Sheet music

Musical contribution - March 2015

Sonata ré menor (José António Carlos de Seixas 1704-1742)

Carlos was born in Coimbra, Portugal. His father, the organist in the Church of Sé Velha, taught him to play, and at the age of 14 Carlos took over from his father. Two years later he moved to Lisbon, where he was appointed to the post of organist for the Royal Chapel. He combined this position with that of organist at Lisbon Cathedral. He stayed in the city until his death of acute asthma in 1742.

According to his contemporaries, Seixas’ works included more than 700 sonatas. Unfortunately, many of his works were lost in the earthquake of 1755. His compositions are reminiscent of the Empfindsamer Stil, a transitional phase between austere baroque and the classicist.

- polyphony is relegated to the background;

- forms become shorter and more simple;

- notation becomes more accurate and less improvisational.

Surprisingly, his liturgical music is much more traditional than the instrumental works. Around 1970, a complete Mass from his hand was discovered in the Cathedral of Viseu.

So this month, we are featuring one of the many sonatas written by this important Portuguese composer. In three parts, by which we should note that the last part is a minuet, as is so often the case with Seixas.

I have also left out the slurs and staccatos, because in some editions of his work they are plentiful, but others contain almost none. Simply play it with verve, and we will certainly do the music justice.

Kind regards,

André van Vliet