The piano works of Leopoldo Miguéz (1850-1902)
Cayres de Mendonca, Victor
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Brazilian composer Leopoldo Américo Miguéz (1850–1902) lived in the cosmopolitan city of Rio de Janeiro at a time when the prevailing cultural background of the aristocracy was still prominently European. His entire production consisted of thirty-eight works with opus numbers and few other works that have not yet been published, all of which were influenced by European romantic music traditions while demonstrating no strong connection with Brazilian local and popular culture. He wrote a small quantity of twelve piano works represented in ten opus numbers, one collection of pieces without opus number, and one unpublished piece. These are mostly in short forms such as mazurkas, nocturnes, and character pieces with suggestive titles in the manner of short piano works by Brahms, Chopin, Fauré, Grieg, Mendelssohn, Liszt, and Schumann. With few exceptions, no great significance has been attributed to his piano works throughout the written history of Brazilian music. This is partly due to the lingering effect of two lines of negative criticism published during and after his lifetime that hurt his reputation and turned him into an obscure and forgotten composer. One was regarding his symphonic works, which were heavily influenced by Wagner, Berlioz, and Liszt. The other was in the context of an enduring process of nationalization of Brazilian arts and a rupture from European influences in the beginning of the 20th century. The music of Miguéz fell greatly out of favor during this campaign, resulting in lasting damage to his name that has yet to be reversed. The purpose of this dissertation is to draw attention to his pianistic output, asserting its integrity, quality, and valuable contribution to the development of music in Brazil. Biographical information as well as in-depth musical analysis of each piano work are supplied in the course of the narrative. My hope is that by providing and disseminating this information, Leopoldo Miguéz will be better understood, accepted, and more often performed.