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Maritime procession and the Leper Hospital
Maritime procession in São Cristovão, Rio de Janeiro; at the background the Leper Hospital, eighteenth century 1.


Note: in the text below and in all the site, the abbreviation 'CPM' refers to the Thematic Catalogue of Nunes Garcia's Works, compiled by Mrs. Cleofe Person de Mattos.

The year 1783 marked the beginning of a partnership between the young musician, at age 15 or 16, with the chapel master and subchantre of the Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro, Canon João Lopes Ferreira. This partnership is documented by the antiphon "Tota pulchra es Maria" (CPM 1), dedicated to the Cathedral, Nunes Garcia´s first known composition. He was already aspiring to the priesthood. The ecclesiastical career, besides providing a stable income and the means to realize his artistic talent, gave immunity, in an age of absolutism and religious fanaticism, to the violence of the Holy Office, the arrogance of the powerful and the arbitrarinesses of compulsory recruitment, dangers to which the poor families of the Kingdom and the colonies of Portugal were always subject 2.

In 1784, at age 17, he signed the founding charter of the Brotherhood of St. Cecilia as a music teacher, along with the former teacher Salvador José de Almeida e Faria and the student Bonifácio Gonçalves. Under the invocation of the Patroness of Music, the Brotherhood was created to regulate the activity of a large class that included singers, instrumentalists, conductors, copyists, composers and teachers in a city in which music was part of the official ceremonies. The Brotherhood promoted admission examinations, imposed working guidelines, gains, duties and rights, and demanded "morality" of the fellow members. The commitment of the Brotherhood of St. Cecilia was confirmed by Queen Mary I in 1786 3.

According to the catalog of Joaquim José Maciel 4, at the end of the 1780s, Nunes Garcia was the author of the following repertoire: a "Litany of Our Lady" for four voices and organ, written in 1788; the hymns "O Redemptor Sume Carmen" and two "Pange Lingua", in 1789. In addition to these works, in the collection Gabriela Alves de Souza at the Alberto Nepomuceno Library of the UFRJ School of Music, manuscripts a capella for the entire Holy Week of the See, the "Bradados" or passions, were found. Of these, the most important is the collection of "Bradados da 6ª feira maior" (CPM 219), or the Passion of Good Friday, which comprises some motets that due to diffusion in musical collections, are now listed individually in the Thematic catalog: "Crux Fidelis" (CPM 205), "Heu Domine" (CPM 211); "Popule Meus" (CPM 222); "Sepulto Domino" (CPM 223); and "Vexilla Regis" (CPM 225). In some of the manuscripts is written in the year of composition: 1789. Fragments of other "Bradados" without date or authorship, but with the same handwriting and style, indicate compositions for the other days of Holy Week, such as "For Major Monday" (CPM 219b): the gradual "Exsurge Domine", the verse "Adjuvando nos Deus" and the motet "Domine Jesu" (CPM 208); "For Major Tuesday" (CPM 219c): the gradual "Ego Sum" and the offertory "Custodi me"; and "For Major Wednesday" (CPM 219d): the gradual and tract "Ne avertas" and the offertory "Domine exaudi".

In 1790, the young musician, at age 22, won notoriety in Rio de Janeiro with an instrumental work: the "Funeral Symphony" (CPM 230). It is not listed in the Maciel catalog, which indicates not to have been composed for the Cathedral. Other institutions therefore were already requesting his services 5.

Gazeta de Lisboa, 10 de maio de 1791
Gazette of Lisbon on May 10, 1791, record of the performance at Rio de Janeiro of a "Te Deum" by the "safe arrival" of the Viceroy Don Luís de Vasconcelos in Portugal.
First published news about the composer overseas 6.

1 JOAQUIM, Leandro. Maritime procession and the Leper Hospital. Oil. Museu Histórico Nacional, Rio de Janeiro. In MACEDO, Joaquim Manuel de. Um Passeio Pela Cidade do Rio de Janeiro [A City Tour of Rio de Janeiro]. Rio de Janeiro: Garnier, 1991. Photograph section, p. 40.

2 Manuel de Araújo Porto-Alegre eloquently describes the situation: "In those ages, individual security, the mainstay of poor families, and maternal love, had only a safe and inviolable haven in the church, and so, due to the religious spirit of the time, the families needed that one child at least supported them against the dark violence of the Holy Office, the revenge and fanaticism of their terrible relatives, the arrogance of the greatest landlords, and the cruelties of recruitment. The priest was the salvation anchor at home, the favorite man, the dearest son, the bond of harmony, the one who brought nobility to the family, and made it privileged and co-participant in all public pleasures, which were limited to the feasts of the church and to those home celebrations in accordance with the cult. At those times of fanaticism and monastic power, the religious garments had the prestige and the privilege of being respected since the viceroy room to the poorest housing: the cassock replaced the age, birth, wealth and knowledge". PORTO-ALEGRE, Manuel de Araújo. Apontamentos Sobre a Vida e a Obra do Padre José Maurício Nunes Garcia [Notes on the Life and Works of Father José Maurício Nunes Garcia]. In MURICY, José Cândido de Andrade et alii. Estudos Mauricianos. Rio de Janeiro: INM/FUNARTE/PRÓ-MEMUS, 1983. p. 24.

3 MATTOS, Cleofe Person de. José Maurício Nunes Garcia - Biografia [Biography]. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Fundação Biblioteca Nacional, 1997. p. 34. Noteworthy is the absence of chapel master João Lopes Ferreira among the signatories.

4 MACIEL, Joaquim José. Catalogo das musicas, archivadas na Capela Imperial, de composição do Padre Mestre José Maurício Nunes Garcia, organizado por ordem do Ill.mo e Rev.mo Monsenhor Inspector, pelo Arquivista Joaquim José Maciel. 9 de julho de 1887 [Catalog of Music, filed within the Imperial Chapel, the composition of the Father Master José Maurício Nunes Garcia, organized by order of the Illustrious and Reverend Monsignor Inspector, by the archivist Joaquim José Maciel. July 9, 1887]. Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro, Rio de Janeiro, lata 7, doc. 9.

5 Cleofe Person de Mattos suggested that it was intended to the Brotherhood of the Thirds of Mount Carmel, which lost that year 1790 an important brother. Reinforces this argument the fact that there are parts signed by José Batista Lisboa, who had been for a long time responsible for the music in this Brotherhood. MATTOS, op. cit., 1997. p. 218.

6 "In this same Capital of America it is also reported that, stating there be His Excellency Luiz de Vasconcellos e Souza fortunately arrived at the Court, excited this welcome news in all the residents such a lively and nostalgic recall of the government of this Fidalgo, that, unable to do it elsewhere, decided to give thanks to Heaven in the Church of Our Lady of Childbirth (in behalf of whom, and its hospital, practiced his Excellency many pious actions) made by the Brotherhood of Saint Cecilia, to sing a Te Deum, whose new music was composed by José Maurício Nunes Garcia, and performed by a full orchestra. His Excellency the successor Viceroy, His Excellency the Bishop, the Nobility, the Ministers, the Military, and the Trade Body attended this action of gratitude, which caused general devotion and joy, being it a new and well deserved monument of memory which will retain that Capital of a Viceroy so distinguished in his government". Lisbon Gazette, May 10, 1791.

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