Images from Land and Sea
The perception that individual decisions may bear a fundamental role in history is an idea that has gradually gained momentum in the social sciences and art studies. Elias’ (1993) and Connerton’s (1993) viewpoint on how ‘societies remember’ and on history as a sum of individual decisions is at the basis of recent research on history makers, and has demonstrated that a full understanding of history may not be complete without a thorough knowledge of the contribution of fundamental figures. This project addresses the study of the history of music in Portugal in the 20th century, focusing the work and activity of the composer, conductor and essayist Frederico de Freitas (FF) (1902-80). His association with the Estado-Novo dictatorial regime was decisive for his establishment as one of this period’s history makers and aesthetic makers, a fundamental figure for the understanding of the construction processes of the regime’s musical aesthetics. As a composer, he demonstrated an unusual versatility, working in different fields within the scope of erudite art-music and popular music; his works include vocal and instrumental music, stage music (dance, theatre and revista), motion-picture soundtracks, and fado. This flexibility, added to the support he received from the political regime, explains why FF became, along with Fernando Lopes-Graça, one of the most relevant personalities in 20th-century Portuguese music. His significance is identifiable in the wide appeal that many of his works, namely his film music, still hold in Portuguese collective memory. In spite of his relevance, FF’s contribution has not been sufficiently studied, and research about this composer is limited to a handful of disperse articles and an exhibit catalogue, associated with commemorations of his birth centennial (Cascudo 2003). Few of his musical works have been published and the available editions often present minimal editorial quality standards. This lack of studies and publications was partly determined by the fact that the composer’s personal archives were confined to the family home until September of 2010, when they were donated to the University of Aveiro. A grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has allowed a preliminary cataloguing of its materials and documents. The vast amount and variety of these materials (music, manuscripts, autographs texts, correspondence, concert programmes, phonograms and photos), however, supersedes the scope of work encompassed by this grant, which will come to a close in July 2011, and did not fund research and dissemination. The extension of the archival work is fundamental for furthering the research on this composer. This project aims to contribute for a better understanding of 20th-century Portuguese history in general, and of the history of music in particular, departing from the research on the work and activity of FF as a history/aesthetic maker. This particular perspective determines the following main lines of investigation:
• Study of FF’s contribution for the development and implementation of a national/nationalistic style associated with politically sanctioned cultural activities, focusing on the articulation procedures between musical, visual and choreographic elements; these activities include performing arts and cultural events as spaces of leisure, sociability and art-based ‘exemplary worlds’.
• Study of the interaction between the aesthetic contexts of art music and popular music as markers of a process of creation and development of a cultural ‘portugality’ during the Estado Novo regime and after the revolution of April 1974.
• Analysis of the procedures of creation, communication and power-field profiling in FF’s contribution to the culture industries as recording producer, film composer and radio programmer.
The broad scope and variety of the materials included in the archives requires the intervention of a multidisciplinary research team within the fields of historical musicology, ethnomusicology, theatre, cinema, dance and musical performance studies, and information technology. Methods to be applied will depart from the conclusion of cataloguing, indexation and digitalization tasks of archive materials, followed by the systematic study of the documents, applying cultural studies methods centred on fieldwork and archive and bibliographic research. The dissemination of research results will include: creation of a dedicated website, displaying selected documents from the archives, associated with an integrated data base and participative search engines (Web 2.0 technology); publication of critical editions of music scores, and a CD edition of selected works, complemented by the organization of concerts; organization of one international conference on history/aesthetic makers in music; publication of one monograph including research team results.
20th-century Portuguese culture, Performing arts, 20th-century Portuguese music, Frederico de Freitas