Rodrigo Leão, his full name Rodrigo Costa Leão Muñoz Miguez (Lisbon, October 15, 1964) is a Portuguese musician and composer. He became known in the bands Sétima Legião and Madredeus.

The son of a civil engineer and his wife, a maid, Rodrigo was the oldest of four brothers, with differences of two to three years. He lived in Bairro das Estacas, in Lisbon. Until the 3rd grade he attended Colégio Moderno, but he completed the 4th year at the official school, in Bairro de São Miguel and preparatory at the Eugénio dos Santos school.

He was co-founder of Sétima Legião in 1982 and in 1985, together with Pedro Ayres Magalhães and Gabriel Gomes, he created Madredeus.

He is the author of the soundtrack for a film by Manuel Mozos. He released his first solo album in 1993 and the activities of the group Sétima Legião were suspended. In 1994 he left Madredeus. As a solo artist, he released the works Mysterium (1995, EP) and the album Theatrum (1996).

He begins to explore the combination of his classical-modern compositions with more traditional song forms and instrumentation, with the presence of singers such as Lula Pena or Adriana Calcanhotto on the Alma Mater CD and corresponding tour.

Guests also include Sónia Tavares and Nuno Gonçalves from The Gift, and Rui Reininho from GNR, who participated in the recording of their live album entitled Pasión.

The Alma Mater album and the musician himself received two important public recognition titles, Album of the Year (DN+ Awards) and Artist of the Year (Blitz Awards).

In 2004 he released the CD Cinema, considered by the editor of the American magazine Billboard to be one of the best albums released that year. Guests such as Rosa Passos, Beth Gibbons and Ryuichi Sakamoto, among others, participated in this work.

In 2006, a retrospective look at his career was launched with the album O Mundo [1993-2006], adding six new songs.

In 2007 he composed the original soundtrack for the documentary series Portugal, Um Retrato Social, directed by António Barreto for RTP. Based on the 18 songs on the album, the national tour Os Portugueses appears.

He shares with Sérgio Godinho the responsibility for the soundtrack of the television series Ecuador,[4] which contains original themes and themes from previous works (Alma Mater, O Mundo [1993-2006], Portugal, Um Retrato Social) or forthcoming year (The Mother).

In 2009, the album A Mãe (2009) was released together with the Cinema Ensemble, created in the meantime.

In 2010 he conducted a concert at the Museu do Oriente. A new edition of Ave Mundi Luminar is released, containing the extra EP In Memoriam.

In 2011, the album A Montanha Mágica was released.

In 2012, “Songs (2004-2012)” was released, the compilation album that brings together the songs he composed in English.

Rodrigo Leão’s career is unique and extremely rich, being linked to some of the most important moments of the post-1980 Portuguese music scene. Rodrigo sees it almost like a film or a book with several chapters, but always with a connection between them. He explains to us that his ways never changed and that there are things that tend not to change: «even at the beginning of the Seventh Legion he did things that I still repeat today», he explains, to reinforce the idea of a continuity that his music transports.

Sétima Legião was a breath of fresh air and modernity in the Portuguese music scene when it emerged in 1982 by Rodrigo, Pedro Oliveira and Nuno Cruz. «The Sétima Legião translated the influences not only of Manchester, but also of Galicia, for example, and in that perhaps we were different», says, retrospectively, the composer. The group’s debut took place with the single «Glória», a major classic in our music that contained lyrics by Miguel Esteves Cardoso.

In 1984, the large-format debut took place, with the album A Um Deus Desconhecido, on the Fundação Atlântica label by Miguel Esteves Cardoso and Pedro Ayres Magalhães, then from Heróis do Mar. «My favorite Sétima Legião album? Maybe “A Um Deus Desconhecido”», explains Rodrigo: «It was made with António Pinheiro da Silva, a sound engineer who I respect a lot and it is an album that already had a cinematic side expressed in the instrumentals», says the composer, reinforcing, once again, the idea that everything in your career is interconnected. Rodrigo also released the albums Mar D’Outubro (87), De Um Tempo Ausente (89), O Fogo (92), Auto de Fé (94) and Sexto Sentido (99), milestones in a career that knew how to balance the favors of public and critical respect.

In 1986, in parallel with the Sétima Legião, Rodrigo Leão and Pedro Ayres Magalhães began a new adventure that would have profound international repercussions: the Madredeus. From bassist in Sétima Legião, Rodrigo became keyboardist in Madredeus and soon another connection was established with the future of his solo career. In December 1987, Madredeus debuted with the double «Os Dias da Madredeus», recorded at the Ibérico theater in Xabregas. The album pointed to a new direction for Portuguese music and it didn’t take long to gain public favor. The dream of expansion began to come true with trips to Bologna, North Korea, revealing the project’s universalist vocation.

