Adams, H. Leslie
Akpabot, Samuel Ekpe
Bonds, Margaret Allison
Burleigh, Henry Thacker
Dawson, William Levi
Dett, R. Nathaniel
Ellington, Edward K. "Duke"
Garcia, José Mauricio Nunes
Hailstork, Adolphus C.
Johnson, James Price
Kay, Ulysses Simpson
Lambert, Charles Lucien, Sr.
Lambert, Lucien-Leon G., Jr.
Moerane, Michael Mosoeu
Pradel, Alain Pierre
Price, Florence Beatrice Smith
Saint-Georges, Le Chevalier de
Smith, Irene Britton
Still, William Grant
Walker, George Theophilus
White, José Silvestre
Williams. Julius Penson
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Padre José Mauricio Nunes Garcia:
Te Deum and Requiem in D Minor, Music of the Court of Dom João VI;
UFR Chorus and Symphony Orchestra (2008)
La Passion du Baroque Brésilien
(The Passion of the Brazilian Baroque)
Missa de Nossa Senhora do Carmo
& Matinas do Natal
Association of Choral Singing
Cleofe Person de Mattos, Director
Camerata de Rio de Janeiro
Henrique Morelenbaum, Director
Jade 75443-2 (1991)
Missa Pastoril for soloists, choir and orchestra
Ensemble Turicum (1998)
Composers -> Garcia, José
Sacred Music of José
Mauricio Nunes Garcia; Missa de Sonhora da Conceição
CPM 106; Credo em si bemol CPM 129; The University
of Texas at Austin Chamber Singers; James Morrow, conductor;
Longhorn Music LHM2007003 (2010).
José Mauricio Nunes Garcia (1767-1830) was an Afro-Brazilian
composer and organist who was the grandson of slaves.
The Choral Public Domain Library provides a list of the
composer's choral works at:
Antonio Campos Monteiro Neto has generously made his information available to AfriClassical.com,
with the stipulation that credit be given when material at the
site is used. We received an update from him on March 12, 2012:
delay occurred because I had to rewrite all his
biography, due to new documents found at the Cathedral
of Rio de Janeiro. Best Regards, Antonio Campos Monteiro
He begins by noting that 240 works of music by José Mauricio Nunes Garcia have survived,
and that early biographers estimate his total output at nearly
twice that number:
Nunes Garcia are known 240 musical pieces, but research
shows that his actual production would be almost twice
this number. This quantity, and the quality of his works
made him one of the most important composers of Brazil,
in most of his lifetime a colony of Portugal.
thanks to the outstanding work made by musicologist Ms.
Cleofe Person de Mattos (1913-2002), the main
facts of the composer's life are established, and his
remaining works are cataloged. To her memory we dedicate
José Mauricio Nunes Garcia's mother was Vitória Maria da Cruz
father was Apolinário Nunes Garcia, a tailor. Antonio
Campos Monteiro Neto says they were married in 1762. He
tells us each parent was the child of a slave and a plantation
mother was Joana Gonçalves, a slave of Simão Gonçalves,
and Apolinário was son of Ana Correa do Desterro, and
they both had no known fathers, that is another way to
say they were both their landlord´s children.
The child was born in Rio de Janeiro on September 22, 1767.
Antonio Campos Monteiro Neto tells us an aunt lived with the
family and helped
raise young José Mauricio after his father died in
1773. One way they aided in his development was to ask
their friend Salvador José de Almeida e Faria to share his
education in music with the youth. Monteiro Neto relates
that some evidence indicates that José Mauricio sang in the
choir of the Cathedral of Rio Janeiro as a soprano. He
adds that choir members attended the Seminary of St. Jacques,
where they were taught to read Music, Greek and Latin.
4 Music Education
Monteiro Neto gives further details of the youth's music
According to Manuel de Araújo Porto Alegre, his early
biographer, he had "a beautiful voice and a great
musical memory"; "reproduced everything he heard", and "created
melodies of his own and played the harpsichord and the
guitar without ever have learned to".
In 1779, at twelve, he began to teach music. José
Mauricio never had a piano or a harpsichord, and trained
himself by teaching harpsichord to the society´s ladies.
To learn the organ, he was assisted by some good
organists in the churches.
