The Rio de Janeiro palace square in 1808, year of Portuguese Royal Family´s arrival in Brazil.
At right, the Royal Chapel (today the Church of Our Lady of the Thirds of Mount Carmel). 1
An ear made of wood presupposes a heart made of stone
Considered one of the great composers of the Americas, Father José Maurício Nunes Garcia (1767-1830) was the author of a repertoire that stands, in quantity and quality, with those of the good European composers of his time.
Manuel de Araújo Porto-Alegre, the early biographer and admirer who nicknamed him "the Brazilian Mozart" predicted the notoriety for his compositions, both in Brazil and in Europe 3. However, in the absence of a systematic effort to publish them, after two centuries, most of them remains unknown even to the Brazilian public, which does not do justice to the great composer who produced them.
Although concisely, this website tries to supply the deficiency of information, and is divided into four sections: Life, Works, Discography and References.
A biography of the composer is still controversial. Although the main facts of his life are established, his biographers, from earliest to latest, have not avoided the hagiographies, sometimes describing him as a national hero, sometimes as a martyr who has succeeded despite the hardships in his personal life.
Although a biography, as well as any historical account, is always a version of events, and additions, omissions or exaggerations are almost inevitable, we present in the Life section, a "realistic" biography of the composer, by taking into account all the existing documentation , and discoveries made by the project account Digitalização do Acervo Musical do Cabido Metropolitano do Rio de Janeiro in 2005. The text differs in many points from previous biographies, and we take all the responsibility for it.
The Works Section has some of his compositions, with scores in PDF format, and software generated sound files in MP3 format. These editions are based, as far as possible, in autograph scores or parts or handwritten copies of the time. We work so that in the near future, all preserved Mauritian compositions will be presented in this section. It follows the classification established by Cleofe Person de Mattos, in the Thematic Catalogue of the Works of Father José Maurício Nunes Garcia, published by the Federal Council of Culture in 1970. It comprises 237 compositions authored, 11 of disputed authorship, and 172 titles of lost compositions, but of which there are historical references. Besides, to the extent possible, we look to include the compositions discovered after 1970.
The Discography section has a list of CDs that contain at least one track with compositions of Nunes Garcia.
And finally, the References section brings mentions to biographies, scores already published, and textbooks on Brazilian music that refers to Nunes Garcia and other related publications.
1 BATES, Richard. Rio de Janeiro, the Palace Square. Watercolor. Cornell University Library, USA. In FERREZ, Gilberto. A Praça XV de Novembro Antigo Largo do Carmo. Rio de Janeiro: Riotur, 1978. Cover.
2 Variety / The language of music / (Supplement). in Jornal do Commercio, n. 1. Rio de Janeiro: Jan 3-16, 1840. p.18.
3 "Divine genius! Although death has halted your brilliant career, paralyzing at once your wise hands and your sublime mystical insights, you will be immortal! Thy works, now scattered in society, will resuscitate you daily until the time that Europe and the whole universe will applaud you". PORTO-ALEGRE, Manuel de Araújo. In DEBRET, Jean-Baptiste. Viagem Pitoresca e Histórica ao Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Itatiaia, 1992. v. 3, p. 107.