Luiz de Freitas Branco

de Freitas Branco

Luiz de Freitas Branco (1890-1955) was a preeminent figure in Portuguese music of the first half of the twentieth century, and his four symphonies constitute the culmination of his musical development. Born into an aristocratic family with ties to the royal family for many centuries, he 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. 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. His musical development began with the influence of French late Romantic composers and some of the Impressionists such as Debussy. Yet, aware of the importance of introducing into Portuguese music large scale works such as symphonies for large orchestra, he clearly opted for a neo-classical style of his own, based on thematic development as he found it in the music of the "cyclic school" of the Belgian composer César Franck.