José Mauricio completed his education in the "Royal
Classes", with lectures in history, geography, latin
grammar and philosophy, and rhetoric as well.
The Webmaster of
the Brazilian site next recounts the process Nunes Garcia
followed to be ordained as a priest in the Archdiocese, or See,
of Rio de Janeiro:
José Mauricio composed the first work that came to our
days: the antiphon Tota pulchra Es Maria (CPM 1)
in 1783, dedicated to the Cathedral and See.
During the decade of 1780, he studied the necessary
disciplines to the examinations he had to go through to
be ordained a priest, and began a collaboration with the
old chapel master of the See, deacon Lopes Ferreira.
This would be the first step to his final goal, to be
Lopes Ferreira´s successor as the See´s chapel master.
We next learn from Monteiro Neto of the compositions which
the composer as a recognized figure in the musical life of Rio
1784, a group of musicians founded in Rio de Janeiro the
brotherhood of Santa Cecília, whose objective was to
regulate their professional life. José Mauricio signed
the foundation act as a music teacher.
time he composed the following works: Litany for Our
Lady in 4 voices and organ, in 1788, the anthems
O Redemptor Summe Carmen and Pange Lingua, in
1789, and the works a capella "for all the Holy Week of
the See" (Bradados), from those the most important is
Bradados de 6ª feira maior (CPM 219), for Holy
Friday, which includes the motets Crux Fidelis (CPM
205), Heu Domine (CPM 211), Popule Meus (CPM 222),
Sepulto Domino (CPM 223), and Vexilla Regis (CPM
In 1790 he composed an instrumental work that made him
famous in Rio de Janeiro: the Funeral Symphony (CPM
Antonio Campos Monteiro Neto details the requirements for
a priest, and the steps by which José Mauricio satisfied them. These included a request that the bishop not hold him ineligible
due to "any color defect":
requested his ordination in 1791. The ecclesiastic
career would join his religious education and his
musical art, and compensate his low origin as well.
Two requisites to be ordained were: to prove the true
Catholic faith from himself and from his parents, and to
be free from "any colour defect". The first had been
proved through research and witnessing from his parents'
and grandmothers' friends on their faith. To overcome
the second obstacle, he requested from the bishop to be
dismissed from his "defect", in which he was successful.
In June, 1791, he began the necessary examinations.
In March, 1792, he was ordained. The last requirement,
to own any asset, was gone through with the help of one
of his student's father, Thomaz Gonçalves, who gave him
a house at Rua das Bellas Noutes.
In the year of his ordination as a priest, we learn from
Monteiro Neto, Padre (Father) José Mauricio Nunes Garcia entered
a religious order, the Brotherhood of Sao Pedro dos Clerigos,
located in St. Peter's Church in Rio de Janeiro:
1791, having all his time dedicated to the studies, he
wrote just one piece of music, a Te Deum for the
"successful arrival" of Dom Luís de Vasconcelos in
This same year, he joined the brotherhood of São Pedro
José Mauricio Nunes Garcia began teaching public music classes
in his home in 1795, using only a single steel guitar, we learn
from the Webmaster of the Brazilian site on his life:
1795, he became a public music instructor, giving "Royal
Classes" of music for free, in his house at Rua das
Great musicians and singers had their musical education
in his class. They would enrich Rio´s musical stage in
the 19th century.
10 Productive Period
Monteiro Neto tells us Padre José Mauricio Nunes Garcia entered
productive period as a composer once he was ordained a priest:
he was accepted as a priest, José Mauricio had a time of
great productivity, creating 32 new pieces of music,
among them graduals, antiphons, various psalms, a
Magnificat (CPM 16) only for voices, the vespers:
Vésperas das Dores de N. Srª. (CPM 177) ,
Vésperas de N. Srª. (CPM 178) , in 1797, several
works for Holy Week: two Miserere, one for Holy
Wednesday (CPM 194), and the other for Holy
Thursday (CPM 195), and his first mass, Missa
para os pontificiais da Sé, in 1797.
