Bomtempo, João Domingos

(1775-1842)
   Portuguese composer who began his musical studies under his father, Francisco Saveiro Bomtempo, the oboist in the royal court of King José I (1750-77). At the age of 14, he became a singer in the Royal Chapel of Bemposta and, after his father's death, took his place as court oboist at age 20. In 1801, he decided to go to France to continue his musical studies instead of Italy, which was the custom in his day. In Paris, he associated with a group of exiled Portuguese liberals from whom he absorbed liberal ideas and became a committed constitutional monarchist. During his time in Paris, he began his career as a virtuoso pianist and, inspired by Clementi, Cramer, and Dussek, wrote his first compositions: the Grande Sonata para Piano, Primeiro Concerto em Mi bemol para Piano e Orquestra, and the Secundo Concerto para Piano.
   After Napoleon's armies were defeated by a combined Portuguese-British army commanded by General Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington), Bomtempo's prospects in France deteriorated and he left for London in 1810, where he was well received and became a well-regarded professor of piano. During this period, he published many compositions, such as the Terceiro Concerto para Piano, and Capricho e Variações Sobre "GodSave the King." Bom-tempo became active in the Masons at this time. In 1813, to celebrate the final defeat of the French, Bomtempo composed a cantata titled Hino Lusitano, with verses by the liberal poet Vicente Pedro Nolasco da Cunha. He also composed the Primeira Grande Sinfonia and the Quarto Concerto para Piano during this period.
   In 1815, Bomtempo returned to Portugal, where he founded a philharmonic society in order to fill a serious lacuna in the musical culture of Portugal. With the return of the royal court from Brazil and the increasing repression of Portuguese Masons, the situation in Lisbon became untenable for liberals. Bomtempo, who favored a constitutional monarch, returned to London, where he dedicated his work to the "Portuguese nation." He returned to Portugal in 1818, where he composed his best-known work: O Requiem: A Memória de Camões. In 1820, he composed a second requiem in memory of General Gomes Freire, the grand master of Portuguese masonry, who was hanged in 1817. In 1822, his philharmonic society began periodic concerts, but these were forbidden by the absolutist King Miguel I (1802-66) in 1828, and Bomtempo took refuge in the Russian consulate in Lisbon, where he lived for five years until a constitutional monarchy was established by King Pedro IV (1798-1834) in 1834.
   With the establishment of constitutionalism, Bomtempo returned to his artistic activities. In 1835, he composed the Segunda Sinfonia e um Libera Me, dedicated to the memory of King Pedro IV who, exhausted from his struggle against his brother during the "War of the Brothers," died soon after returning to the throne. In 1836, Bon-tempo was made music director of the Court Orchestra and professor of piano in the royal music school, where he introduced the musical pedagogy of Clementi. He continued to compose and direct until his death on 18 August 1842.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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