Portuguese musical groups dedicated to the erudite contemporary music repertoire: new research directions

Maria Inês Pires

CESEM / FCSH – NOVA University, Portugal


In the 1960s, a new generation of composers like Filipe Pires, Jorge Peixinho, Emmanuel Nunes, Constança Capdeville, Álvaro Salazar and Cândido Lima began to have contact with renowned European composers, as for instance Luigi Nono, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iánnis Xenákis, Pierre Boulez, Pierre Schaeffer and Henri Pousseur. Influenced by them, Portuguese younger composers took the first step towards a profound change in the Portuguese musical panorama. In this way, the musical ideas that were developed in France, Germany and in other Center Europe countries, such as musique concrète, serialism and others, started to be introduced in Portugal.

Nevertheless, the contemporary repertoire of the Portuguese music scene continued to encounter adversities, which led to some composers starting their own musical groups. For instance, Jorge Peixinho created Grupo de Música Contemporânea de Lisboa in 1970, Cândido Lima started Grupo Música Nova (1973), Álvaro Salazar formed Oficina Musical (1978), Constança Capdville established Colecviva (1985) and Miso Ensemble was founded by Miguel Azguime and Paula Azguime (1985).

If until 1985, we usually observe a presence of a composer on the contemporary ensemble group foundation, from the 1990’s onwards, the presence of musicians and other identities on the creation of an ensemble become more common. Several groups emerged, such as Contracello Duet (1993), Drumming (1999), Remix Ensemble (2000), OrchestrUtopica (2001), Ensemble 20/21 (2003), Síntese Grupo de Música Contemporânea (2006), Sond’Arte Ensemble (2007) and Performa Ensemble (2007), among others.

Our proposal intends to analyze the actual state of knowledge on Portuguese musical groups dedicated to the erudite contemporary music repertoire. After a study of the existing sources available that concern the history, we found that there were no consistent and in-depth studies on these groups. In this context, we will focus our presentation on their emergence history as well as relevant in the Portuguese music panorama. Simultaneously, we intend to present the future direction of our research regarding this theme.

Keywords: erudite contemporary music ensembles, erudite contemporary Portuguese music


Maria Inês Pires is a PhD student of Historical Musical Studies at Nova University of Lisbon She finished her bachelor’s degree in Saxophone and her master’s degree in Music Pedagogy in ESART (Castelo Branco). She studied at the PESMD Bordeaux Nouvelle-Aquitaine, in the saxophone and contemporary chamber music class of Marie-Bernadette Charrier. She won the Best Performer Award in the CRCB Internal Competition (2014), the 2nd Prize in the Cabral National Clarinet and Saxophone Competition (2014) and she was finalist in the Vitor Santos International Saxophone Competition (2014). She participated in the 17th and 18th World Saxophone Congress in Strasbourg and Zagreb. She premiered pieces by young Portuguese composers at the Monaco Electroacoustique Festival (2017 and 2019). She attended masterclasses with Jean-Marie Londeix, Claude Delangle, Vincent David, Lars Mlekusch, Marcus Weiss, Andrés Gomis, among others. Currently, she is part of Festival DME and Lisboa Incomum’s production team.