11 Chapel Master
The death of the Chapel Master, Lopes Ferreira, in July 1797 led
to the appointment of José Mauricio as his successor, we learn
from Monteiro Neto:
dream of being master of chapel and preacher of the See
One of his attributions was to compose, when requested
by the Senate, pieces of music for religious feasts, and
for important events such as marriages and the birth of
a prince in the Portuguese Royal Family. Among these
first works was a Te Deum in thanksgiving for the
birth of prince D. Pedro, in 1798.
he joined the brotherhood of Nossa Senhora do Rosário e
São Benedito dos Homens Pretos, in whose church the See
This same year he composed the Officium for the Dead
(CPM 183) and a Requiem Mass (CPM 184), in
honor of the dead priests, probably a personal tribute
to Lopes Ferreira, and the Christmas Matins (CPM
12 Brazilian Music
We learn from Monteiro Neto that José Mauricio's membership in a
Literary Society brought him into contact with a leader of the
struggle against Portuguese rule, and led him to add Brazilian
popular music and folk music to his liturgical compositions:
part in meetings at the Literary Society, founded in
1794, until its closing and the arrest of its leaders in
1797, after they had been accused of revolutionary
activities against the Portuguese Crown.
Among them was Manuel Inácio da Silva Alvarenga, from
the city of Vila Rica, who had relationship with the
condemned leaders of the insurrectional movement in the
province of Minas Gerais. Silva Alvarenga made appear in
him a deep feeling of his national identity, which
reflected into his sacred works from this time, in which
adapted brazilian popular and folk songs were inserted.
Nunes Garcia moved his
residence around 1800, we are told by the Brazilian Website, and
began composing modinhas:
end of the century, he moved to his house at Rua das
Bellas Noutes, taking part in the "serenades" near the
Public Garden. From this time three Modinhas were
composed, printed by music editor Pierre Laforge in
1837: Beijo a mão que me condena (CPM 226) - I kiss
the very hand that condemns me, Marília, se não
me amas (CPM 238) - Marília, if you don´t love me,
and No momento da partida, meu coração t´entreguei
(CPM 239), - At the moment of departure I gave you my
heart. A copy of these two last works has been
recently found in Germany.
Monteiro Neto reports that the Catholic Church prohibited its
priests from marrying, but they customarily did so anyway, as
José Mauricio did:
was usual in the Brazilian society, despite prohibition,
José Mauricio had Severiana Rosa de Castro, born in
1789, as his wife in the first two decades of the 19th
century. From this marriage six children were born,
and five of them survived: Apolinário José in 1807, José
1808 (the only one he recognized to be his son),
Josefina in 1810, Panfília in 1811 and Antônio in 1813.
15 Instrumental Music
The Tempest and Zemira are overtures from
1803 which mark the composer's diversification of his
compositions into the instrumental genre, according to Monteiro
beginning of the 19th century, he diversified his
production with purely instrumental works, the overtures
The Tempest (CPM 233) and Zemira (CPM
231), written in 1803.
With exception of these two pieces, few other works
composed between 1800 and 1807 have survived to present
days: two graduals, the motet Te Christe Solum
Novimus (CPM 52), written in 1800, the Te Deum
para as Matinas da Assunção (CPM 91) the Mass in
B Flat (CPM 102), both written in 1801, and the
antiphon In Honorem Beatissimae Maria Virginis (CPM
4), written in 1807.
16 Royal Refuge
Events in Europe caused the Royal Family of Portugal to take
refuge in Brazil in March, 1808, we learn from the Brazilian
Website, and the Prince Regent Dom João brought with him leading
members of the Portuguese Catholic Church. Some of them tried to
have José Mauricio removed from his post because of his color:
admission of the Brazilian ministries had been
officialized. But the Portuguese priests thought
otherwise: in an anonymous document, they stated that,
as a measure of economy, the ministers should be limited
to those who served previously Dom João. This would
spare him to see in his chapel someone with a "visible
The someone with a "visible physical defect" was the
See´s chapel master.
That was only the beginning of a series of aggressive
actions, with the objective of humiliating the man they
considered to be of an inferior race. But Dom João
recognized his musical gifts, and confirmed him, on
November 26th, as the master musician of the Royal
Chapel. José Mauricio was officially the first
musician of the kingdom of Portugal.
