an expression of the homonymous foundation commissioned by the patron Caluste Gulbenkian. This latter company, largely influenced by the British classical-modern tradition, has contributed significantly to reintroducing Portuguese theatrical dance to the J. Butler, BR Cullberg, L. Lubovich, P. Sanasardo, H. van Manen. New research groups have emerged in recent years, influenced by the American and European avant-gardes, and schools and study centers have also sprung up outside the capital.