José Maurício and Marcos Portugal: a false polarization in a context with multiple protagonists
Though it may be regarded as a “given”, the supposed rivalry between Fr. José Maurício Nunes Garcia and Marcos Portugal, as habitually portrayed, is extremely reductionist and simplistic. When the Portuguese court arrived at Rio de Janeiro in 1808, José Maurício was the only musician in a position to take on the leading musical roles and to provide the range of compositions that the court needed. However, little by little, the successive arrivals of musicians from Portugal relieved him of certain tasks: not only Marcos Portugal, but, before him, Bernardo José de Souza Queiroz and Fortunato Mazziotti. Thus the question of the professional relations between the various protagonists in the first years of the Royal Family’s stay is much more complex than the traditional polarisation between José Maurício (the goodie) and Marcos Portugal (the baddie). A grasp, on the one hand, of the range of tasks and positions to be fulfilled and, on the other, of their distribution among the principal musicians available, reveals a great diversity of musical activity and various figures that stand out.
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