17 New Works
Musicians were summoned from Portugal to bring the Church music
Brazil into line with the standards of Dom João, Monteiro Neto
tells us, and José Mauricio was told to concentrate on writing
new works. He did so in great number:
musical ensemble of the old See did not please Dom João,
nor its repertory. To improve its quality, he
ordered the musicians from the Royal Chapel of Lisbon to
come to Rio. To José Mauricio he left the task of
composing new works.
About 70 music pieces were composed from 1808 to 1811,
to ornate with music various solemnities.
Still in 1808, Dom João conceded to José Mauricio the
"ração de creado particular" (a benefit for personal
servants), an honor that made him equivalent to any
other Portuguese servant of the Crown.
Among the works
of 1808, the account continues, was the Missa Pastoril (CPM
108). It was recorded in 1998 by the Ensemble Turicum,
whose website is:
The new musicians began arriving in 1809, we learn from Monteiro
Neto, and resented being led by a person they considered
inferior to themselves. They also rejected the local
musical style, and so worked together to make life difficult for José Mauricio:
musicians from Lisbon were acquainted with another
musical style, and not satisfied by being conducted by
whom they considered inferior, acted as a group making
pressure against him.
vacancies among the staff, José Mauricio kept up a busy schedule.
He conducted a Mass and a Te Deum he had composed.
The account continues with the names of two plays for which the
Chapel Master wrote the musical accompaniment:
year he made two pieces for stage plays, whose author
was Dom Gastão Fausto da Câmara Coutinho: Ulissea,
Drama Eroico (CPM 229) and O Triunfo da América
(CPM 228) - The Triumph of America. The soloist for
the two plays was Joaquina Maria da Conceição da Lapa, a
was also made a knight in 1809, much to the consternation of
Monteiro Neto relates that the Chapel Master was required to pay
his performers in advance, and seek reimbursement later.
Payments due to him were delayed so long that he was
forced to mortgage his house to meet his payroll. We are
also told that his new duties as archivist of music brought from
a palace in Portugal gave him new insights for composing.
Another serious setback occurred when the Chapel Master of Lisbon,
a brilliant and cultivated composer and organist named Marcos
Portugal, arrived in 1811 and persuaded the Senate not to renew
José Mauricio's contract as Chapel Master. Marcos Portugal
became his successor. A serious illness led the Senate to
temporarily reinstate José Mauricio as Chapel Master, but Marcos
Portugal recovered and reclaimed the position. In 1812,
José Mauricio also lost the position
We learn from Monteiro Neto that both the Queen of Portugal and Vitória Maria da
Cruz, José Mauricio's mother, died on the same day, March 20, 1816.
Their deaths led him to
compose the two works now considered his best masterpieces:
not known where Vitória Maria was buried. But the sorrow
of her son would be revealed in his Missa de Requiem
(CPM 185) - Requiem Mass and in the Ofício
dos Defuntos (CPM 186), - Officium for the Dead,
requested by the Ordem Terceira do Carmo to their
funeral mass in the memory of the queen. These are
regarded today as his two masterpieces.
On July 4th Fortunato Mazziotti was nominated master of
the Royal Chapel. This nomination was a way to make
clear to José Mauricio he would work no more for the
21 Brazil's First Opera
Monteiro Neto tells us that a Royal wedding in 1817 included a
group of 16 skilled musicians from Europe, giving José Mauricio
the opportunity to compose 12 Divertimenti for the ceremony:
excellence of all musicians made the people gather in
Largo de São Jorge, near the house where José Mauricio
lived, to hear the rehearsals. The priest composed for
this ensemble a series of 12 Divertimenti, received with
enthusiasm, and whose original scores were taken with
them to Europe, disappearing there.
Portugal's state of health made the year of 1818
productive again to José Mauricio.
The year 1817
was also when José Mauricio Nunes Garcia composed the first
Brazilian opera, Le Due Gemelle (The Two Twins). His
output in 1818 included, we are told by Monteiro Neto, a
Novena (CPM 67), a Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of
110), a Qui Sedes and Quoniam (CPM 163) and three
Motets, as well as a Mass for Feast of the Beheading of St.
John the Baptist. We are further informed by Monteiro
Neto that in December 1819 he conducted the first
Brazilian performance of Mozart's Requiem (K 626).
