The events of Portuguese musical art over the centuries do not appear to be characterized by constant properties capable of distinguishing a national school within the vast framework of European music. However, Portugal knows how to welcome and encourage the strongest stylistic tendencies of the various peoples, from Arabic to Italian, with whom it comes into contact from time to time.
Thus we know, from various tests, that troubadour art also had a re-expression in Portugal, which however did not reach that level of aesthetic refinement that gave the analogous Provençal and French currents a universal value. More than anything else it found nourishment and reason in the popular practice of both opera and drama (eg, in the Serranilhas, equivalent in genre and structure to the Provençal ballads, but completely popular, and in the Villoncicos [mysteries] which were also rapidly descended into the vulgar).
According to COMPUTERMINUS.COM, direct documents of this first period only remain in the neumatic code of Lisbon: Ceremoniale Episcoporum antiquum, etc., quite rich in chants, and, less direct, in a manuscript of the fourteenth century containing a Canção do Figueiral handed down to the extender of the document by oral tradition.
With kings Alfonso III, Dionigi, Alfonso IV, Pedro I, the musical life intensified variously, and reached high prosperity under John I, always, however, relying on popular currents.
From the end of the thirteenth century onwards, a church current of Anglo-French style emerged close to these currents. A very useful document of this position is found in the Ceremonial of the Kings copied at the English court by King Alfonso V for direct use of the Portuguese Chapels. To the rules contained in this Ceremonial the organization of the court chapel itself founded by Alfonso’s successor, and precisely by John II, was informed. Under Manoel II, this chapel rises to great importance, being called artists of great name: João de Coimbra, Diego de Belmonte, Matheus de Fontes, Diego Gonçalves, Fernão Rodriguez, etc. This center gives a great increase to the musical activity of the town, which will find in the early 1500s an exponent in the artistic personality of Gil Vicente, writer of Autos sacramentales whose poetic text (mostly in Spanish) is still admired today. As for music, Vicente usually composed it using melodies already known to the people. In the same century there was a very notable representative of musical studies in Damião de Goes, a well-known theorist and composer of the Franco-Flemish school. The other renowned masters working in Portugal during this period are largely Spanish, except for Manuel Mendes, João de Badajoz, Gonçalve de Baena, Vicente Lusitano and a few others.
From the late century From the 16th to the late 17th, the ranks of Portuguese masters grew considerably, including among others the names of A. de Agujar, De Madeira, A. Lobo, A. Vaz de la Costa, J. Leite-Pereira, MR Coelho, Ph. de Magalhães and that, very famous in his time, by Duarte Lobo, author of religious music in the Italian concertante style.
In fact, the reign of John IV coincides with the period of greatest Portuguese musical flowering, and the religious genre, represented especially by M. Corduso and J. Rebello, achieved good aesthetic results in a style, however, dominated by the Palestrinian school. The monarch himself is a good musician and theorist.
After John IV the influx of Spanish musicians and masters begins again, but there is no lack of good Portuguese names, especially in the religious genre: F. da Costa, J. da Silva, C. da Fonseca, A. Teixeira, etc.
But towards the end of the century. The influence of the Italian school arrives for the first time, especially of the operatic, but also of the religious and instrumental ones, which during the 18th century completely dominated Portuguese musical life. The few national musicians, including FA de Almeida, also write in perfect Italian style.
And since then Portugal has produced, in addition to excellent master composers, also performers, theorists, etc., in a stylistic orbit impregnated with foreign influences: after the Italian opera, while dying out in instrumental music at the beginning of that century), the German. But a promising national awakening can be seen in Portugal recently, according to the example given by the modern Spanish school to which so many ethnic values can approach it. The work of J. Vianna da Motta, a great interpreter (pianist) but also an excellent symphonist, can already be trusted for a future artistic flourish. Which will not lack the necessary foundations: musical education institutions, concert companies, Portuguese opera houses can be considered,