Born in Alcácer do Sal, Portugal, in 1889, Ruy Coelho studied piano with Alexandre Rey Colaço. While in Berlin, he studied composition with Engelbert Humperdinck and Arnold Schoenberg, and conducting with Max Bruch. In 1924, in Spain, he was awarded a Prize for his opera Belkiss. In 1934 he founded the Opera National Action (Acção Nacional de Ópera). In 1940 his opera D. João IV celebrated the reopening of the São Carlos Theatre. Throughout his life he developed numerous controversies with fellow composers, namely with Luiz de Freitas Branco and Fernando Lopes-Graça, while maintaining a close relationship with some influential figures of Estado Novo, the Portuguese dictatorship. Coelho's output includes more than twenty stage works, several symphonies and symphonic poems, ballet music and two concertos for piano.