22 St. Cecilia's Mass
The account of Monteiro Neto relates that the score of Le Due Gemelle was destroyed by fire
in 1825, and that José Mauricio wrote his last work, St. Cecilia's Mass the
1825, a fire in the Royal Theater turned the score of
Le Due Gemelle into ashes.
In 1826, Dom João died in Portugal, of a suspected
poisoning. The news of his death turned José Mauricio's
mood into sorrow.
This year, two of his scholars, on behalf of the
brotherhood of Stª Cecília, requested him a new mass
with great orchestra, that would be his last work: the
St. Cecilia's Mass (CPM 113), presented this same
year in november. It is a monumental work (276 pages),
and the score was later donated by his son Dr. José
Mauricio Nunes Garcia to the Instituto Histórico e
Geográfico Brasileiro, when he joined this institution.
From 1826 to his death in 1830, José Mauricio dedicated
himself to review its orchestration, and he wrote a
Treatise of Harmony and Counterpoint, now lost.
The Brazilian Webmaster says the wages of Church musicians had
long been unpaid,
due to financial problems, and a demand for payment was made in 1828 but was not successful.
He reports that lack of money contributed to José Mauricio Nunes
of health, and reports that he died on April 18, 1830:
1829, he resigned to the title of Knight of the Order of
Christ, on behalf of his "nephew" José, who he
recognized to be his son in 1830.
In the beginning of 1830, it seems he had lost his house
again. He was living in a small house at Rua do
Núncio (now República do Líbano street).
In February 1830 Marcos Portugal died, and he was buried
in the Convent of Stº Antônio. José Mauricio,
perhaps guessing it was his turn to die, made his bed to
be put in the first floor of his house, "not to bother
anyone". In April 18, being present his son and a slave,
he passed away, whispering an anthem to Our Lady.
Ensemble Turicum provides this commentary on the role of José
Mauricio Nunes Garcia in the musical life of Brazil:
At the heart of the creation of Brazilian musical history, José
Mauricio was considered by his contemporaries to be a peerless
organist and an excellent improvisor. His first period of
creativity, which ended with the arrival of the royal court from Portugal, was defined by a refined and elegant melody in the
manner of Haydn and Mozart.
25 Sacred Music
Sacred Music of José Mauricio Nunes Garcia is a recording of
Missa de Sonhora da
Conceição (Mass of Our Lady of Conception) 1810, C.P.M.
Credo em si bemol
(Credo in B flat major), C.P.M. 129
The University of Texas at
Austin Chamber Singers and Orchestra perform on this
recording under the direction of Dr. James Morrow,
conductor. The CD was released and is copyrighted by
Longhorn Music, The University of Texas at Austin Center for
American Music, LHM2007003 (2010).
Notes on the music are
by Ricardo Bernardes, Musicologist and Conductor, who is
Editor of José Mauricio Nunes Garcia's Missa de Nossa
Senhora da Conceição 1810:
The Mass on this
recording was composed in 1810, at which time the Royal
Chapel had more than one hundred musicians comprising
renowned Brazilian and Portuguese singers and
instrumentalists, as well as Italian castrati. This
group was conducted by José Mauricio Nunes Garcia
(1767-1830) from 1808 to 1811 and then by the famous
Portuguese composer Marcos Portugal, who arrived towards
the end of Nunes Garcia's term as conductor.
The notes tell
us that musical language in Brazil was transformed during the
By the time of his tenure
at the Royal Chapel, Nunes Garcia's music was strongly
influenced by Italian opera from the beginning of the
19th century, whose iconic composers included Paisiello
and Cimarosa. Nunes Garcia's music was also tied to the
musical life of Portugal through the compositions of
Marcos Portugal and Antonio Leal Moreira, both
well-known composers in Brazil.
significance of the Mass of Our Lady of Conception is
emphasized by Ricardo Bernardes:
The most emblematic,
creative, and important work of this period is the
Missa de Sonhora da Conceição (Mass of Our Lady of
Conception) 1810, C.P.M. 106 (Portuguese abbreviation
for Cleofe Person de Mattos's catalog of Nunes Garcia's
works). Nunes Garcia put into practice all the
techniques and coloristic possibilities of the orchestra
This page was last updated
January 23, 2021