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The church of the See
The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, where the Cathedral was installed in mid-eighteenth century 1.


On September 22, 1767, in a modest house in Rua da Vala, Rio de Janeiro, a boy was born to a couple of free mulattos, Victoria Maria da Cruz and the tailor Apolinário Nunes Garcia 2.

Victoria was daughter of Joana Gonçalves, a slave of Simão Barbosa Gonçalves 3. She was born in Cachoeira do Campo, parish of São Gonçalo do Monte, in the province of Minas Gerais, and was baptized in 1739. At age 10, she traveled along with her mother's lord to Rio de Janeiro. Apolinário was son of Ana Correa do Desterro, also slave. Born in Campos dos Goytacazes, a city northeast of Rio de Janeiro 4, he was baptized in 1743, in the Church of Our Lady of the Perpetual Help, on Ilha do Governador, nowadays a neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. Victoria and Apolinario were married in 1762, in the church of Saint Rita, downtown Rio de Janeiro. He was single and she was already widow of Lieutenant Raimundo Pereira de Abreu. Their marriage certificate states they were children of "incognito father", an indication that they may have been children of their mothers' lords.

The boy, who was born on the day of St. Maurice, was baptized José Maurício Nunes Garcia, on December 20, 1767, at the Cathedral of the city, the present church of Our Lady of the Rosary.

About the childhood and youth of Nunes Garcia there is little documented information; are his first biographers and contemporaries, Januário da Cunha Barbosa 5 and Manuel de Araújo Porto-Alegre 6, who despite the laudatory character of their narratives, provide some facts on his education and evidence of the formation of the composer´s character.

According to Porto-Alegre, the boy "since early childhood" had "beautiful voice and sang admirably", a "prodigious memory [...] to reproduce faithfully all what he heard", and "improvised melodies and played the viola and harpsichord without ever having learned to" 7.

According to both biographers, an aunt, whose name is unknown, sister of Victoria Maria, lived with the family. Mother and aunt raised the boy after the death of Apolinário, in 1773, and when they noticed his precocious musical talent, they forwarded him to the music class of Salvador José de Almeida e Faria, a dsitinguished music teacher at that time 8. To complete his education, he attended the "Regal Classes" taking lessons in History, Geography, French, Italian, Latin Grammar with Father Elias, Rational and Moral Philosophy with Dr. Goulão 9, and as an adult, of Rhetoric with Manuel Inacio da Silva Alvarenga 10. He would also have had lessons in English and Greek languages, but without good scores.

The two biographers are also unanimous in praising the youngster´s fast learning of Latin Grammar and Rational and Moral Philosophy, stating that both teachers pointed him able to replace them in their classes, and Goulão made the invitation effective, but Nunes Garcia refused. The reason for the refusal was that since he was twelve he helped in the household expenses with which he received as a music teacher, according to the testimony of his pupil Bonifácio Gonçalves 11.

The Church of Saint Rita
(To obtain a description of some places, move the mouse over the figure)
The church of Saint Rita, downtown Rio de Janeiro, where Nunes Garcia's parents got married 12.

1 ENDER, Thomas. Viagem pelo Brasil nas Aquarelas de Thomas Ender [A Trip to Brazil in Thomas Ender's Watercolors]. Presented by Robert Wagner and Júlio Bandeira. Petrópolis: Kappa, 2000. v. 2, p. 433.

2 According to Dr. José Maurício Nunes Garcia Jr., grandson of Apolinário, his grandfather's job was field master, indicating a military past before becoming tailor. GARCIA Jr., José Maurício. Apontamentos Biográficos [Biographical Notes] / José Maurício Nunes Garcia Jr. / (com notas de [with notes of] FRANCISCO CURT LANGE). In MURICY, José Cândido de Andrade et alii. Estudos Mauricianos. Rio de Janeiro: INM/FUNARTE/PRÓ-MEMUS, 1983. p. 15.

3 Musicologist Francisco Curt Lange found the alleged baptism record of Vitória Maria da Cruz and published it in Barroco magazine, Belo Horizonte: Imprensa Universitária da UFMG, 1981, n. 11, pp. 91-94. Although authentic, it records the baptism of another child with the same name. The autenticity was contested by Cleofe Person de Mattos, in MATTOS, Cleofe Person de. José Maurício Nunes Garcia - Biografia. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Fundação Biblioteca Nacional, 1997, p. 205.

