Nepomuceno, Alberto, 1864-1920

Alternative names
Birth 1864-07-06
Death 1920-10-16

Biographical notes:

Based on Brazilian Negro themes, including the dance "batuque." Composed 1892. Original title: Serie brasileira.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Suite brasileira / Alberto Nepomuceno. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 53088029

Composer Alberto Nepomuceno was born on July 6, 1864, in Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil. He received his early musical education in Brazil from his father, a church organist. His later musical studies were in European conservatories, and he became acquainted with major composers of the twentieth century, among them Debussy, Saint-Saëns, D'Indy, and Richard Strauss. In addition, his marriage to the Norwegian pianist Walborg Rendtler Bang allowed him to establish a personal friendship with Edward Grieg. Parallel to his career in composition and conducting, Nepomuceno's passion as a teacher was to give his country a better and more advanced musical curricula. Thanks to his work for the recognition of Brazilian nationalism and encouragement of young and new composers, he was able, just one year before his death, to conduct and introduce to the public Heitor Villa-Lobos's work. From his stage works to his piano pieces Nepomuceno's eclecticism is the common attribute of his whole output, from a conventional romantic trend passing through transitional styles to the fiery rhythms of the Afro-Brazilian dances. On Oct. 16, 1920, Nepomuceno died in Rio de Janeiro.

From the description of Alberto Nepomuceno collection, 1887-1920 (bulk 1894-1920). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 61675803

From an unfinished comic opera. First performance Rio de Janeiro, 26 October 1904, Artur Napoleão conductor.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of O garatuja : prelúdio / A. Nepomuceno. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 53088021

Biographical Sketch

  • 1864: On July 6 Alberto Nepomuceno was born in Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil to Victor Augusto Nepomuceno (1840-1880), violinist and organist of the Fortaleza's Cathedral, and his wife Maria Virginia de Oliveira Paiva (1846-1892).
  • 1872: His family moved to Recife (Pernambuco). He began his musical studies (piano and violin) with his father.
  • 1880: After his father's death, he started to work in a typographical shop to help his mother and sister Emilia. He began studies in harmony with Maestro Euclides Fonseca.
  • 1881: Professor Tobias Barreto coached him in his studies of philosophy and German.
  • 1883: He played violin in the orchestra of the Santa Isabel Opera House at the premiere of Leonor, an opera composed by his teacher Euclides Fonseca. He actively joined the civic republican and abolitionist movement of the northeast Brazilian region.
  • 1885: The Legislative Assembly of Ceará presented a petition to the Imperial Government to re-activate Nepomuceno's scholarship to study in Europe that was initially rescinded due to his political activities. He settled in Rio de Janeiro and for the first time gave a piano concert at the Club Beethoven. Also, he toured the country with cellist Frederico Nascimento.
  • 1886: He became a piano teacher at the Club Beethoven and studied harmony with Miguel Cardozo.
  • 1887: He composed his first compositions for piano, some songs, and a march for orchestra.
  • 1888: In May at The Club Iracema (Fortaleza) he premiered his first major composition Dança de negros which later became his Batuque for orchestra. In August, he traveled to Europe.
  • 1889: Nepomuceno enrolled at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome and began his studies with Eugenio Terziani (harmony), Giovanni Sgambatti (piano), and Cesare de Sanctis.
  • 1890: In August he left Rome and enrolled at the Akademische Meister Schulle in Berlin where he began his composition studies with Heinrich von Herzogenberg (1843-1900), a distinguished friend of Brahms.
  • 1891: During his vacation, he travelled to Vienna and heard concerts by Brahms and Hans von Bülow. He also attended classes with Theodor Lechetitzky and met the Norwegian pianist Walborg Rendtler Bang, a pupil of Grieg, and Nepomuceno's future wife.
  • 1892: He transferred to Berlin's Stern Conservatory to study composition and organ with Arnó Kleffel (1840-1913) and piano with H. Ehrlich (1822-1899) for two years.
  • 1893: In July, he travelled to Christiania (Oslo) and married Walborg Rendtler Bang. They had four children: Eivind, Sigurd, Sigrid and Astrid. The couple resided for a time at the Grieg home, in Bergen, where they discussed the idea of creating a Brazilian musical patrimony. He studied with organist Christian Cappelen for three months.
  • 1894: At the final examinations at the Stern Conservatory Nepomuceno conducted the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra performing his own works, Scherzo für grosses Orchester and Suite antiga. In April, he was nominated Professor of Organ "ad absentio" at the National Institute of Music (NIM) in Rio de Janeiro.
  • 1894: He went to Paris to attend the Schola Cantorum organ courses with Alexandre Guilmant. There he met and discussed music with Camille Saint-Saëns, Charles Bordes and Vincent D'Indy. Nepomuceno was invited by Sorbone's Professor of Greek Charles Chabault to write the incidental music to Sophocles' Electra.
  • 1895: In July, Nepomuceno returned to Rio de Janeiro and gave a historical concert as pianist, organist, and conductor of his works at the NIM.
  • 1896: Nepomuceno was nominated Professor of Composition at the NIM, and Conductor at the Associaçao dos Concertos Populares. In two years, he premiered many works of new Brazilian composers.
  • 1897: On August 1 the NIM organized a major Festival Alberto Nepomuceno. He conducted the premiere of his major symphonic works: Série Brasileira, Symphony in G minor, and As Uyaras among others.
  • 1898: On October 14 Nepomuceno's first opera, Artemis, was premiered at the Teatro São Pedro de Alcântara.
  • 1902: On July 12 Nepomuceno is nominated Director of NIM.
  • 1904: On October 20 he conducted the premiere of O Garatuja. He was designated by the NIM to welcome Saint-Saëns on his arrival in Brazil.
  • 1908: He organized and conducted a 26-concert series, with premieres of major French, Russian, and Brazilian works.
  • 1909: He presented a project to the National Congress for the creation of a National Orchestra subsidized by the government.
  • 1910: He was sent to Brussels, Geneva, and Paris by the Brazilian Government to conduct Brazilian music. He visited Debussy who presented him with the autograph of Pélleas et Mélisande.
  • 1913: On June 30 he traveled to Buenos Aires to attend the world premiere of his opera Abul at the Teatro Coliseo. He conducted a tribute to a Wagner centennial at Rio's Teatro Municipal.
  • 1915: On April 15 he attended the European premiere of Abul at Rome's Teatro Costanzi.
  • 1916: He made a Portuguese translation of Schönberg's Harmonielehre and tried to force it upon the NIM without success.
  • 1919: He conducted his last concerts at the Teatro Municipal and, with the premiere of Villa-Lobos' Concerto for Cello, introduced a new composer to the public.
  • 1920: In February he asked his editor Sampaio Araújo to publish the first of Villa-Lobos' works. In June he was awarded the Gold Medal from King Albert of Belgium for his devotion to Belgian welfare during the war.
  • 1920: On September 23 Richard Strauss conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in his O Garatuja.
  • 1920: On October 16 Nepomuceno died at the age of 56 in Rio de Janeiro.

From the guide to the Alberto Nepomuceno Collection, 1887-1920, (bulk 1894-1920), (Music Division Library of Congress)


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  • Opera--Scores
  • Music--Manuscripts--Facsimiles
  • Composers--Brazil--Photographs
  • Band music, Arranged--Scores and parts
  • Composers--Photographs
  • Suites (Orchestra)--Scores and parts
  • Overtures--Scores and parts
  • Dance music--Scores and parts
  • Dance music
  • String orchestra music--Scores
  • Music--Manuscripts


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  • Brazil (as recorded)