Joaquim dos Santos was born in Portugal, in Vilela, Cabeceiras de Basto, in 1936, and died in Moimenta, in the same country, in 2008.
He attended the Seminary in Braga, where he studied Humanities, Philosophy and Theology Courses and studied music with the composer and priest Manuel Faria.
In 1962, he became a priest and remained in the Seminary of Philosophy to teach music. Simultaneously, he studied at the Music Conservatory of Braga, where he attended Luís Filipe Pires, Isabel Malaguerra and Rigaud de Sousa’s classes.
In 1963, he entered the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome. He was a scholarship student of the Italian Institute of Culture and of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. He studied with Ferruccio Vignanello, Armando Renzi, Domenico Bartolucci, among others, and completed the Polyphonic Direction and Interpretation course at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia. He was organist at the Bambino Gesu Parish and created a choir which performed popular Italian songs with their harmonizations. He was also a teacher at St. Pietro’s College.
He returned to Portugal in 1968 and he devoted himself mainly to sacred music, especially in the Archdiocese of Braga, where he founded choirs and instrumental groups. He participated, since its foundation, in the New Journal of Sacred Music. He was a professor of Gregorian chant, Organ, Piano and Polyphony Workshop in the Council of Braga. He had also taught Composition, Music History, Piano and Organ at the Higher Institute of Theology in Braga. In the 70’s and 80’s he committed himself in the collection, arrangement and harmonization of folk songs of the region of Basto. He was a teacher at the Elementary School of Cabeceiras de Basto where he created a substantial part of his educational portfolio for children. He was also a Professor at The Educational High School (ESE) in Fafe.
In the 90’s, he wrote some of the most important works in his catalog. Passio et mors DNJC secundum Lucam is, perhaps, the only major work in this liturgy genre, written in the twentieth century by a Portuguese composer. In 1999, he was awarded the Medal of Merit -grade gold- of the Municipality of Cabeceiras de Basto.
At the turn of the century, the meeting with the Portuguese Saint Anthony in Rome (IPSAR), pitch a new phase in the career of Joaquim dos Santos. Many of his works were primarily presented here. In 2006, the IPSAR honors him with the discographic project Cantabo Domino in Vita Mea.
At the same time, in Portugal, he was challenged to create new compositions. Several presentations were assigned on first audition with Valentim Moreira de Sá Academy (Guimarães), Minho University and Catholic University (Braga).
From simple harmonies of popular themes, songs for the liturgy, music for various instrumental complexes, to choral and symphonic works in a cohesive unit and perfectly complete style, he manages to create a technique that hosts, without prejudice or discrimination, contributions from different phases of music history: from Gregorian chant to the present day, without the mere falsity of quotations and without the sterile subjugations to older schools or rigid styles. (cit. João Duque)
Ana Bela Almeida
Ana Paula Cruz