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Luis de Freitas Branco (10/12/1890 - 11/27/1955)

Luís de Freitas Branco was born in Lisbon in 1890 where he lived most of the time until his death in 1955. He was a preeminent figure in Portuguese music of the first half of the twentieth century, and his four symphonies constitute the essence as well as the culmination of his musical development.

Born into an aristocratic family with ties to the royal family for many centuries, Luís de Freitas Branco enjoyed a highly sophisticated education, which included studies both in Berlin and then in Paris, where he worked with composers including Engelbert Humperdinck and Désiré Pâque. He started composing at a very early stage, as reflected in his Scherzo Fantastique, written in 1907 at the age of seventeen, one year before the homonymous work by Igor Stravinsky, which dates from 1908. He was active also as a leading force in the restructuring of musical education at the Lisbon Conservatory of Music, of which he became the deputy director under the leadership of José Vianna da Motta, a celebrated pianist who was one of Franz Liszt’s more distinguished students. Freitas Branco also played a significant rôle as a musicologist, having been active in research into the rich legacy of Portuguese polyphonic composers of the seventeenth century and publishing a book about the works of King John IV of Portugal, himself a distinguished composer and promoter of new music of his time.




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