4 GARCIA Jr., op. cit., 1983. p. 15.

5 Januário da Cunha Barbosa (Rio de Janeiro, Aug. 10, 1780 - Feb. 22, 1846) [...] was regal preacher of the Royal Chapel, professor of philosophy and founder of the Brazilian Historical [and Geographical] Institute (1838). Tribune speaker, he became involved in the movement for the Brazilian independence, was arrested in 1822 and exiled for political reasons. He returned to Brazil in 1823, achieving compensations, such as the direction of the National Library and several medals. MATTOS, op. cit., 1997. p. 213.

6 Manuel de Araújo Porto-Alegre - baron of Santo Ângelo - (Rio Pardo (RS) 21.11.1806 - Lisbon 29.12.1879) [...] Man of culture, speaker at the Historical Institute, laureate painter - student of Debret - professor and director of the School of Fine Arts, a member of international organizations and consul of Brazil in Berlin and Lisbon, where he died. He was awarded the medals of the Order of the Rose and the Order of Christ. MATTOS, op. cit., 1997. p. 213.

7 PORTO-ALEGRE, Manuel de Araújo. Apontamentos Sobre a Vida e as Obras do Padre José Maurício Nunes Garcia [Notes on the Life and Works of Father José Maurício Nunes Garcia]. In MURICY, op. cit., 1983, p. 23.

8 Music teacher, manufacturer of musical instruments. Born in 1732 in Cachoeira do Campo, Minas Gerais, he died in Rio de Janeiro on April 12, 1799. He had a marital life with Felicia de Almeida e Faria, with whom he had two children: Augusto de Almeida Procopio and Clementina Calista Ermuta de Almeida. Depending on the master´s birthplace, much has been written about the influence of the music style of Minas Gerais in Nunes Garcia. The publication of Faria´s inventory by Nireu Cavalcanti in 2004 (until it disappears, the original was in the National Archives, packet 313, n. 5614) weakens this thesis, since it contains mostly European compositions, and no one written by a mineiro. CAVALCANTI, Nireu. O Rio de Janeiro Setecentista: a Vida e a Construção da Cidade da Invasão Francesa até a Chegada da Corte [Rio de Janeiro in Eighteenth Century: the Life and the Construction of the City from the French Invasion to the Court Arrival]. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor, 2004. p. 415.

9 Agostinho Corrêa da Silva Goulão, graduated at the University of Coimbra, he arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1789. He held the chair of Rational and Moral Philosophy (Perereca, p. 774). In September 1822 he was elected Constituent of the province of Rio de Janeiro. MATTOS, op. cit., 1997. p. 215.

10 Manuel Inacio da Silva Alvarenga (Vila Rica, 1749 - Rio de Janeiro, 1814), one of the main Brazilian Arcadian poets, studied mathematics and canon law at the University of Coimbra in Portugal, between 1773 and 1776. Back in Brazil, he took part in the Roman Arcadia at Villa Rica, under the pseudonym Alcindo Palmireno. In the 1780s he was professor of Rhetoric and Poetics in Rio de Janeiro. In 1786, he was founder and secretary of the Literary Society, which led him to prison between 1794 and 1797, accused of conspiracy against the government; he was released for clemence of Queen Mary I. In 1813-14 he contributed to O Patriota, the first printed culture magazine in Brazil. His published books were: O Desertor (1774), O Templo de Netuno (1777), A Gruta Americana (1779), Às Artes (1778), and the most famous, Glaura (1799). Poesia Ibero-Americana. Access: Feb. 15, 2015.

11 The student witness in the da genere process, to have had music lessons from the composer for twelve years. Nunes Garcia was 24 years old at the time. MATTOS, op. cit., 1997. p. 40.

12 HILDEBRANDT, Eduard. O Brasil de Eduard Hildebrandt [Eduard Hildebrandt's Brazil]. Presented by Gilberto Ferrez. Rio de Janeiro: Record, 1991. p. 41.

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