Mariana Museum of Music Project
first stage of the project is the reorganisation of a collection of nearly
two thousand pieces by Brazilian and foreign composers from the 17th to
the 20th centuries.
A team of musicologists, the elite of Brazilian researchers, was summoned to carry out the task, and the professor and researcher, Paulo Castagna, from UNESP, one of the leading specialists in the theme was invited to co-ordinate the project.
Most of the scores are exemplars of Brazilian religious music from the 18th and 19th centuries, and some from the 17th and 20th centuries. Secular music, which accounts for 5 to 10 % of the collection, is represented by ballroom dances (polkas, mazurkas and waltzes), songs and some instrumental pieces.
The project Restoration and Dissemination started in January 2001 with an exhaustive research in the archives of the Mariana Museum of Music. Unknown pieces of great artistic value by some well-known composers were soon brought to light.
Various composers unknown even to the most attentive music enthusiast, were identified. With this project, these composers are officially recorded in the country's musical historiography.
Another curiosity is the large number of scores of undefined authorship. Anonymous composers - a characteristic of historical music from Minas Gerais - are in all the CDs of the series. Justice has been done to composers such as Miguel Teodoro Ferreira (c1788-1818), Frutuoso de Matos Couto (fl.1822-1856) and Manoel Dias de Oliveira (c1735-1813), by publicising their important and hither to unknown work. The work of these composers works used to be performed mainly by choirs in the churches of Minas Gerais.
Due to their grandiosity as well as to the existence of dozens of unknown compositions, the archives of Mariana form one of the most important collections of historical music in the country.
The Mariana collection gains in importance when we consider the difficulty in studying the scores written during the colonial period.
We suppose that when the Jesuits were banished by the Marquis of Pombal in 1759, they might have taken these scores out of the country. Another factor which contributed to the scarcity of documents on our religious music was that Latin was abolished as official language of the Church by the II Vatican Council , between 1963 and 1965.
Most of the scores, which were part of the Catholic liturgy, were set aside or simply thrown away. It is precisely due to the great dimensions of the Mariana archive that the choice was made for the edition of the nine thematic CDs.
The work carried out by the researchers in the Mariana Museum of Music can already be regarded as a landmark in Brazilian musicology.