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Three Manifestations of Carlos Seixas (1704-1742): A Study of Historiographical Biography, Reception, and Interpretation


Since the eighteenth century, the biography of Portuguese composer Carlos Seixas (1704-1742) has been shaped under different, sometimes controversial agendas to the point that one could refer to it as a literary construct. Although incorporating some actual historical data, this evolving narrative is also a marker of the epochs and paradigms of the various human beings who have contributed to the legendary, though shadowy iconic status of Carlos Seixas.

The principal research questions of this dissertation are directly associated with three "manifestations" of this construct: (a) an initial manifestation of Seixas's artistic construct during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, tied to early Portuguese histories and the always present mixed feelings towards the music of Italy and Spain, (b) the manifestation of a newer artistic construct in the early to mid-twentieth century tied to various musical analytical models of Seixas's keyboard works, and (c) manifestations associated with historically-informed performance editions and musical style from the late twentieth century to the present day.

Each one of these three manifestations will be considered in a separate part of this dissertation. In the first part, I consider how the conditions, the cultural and political climate of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Portugal have influenced the fixation and transmission of Seixas's presence or reflection in drawings, literature, and histories. The second part poses questions that require unveiling the agendas and motivations behind the scientific analysis of musical style from the earliest editors of Seixas's books, articles, and modern editions from 1910 to 1968. The third part, deals with questions associated with manifestations of modern editions and Seixas's musical style and mid to late-twentieth century paradigms (1969-2011) associated with keyboard organology. I conclude this dissertation by considerations on how the saudades, as a genuinely Portuguese topos, might have played a role in shaping these three manifestations.

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