Luís de Freitas Branco

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Luís Maria da Costa de Freitas Branco (Lisbon, 12 October 1890 – Lisbon, 27 November 1955) was a Portuguese composer, musicologist, and professor of music who played a pre-eminent part in the development of Portuguese music in the first half of the 20th century.


Luis de Freitas Branco was born into an aristocratic family who for centuries had had close ties to the royal family in Portugal.[citation needed] He had a cosmopolitan education, studied piano and violin beginning in childhood and began composing at a precocious age. He studied music in Berlin and Paris, where he worked with Engelbert Humperdinck and other composers. He returned to Portugal and became professor of composition starting in 1916 at the Lisbon Conservatory of Music, where he became a leading force in restructuring musical education. There he taught, among many others, Joly Braga Santos.

During the 1930s he increasingly encountered political difficulties with the authorities and was finally forced into retirement from his official duties in 1939. He continued to compose, however, and to pursue his research into Portuguese early music, publishing several books and numerous articles. His book about the musical works of King John IV of Portugal (1603–1656), an accomplished composer who introduced new music to Portugal, was published only in the year after Branco's death (Latino 2001).

He was the brother of the Portuguese conductor Pedro de Freitas Branco.

He married Estela Diniz de Ávila e Sousa, born on 18 August 1892, daughter of João Deodato de Ávila e Sousa (b. São Jorge Island, Velas, 10 November 1861) and wife Margarida Diniz, without issue.

He had an illegitimate son by Maria Clara Dambert Filgueiras, of French descent:

  • João de Freitas Branco (Lisbon, 10 January 1922 – Lisbon, Caxias, 17 November 1989), married first to Maria Helena von Hoffmann de Barros de Abreu, daughter of António de Barros de Abreu, a lawyer, and wife German Marie Anna Helena von Hoffmann, three children; married again in 1954, to Maria Isabel do Nascimento, one son.


  • Symphony No. 1 (1924)
  • Symphony No. 2 (1926)
  • Symphony No. 3 (1944)
  • Symphony No. 4 (1952)
  • Scherzo Fantastique (1907)
  • Antero de Quental - symphonic poem (1908)
  • Paraísos Artificiais (Artificial Paradises) - symphonic poem (1910)
  • Tentações de S. Frei Gil (St. Friar Gil's Temptations) (1911)
  • Vathek (1913)
  • Violin Concerto (1916)
  • Alentejo Suite No. 1 (1919)
  • Alentejo Suite No. 2 (1927)
  • Solemnia Verba - symphonic poem (1951)

Selected discography[edit]

Use of his music in film[edit]

External links[edit]


  • Latino, Adriana. 2001. "Branco, Luís (Maria da Costa) de Freitas". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.