António Pinho Vargas

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António Pinho Vargas was born in Vila Nova de Gaia in 1951. Composer, musician and essayist. Graduated in History from the Faculty of Letters of the University of Porto. Piano degree from the Porto Conservatory (1987) and Masters in Composition from the Rotterdam Conservatory (1990). Professor of composition at Lisbon Superior School of Music since 1991 and Researcher at the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra since 2006, where he finished his PhD in Sociology of Culture (2010) with the dissertation “Music and Power”.

Commander of the Infante D. Henrique Order awarded by the President of the Portuguese Republic (1995). Municipal Medal of Cultural Merit of Vila Nova de Gaia (1998) and the Medal of Honour by SPA (2015). Winner of the José Afonso Prize for the album Solo II (2012), 11th University of Coimbra Award (2012) and the SPA Autores Prize for his work Magnificat for Choir and Orchestra (2014).

António Pinho Vargas recorded 10 jazz albums as composer, pianist and band leader including Solo (2008), Solo II (2009), and Improvisações (2011). The Naxos label released Requiem & Judas (2014) and re-released Os Dias Levantados and Verses and Nocturnes (2015). Warner Music has also re-released Monodia (1995-2015) and the CD Magnificat – De Profundis in 2017.

He has composed four operas, five oratorios, 14 orchestral pieces, 8 ensemble pieces, 26 chamber works, eleven pieces for soloists and five film scores. His most recent works include Requiem (2012), Magnificat (2013), De Profundis (2014), Violin Concert (2015) Viola Concert (2016) Sinfonia (subjetiva) (2019) and Oscuro (2022).

Author of the books Sobre Música: ensaios, textos e entrevistas (Afrontamento, 2002) and Cinco Conferências sobre a História da Música do Século XX (Culturgest, 2008) and Música e Poder: para uma sociologia da ausência da música portuguesa no contexto europeu (Almedina, 2011).

António Pinho Vargas was born in Vila Nova de Gaia, in August 1951.

He collaborates with A Grelha, a rock group from Porto. In 1970 he founded, with Carlos Zíngaro and Jorge Lima Barreto, the Conceptual Music Association.

With Lima Barreto and Artur Guedes he is part of the Anar Jazz Trio. With Artur Guedes, José Nogueira and Pedro Cavaco he formed Abralas (1975/77).

He graduated in History from the Faculty of Arts of Porto. He was a History teacher in 1975 and 1976. He completed a Piano degree at the Porto Conservatory of Music. He faced the 70s with some personal difficulties due to the fact that he wanted to be a jazz musician.

He collaborates with the jazz group Araripa by João Heitor and José Eduardo. With this group he participated, in 1976, in the recordings of the album “Malpertuis” by Rão Kyao. He also appears on Rão Kyao’s album “Bambu”, released in 1978.

Still with José Nogueira he is part of the instrumental jazz-rock group Abralas (ex-Zanarp). The two musicians are also part of the first formation of Jáfumega. For some time he was part of Arte & Ofício with whom he recorded the album “Faces” in 1979. He left the group in 1982.

He joins Rui Veloso’s Banda Sonora with whom he records the album “Fora de Moda”.

In 1982 he was part of the Rão Kyao Quartet together with Mário Barreiros and José Eduardo. He participates in the recordings of Rão Kyao’s album “Ritual”. This year he attends courses taught by Emmanuel Nunes.

In 1983 he recorded his debut album, “Outros Lugares”. The Quartet that recorded the album also included Mário Barreiros, Pedro Barreiros and José Nogueira.

In 1984 he collaborated again with Rão Kyao, participating in the recordings of the album “Estrada da Luz”.

His second album, “Cores e Aromas”, was released in 1985. The Quartet that recorded the album is the same as that of his debut album.

In 1987, the album “As Folhas Novas Mudam de Cor” was released. The album sells more than 9,000 copies and reaches the top 10 in sales. That year he provided the soundtrack for the play “Hamlet”, by William Shakespeare, directed by Carlos Avilez. He goes to Holland, on a scholarship from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, to study composition with the composer Klaas de Vries.

