Alberto Nepomuceno

The son of a violinist, chapel master and music educator, Alberto Nepomuceno was born in the northeastern Brazilian city of Fortaleza in 1864. After completing his early music studies, in 1888 Nepomuceno left for Rome where he studied with Sgambati. Two years later he went to Berlin to study with Lechetizky. In 1893 he married Walborg Rendtler Bang, who had been one of Grieg’s pupils. Grieg, a proponent of musical nationalism, encouraged Nepomuceno to establish a Brazilian national school of composition. Several key works were composed during this time, including his third string quartet, which is one of the earliest works to incorporate Brazilian folklore into European musical forms. In 1894 Nepomuceno returned to Brazil where he taught at the National Institute of Music. In 1910 he gave a series of concerts in Belgium, France and Switzerland; during this trip he also became good friends with Debussy. After returning to Brazil he continued to fight for the use of Portuguese in opera and song. He also taught many students, including Villa-Lobos.