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Mon, 07.11.1836

Afro Brazilian Composer, Antonio C. Gomes

Antonio Gomes

Antonio Carlos Gomes was born on this date in 1836. He was an Afro Brazilian composer, one of the most distinguished 19th century operatic composers in the world.

He was born in Campinas, Sro Paulo State, the son of the Maestro Manuel José and Fabiana Maria Jaguari Cardoso. His childhood musical tendencies were soon stimulated by his father and by his older brother, José Pedro de Sant'Ana Gomés, also a conductor. José Pedro was the most dedicated guide and adviser in his brother’s artistic career. He convinced Antonio to visit the Court where he became the protegé of Emperor Dom Pedro II, who was famous for his interest in the careers of Brazilian artists and intellectuals. The emperor made it possible for Antônio Carlos to study at the Musical Conservatory of Rio de Janeiro.

Carlos graduated with honors and then produced his first opera, A Noite Do Castelo (September 1861), a big success.  Two years later, produced his second opera, Joana De Flandres, which was considered superior to the first.

These two pieces convinced the Emperor to offer him a prize to study in Italy.  Carlos studied in Milan at the local Conservatory until 1866, when he graduated as a composer-conductor. He soon became famous within the European artistic world with his most well-known opera, Il Guarany, performed in 1870 at the Milan Scala Theater, a place of great lyrical performances.

Gomes wrote and performed many other notable musical plays, such as the operas Fosca (1873) considered by some critics as his masterpiece, Salvador Rosa (1874), Maria Tudor (1878), O Éscravo (1889), Condor (1891), and the symphonic poem, Colombo (1892).

Returning to Italy, Carlos Gomes married Adelina Peri, an Italian pianist he had met while studying in Milan.  He then wrote the hymn Il saluto del Brasile for the centenary of American independence which was performed in Philadelphia, on July 19, 1876.  Gomes, faithful to the monarchy and Dom Pedro II, refused the opportunity President Deodoro da Fonseca gave him to compose the new Brazilian National Anthem.

Economic difficulties forced him to leave Italy and go to Belém do Pará, the capital of the Brazilian province, that had supported him with great nobility.  He was given the direction of the Musical Conservatory, but by then he was an elderly man and he died there on September 16, 1896.

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