Tradition and innovation in the piano works of Portuguese composer António Fragoso (1897–1918)
Andrade, Maria Ines
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Portuguese composer, pianist, and writer António Fragoso (1897–1918) lived in Portugal at the turn of the twentieth century, during the last years of the monarchy and the beginning of the First Republic. Born in the small village of Pocariça in 1897, Fragoso moved to Lisbon in 1914, where he studied at the Lisbon National Conservatory. Although the Lisbon Conservatory was still a conservative institution at that time, Fragoso fought to introduce modernist elements into his works. Influenced by Romantic composers Chopin and Schumann, as well as his contemporaries Debussy and Rachmaninov, among others, Fragoso’s music contains a sophisticated blend of tradition and innovation. The sounds and colors of Pocariça inspired Fragoso's contemplative and nostalgic but passionate music, and a Portuguese melos hovers over all of his compositions. As he was a pianist himself, Fragoso’s oeuvre includes mostly piano works, chamber music with piano, and songs for voice and piano. He also wrote a collection of short stories that has never been published. In October 1918, when he was about to go to Paris to study composition, Fragoso fell victim to the Spanish Flu and died at the very young age of 21. This dissertation describes Fragoso’s musical style and places it within the early twentieth-century European musical scene. The first part of the dissertation includes a sociocultural history of Portugal during Fragoso’s lifetime as well as Fragoso’s biography. The second part presents a detailed analysis of three piano pieces written in different years: Três Mazurcas (1914), Petite Suite (1915), and Nocturno in D-flat major (1917). The analysis includes a description of Fragoso’s compositional style and shows how it changed and evolved over the course of his very short life. The last chapter contains a critical edition of these three pieces that proposes solutions for the discrepancies between the manuscripts and their previously published editions. With this project, I intend to disseminate Fragoso’s music and encourage more frequent performances of his works, helping his name and his music to gain the recognition they deserve.
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