Frederico de Freitas (1902-1980)

Composer, conductor, teacher and musicologist, Frederico de Freitas was one of the most important figures in Portuguese cultural life during the 20th century. Versatility marked his role as creator in the contexts of Western art music, the recording and film industries, and compositions for theatre and dance.

Frederico Guedes de Freitas was born on November 15th, 1902, in Lisbon, and began studying music with his mother. He enrolled at the National Conservatoire in Lisbon in 1915, and he composed his first works when he was 16 years old. He also studied orchestral conducting, especially after 1924, and completed a degree in composition at the National Conservatoire in 1925.

He was awarded several prizes, including first prize at the National Composition Competition (1926), and at the Domingos Bomtempo (1942), and Carlos Seixas (1963 and 1971) competitions.

From 1927 until the mid-1930s, he composed instrumental music and songs for successful stage productions of operetta and vaudeville, and worked as producer and composer for the recording industry (he was the musical director for the Portuguese delegation of His Master’s Voice in the early 1930s). During this period, he also began composing for movies, and he was the author of the music for the first Portuguese sound film (A Severa, 1931). This connection to the film industry lasted until 1947, and he composed incidental music and/or songs for several highly acclaimed Portuguese movies. He also collaborated with the dance company Bailados Portugueses Verde Gaio, and he composed several works for dance performances during the 1940s. He was often invited to compose music for official events of state institutions, organized by the Estado-Novo regime.

He was appointed associated conductor of the Portuguese Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1935, and conducted several of the state radio ensembles, in Portugal and abroad, until 1975. He often conducted Portuguese repertoire, and premiered several works by Portuguese contemporary composers. Although his activity as a conductor was intense, he nevertheless remained dedicated to composing. His output includes symphonic, chamber, vocal and stage music; he also harmonized and arranged Portuguese traditional music.

He taught choral and composition courses at several schools in Lisbon from 1923.

Frederico de Freitas died in Lisbon on January 12th, 1980.



Frederico de Freitas’ personal archives at the University of Aveiro Library.

Maria de São José Côrte-Real and Adriana Latino. “Freitas, Frederico Guedes de”. In Enciclopédia da Música em Portugal no Século XX, edited by Salwa Castelo-Branco, vol. 2, 524-529. Lisbon: Círculo de Leitores.

Teresa Cascudo, ed. 2003. Frederico de Freitas: 1902-1980. Lisbon: Instituto Português de Museus - Museu da Música.



This composer has 38 works on AvA:

Orchestra (13)

Chamber Music (3)

Woodwinds (1)

Brass (1)

Strings (17)

Voice (3)

Piano (4)

Organ (1)

Collections (7)