FERNANDO LOPES GRAÇA LOOK HERE
Born in Tomar on the 17th December 1906, at the age of 14 Fernando Lopes Graça starts working as a pianist in the Cine-Teatro of Tomar, making his own ‘arrangements’ to the musical pieces he used to play, such as works by Debussy and some contemporary Russian composers.
In 1923, he attends the Curso Superior do Conservatório of Lisbon, having as teachers: Adriano Meira (Superior Piano Course), Tomás Borba (Composition) and Luís de Freitas Branco (Musical Science); in 1927, he attends a class for Virtuosi whose teacher was the greatest Portuguese pianist of all times Mestre Vianna da Motta (a former Liszt student).
In 1928 he would also attend the Course of Historical and Philosophical Science in the University of Lisbon, but he ends up by abandoning it in 1931, as a protest against the repression on students during an academic strike.
In 1932, the day he, with the highest marks, finished the examinations to become a teacher of solfeggio and piano in the National Conservatory, he is arrested by the political police, is sent to jail and finally moved to Alpiarça.
In 1934 he applies for a scholarship in the music area, in Paris. He wins the contest but the decision of the jury is annulled by order of the political police. In September 1935 he is arrested one more time, and sent to the Forte of Caxias, the prison where political dissidents were kept.
He is liberated in 1937 and goes to Paris, where he studies Composition and Orchestration with Koechlin.
He returns to Portugal in 1939, after having refused the French nationality.
In 1945 he becomes a member of the MUD (Movement of Democratic Unity) creating the Choir of the Grupo Dramático Lisbonense, later the Coro da Academia dos Amadores de Música.
His ‘Portuguese Regional Songs’ and ‘Heroic Songs’ are sung by the choir all over the country.
At that period he becomes a member of the Portuguese Communist Party. The repression by the fascist regime grows and becomes more evident.
In the fifties, national orchestras are forbidden to play works by Fernando Lopes Graça, his copyrights as an author are denied to him and his teaching certificate is annulled.
He is the author of a vast literary work with reflexions on Portuguese and contemporary music, but the most important is his musical heritage, with concerts for piano and orchestra, numerous choral pieces of national folkloric inspiration, his ‘Requiem for the Victims of Fascism’ (1979), a cello concert ordered and played for the first time by Rostropovich and his vast number of piano pieces, namely his six sonatas, a reference point in the history of the Portuguese piano music of the 20th century.
On 9th April 1981 he was awarded the Military Order of Santiago and on the 2nd February 1987 he received the (Grã-Cruz) the Great Cross of the Order of The Infant D. Henrique.
Fernando Lopes Graça died in Cascais, on the 27th November 1994 and is considered one of the greatest Portuguese maestros and composers of the 20th century.