- Portugal's musical tradition began in the 15th century when songs (cantigas) written by court troubadours were set to music. Early in the 16th century the cathedral in Coimbra became a center for the composition of polyphonic music and produced several composers of note. Portugal's musical tradition was carried throughout the Portuguese overseas empire. The playwright Gil Vicente used incidental music in his religious plays, some of which could be described as protomusicals. Until the 17th century, musical training was controlled by the Catholic Church, and the clergy dominated the field of composition. During this 18th century, Portuguese mon-archs lavished money and attention on music teachers and composers, which gave Portugal the best and liveliest court music anywhere in Europe. During the period, the Italian Domenico Scarlatti was court choirmaster, which infused Portuguese church music and opera with the Neapolitan style. A Portuguese, João de Sousa Carvalho, was one of the most popular composers of opera and musical drama in Europe during the second half of the 18th century.Perhaps the best-known Portuguese composer is João Domingos Bomtempo. Bomtempo wrote music in the classical style and, as head of the National Academy of Music, assured that the classical style remained integral to Portuguese music until well into the Romantic era. Gradually, Romantic music from Europe was accepted, having been introduced by Alfredo Keil, a Portuguese painter, musician, and opera composer of German descent. Portugal's only Romantic composer of note, Keil wrote the music for A Portuguesa, the official Portuguese national anthem since 1911.The most widely known musical form of Portugal is the fado. Meaning fate, fado is singing that expresses a melancholic longing intermingled with sadness, regret, and resignation. There are at least two variations of fado: the Lisbon fado and the Coimbra or university student fado. Its origins are hotly debated. The most famous Portuguese fado singer was Amália Rodrigues (1920-99); presently, Mariza holds that claim.
Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. by Douglas L. Wheeler . 2014.
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