Thursday, March 13, 2008

Portuguese Royal Family's Arrival in Brazil in 1808 Was A Hardship for José Mauricio Nunes Garcia

2008 is the Bicentennial of the arrival of the Portuguese Royal Family in Brazil, where it sought refuge from events in Europe. Its arrival had a profound effect on the career of Padre José Mauricio Nunes Garcia, the Afro-Brazilian composer and organist who held the post of Chapel Master at the Cathedral in Rio de Janeiro. He is profiled at

The Prince Regent Dom João brought with him leading members of the Portuguese Catholic Church, some of whom tried to have José Mauricio removed from his position because of his color. Dom João overruled that effort, and on November 26, 1808 confirmed Nunes Garcia as master musician of the Royal Chapel. Still, the church musicians from Portugal demonstrated their hostility toward him and worked together to make life difficult for him because of his African heritage.

One of many recent blogs to focus on the Bicentennial is operated by a Local History Club. On March 12 it posted an article which translates from Portuguese as “The arrival of the Royal Family in Rio de Janeiro, March 8, 1808”. The authors are Maria dos Anjos Luís, a History teacher, and Lurdes Neto, a teacher of Portuguese.

They write that the municipal authorities in Rio de Janeiro have prepared a calendar of events, with each month representing one year of the 13-year reign of Dom João, except for May, which represents two years. Concerts of music from the era of José Mauricio Nunes Garcia have been scheduled, a television series will portray the presence of the Royal Family in Rio in 13 episodes, and numerous other productions and expositions are scheduled.

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