Aged 18, Fernandez composed his first opera Rainha Moura, based on a popular Spanish novel of the 19th century. Initially his parents didn’t support his inclination towards music, but after an unexpected nervous collapse where he spent his recovery at home playing piano, he gained their approval in 1917 and he enrolled at the National Institute of Music.
In 1920 he gave his first concert where he performed Arabesca and Miragem and in 1922 Arabesca and Nocturnal were awarded prizes at the International Competition of the Society of Musical Culture in Rio de Janeiro (ICSM).
In the early 1930s the President of Brazil asked Luciano Gallet and Mário de Andrade to formulate a program to reform the official teaching of music. They were asked to ‘rescue’ Brazilian culture. Fernandez helped do this and it can be seen within his opera Malazarte which premiered in 1941. Fernandez wrote of the influences of national folklore and modernist language in his opera “I’ve done something very different from what has been done so far here. A Brazilian thing, very Brazilian. But of a well-understood Brazilianness, of course. For me, Brazilianism is the intimate meaning that every work of ours must have, this quality of being born from our land.” (Lorenzo Fernandez. In: Aquarone, Francisco. History of Brazilian music. Rio de Janeiro: Francisco Alves, 1944).
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