In 1988 he composed the music for the film “Tempos Difíceis” by João Botelho for which he received the Portuguese Cinema Institute Award for best film music. He also created the soundtracks for the films “Uma Pedra No Bolso” (1988) and “Onde Bate o Sol” (1989) by Joaquim Pinto.

In April 1989, the album “Os Jogo do Mundo” was released. In addition to António Pinho Vargas, instrumentalists José Nogueira (saxophones), Mário Barreiros (drums), Quico (synthesizers), Pedro Barreiros (double bass) and Rui Junior (tablas and percussion) participated.

He graduated in Composition from the Rotterdam Conservatory in 1990. After his stay in the Netherlands he began to dedicate himself mainly to contemporary classical composition.

In 1991, the album “Selos e Borboletas” was released, which was nominated for the José Afonso Prize. This year he begins teaching Composition at ESM (Escola Superior de Música) in Lisbon. He works with Amália on a work that was never published due to a rights problem with the heirs of the poet Cecilia Meireles. He had other projects with the fado singer but they never came to fruition.

In 1993 he resumed his collaboration with João Botelho and Carlos Avilez, who composed the soundtrack for the film “Aqui na Terra” and the play “Ricardo II”, respectively.

That year he composed “Monodia-Quasi Un Requiem”, a composition for string quartet. The following year it is the turn of “Três Quadros para Almada” and “Nocturno\Diurno”.

The CD “Monodia”, recorded at Igreja da Cartuxa and RDP’s Studio A, was released in 1995 by EMI Classics. The edition was supported by Lisbon 94 – European Capital of Culture. This year he was decorated, by the President of the Portuguese Republic, with the Commendation of the Order of Infante D. Henrique.

He is the author of the work “Nove Canções de António Ramos Rosa”, for voice and piano.

In 1996 the album “A Luz e a Escuridão” was released. The album features singer Maria João and saxophonist José Nogueira.

He makes the soundtrack for the film “Cinco Dias, Cinco Noites” by José Fonseca e Costa. For this soundtrack he received the award for best music at the Gramado Film Festival (Brazil).

In 1996, at Culturgest, he presented the chamber opera “Édipo-Tragédia do Saber”, based on texts by Pedro Paixão.

EMI-Valentim de Carvalho released the collection “As Mãos, O Melhor de António Pinho Vargas” in 1998. The string quartet “Monodia – Quasi Un Requiem” was played by the Quarteto Artis from Vienna and included on the CD “Quartet Portuguese Chamber Music” by Arditti String (Etcetera Records edition).

He writes the opera “Três Versos de Caeiro” and “Os Dias Levantados”, an opera in two acts about the 25th of April, with a libretto by Manuel Gusmão.

The CD “Versos” was published in 2001 by Strauss, with the support of IPAE. He is also the author of the music for the film “Who Are You?” by João Botelho.

In November 2001, he traveled to London where he was one of the participants in the

stival Atlantic Waves 2001. The compilation “Exploratory Music from Portugal 01” includes “3rd Movement from “Trés Versos de Caeiro”.

Culturgest organized an António Pinho Vargas Festival, between February 16th and March 6th, 2002, with most of his work. The documentary “António Pinho Vargas, notes from a composer” was made, commissioned by Culturgest, LxFilmes and RTP, directed by Manuel Mozos and Luís Correia. The work “Judas”, the result of a commission from the Sacred Music Festival, was premiered in Viana do Castelo.

Afrontamento published, still in 2002, the book “Sobre Música” with seven essays and a collection of texts and interviews.

He is one of the founding members of the artistic direction of OrchestrUótica formed in 2003. He also participates in the album “Movimentos Perpétuos-Música Para Carlos Paredes” with the theme “Dois Violinos para Carlos Paredes”.

In February 2004, the CD was released with the recording of the opera “Os Dias Levantados”, performed on March 6, 2002, at Culturgest.

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