Existir (90) and Lisboa were Madredeus’s next albums and the deepening of a successful career. Rodrigo Leão, however, continued to reveal an unusual artistic restlessness and went solo in 1993 with Ave Mundi Luminar, the first example of his particular vision of the world, with participations by Teresa Salgueiro, Francisco Ribeiro and Gabriel Gomes, from Madredeus. Rodrigo would record O Espírito da Paz (94) and Still (95), two albums recorded in parallel in the same sessions. He would still leave, however, after Rodrigo had left Madredeus to dedicate himself to his solo career. It is also the album that Rodrigo chooses as his favorite from the work he did with Madredeus: «It was Wim Wenders who chose those songs that really went down well in the film», he explains.

With his solo debut, Rodrigo Leão began to explore new sounds, approaching some contemporary music, minimalism and starting a journey that has already led him to many sounds: «In my music», says the composer, «there has been Michael Nyman to tango and French music». In albums such as Ave Mundi Luminar (1993), Mysterium (1995), Theatrum (1996) and Alma Mater (2000), the presence of ancient Latin texts performed by lyrical voices clearly indicated the universe to which Rodrigo Leão wanted to send his listeners. But even in more recent works, such as the live album Pasión (2002) and Cinema (2004), this very unique path of Rodrigo Leão, full of mysticism, is also felt.

The contemplative and introspective nature of some of this great Portuguese composer’s music is undeniable and even in the career retrospective that is O Mundo (1993-2006): The best of Rodrigo Leão, published internationally at the end of 2006, the division of the repertoire is notable. of this composer between the more “worldly” songs, close to tango, film music or bossa nova – as happens with «A Casa» to which Adriana Calcanhoto gave voice on the album Alma Mater – and the more spiritual pieces that occupy the second CD of this retrospective. The international exposure guaranteed him the most praise: Pedro Almodóvar, for example, had no doubts and described Rodrigo Leão as «one of the most inspired composers in the world». Alliances with internationally renowned names, such as Beth Gibbons and Ryuichi Sakamoto who participated in Cinema, are also proof of the reach of Rodrigo Leão’s music and its universal appeal.

In 2007, Rodrigo gave music to the images of the excellent television series Portugal – Um Retrato Social and toured several rooms in our country with this music that helped compose our sociological portrait. This was followed by the challenge of those responsible for the largest fiction series ever produced in Portugal, «Equador», for which Rodrigo composed some evocative pieces that are now highlights of his concerts, as they are linked to some of the most exciting moments in the unfolding of this history.

In the middle of his solo career, Rodrigo still had time to launch the project Os Poetas, which explored the universe of words, poetry and emotions with the album Entre Nós e as Palavras, from 1997.

In 2009, a new chapter opened in the story, still in development, of Rodrigo Leão. It is called A Mãe and it is an ambitious work with important participations such as Neil Hannon, the man from Divine Comedy, who gives voice to « Cathy», Stuart A. Staples from Tindersticks who appears in «This Light Holds So Many Colors» or Melingo, the great ambassador of the new Argentine tango who appears in «No Sè Nada».

«The Cinema Ensemble», explains Rodrigo, «participates much more in this album. Ana Vieira sings five or six songs and in two of them she even helped me compose the vocal phrases. It is completely integrated. And all the other elements, like Celina da Piedade, for example, reveal new facets, being completely delivered». «The new songs», he continues, «were composed on the move, with different windows on the world, which allowed me to explore different emotions, different perspectives».

Rodrigo confesses that he got used to including in his luggage a pair of headphones, a computer and a small keyboard with which he wrote the stories that are now told in the new record that he describes as «more introspective, nostalgic and melancholic». «Despite having some happier themes, this is an album that I made very inward-looking,» assures Rodrigo, who includes in this work highlights from his trips to the United States, Italy or India: «I recorded street sounds, children playing, birdsong. Sometimes even just with your cell phone”, he adds.

The Cinema Ensemble continues to count on Celina da Piedade, Ana Vieira, Viviena Tupikova, Carlos Tony Gomes, Bruno Silva, Luís Aires and Luís San Payo, an unbeatable team both in the studio and on stage, a place where they are used to starting out.” bravos” and incessant applause with the music he performs, which sounds almost magical.

In 2009, Rodrigo Leão continues to write his personal story with music that increasingly establishes him as an exceptional composer. The following year, Ave Mundi Luminar was reissued.

2011 was the year of The Magic Mountain. In this album, Rodrigo explored the emotions associated with all the memories that he himself evoked by taking up instruments that had long been outside his sphere as a performer, such as the aforementioned basses or guitars, or even the drums. In addition to Rodrigo resorting to other instruments, a gesture followed by Viviena Tupikova or Celina da Piedade, who broaden the timbral palette by using instruments such as the metallophone or the synthesizer, it is also worth highlighting the contributions of guests such as Pedro Wallenstein (double bass) , João Eleutério (guitars), Miguel Nogueira (musician from Quinteto Tati who plays guitar here), Rui Vinagre (on Portuguese guitar) or Tó Trips (guitarist from Dead Combo). This album is also punctuated by the important participation of Scott Matthew, the voice of the beautiful «Terrible Dawn», Thiago Petit, who sings in «O Fio da Vida» and also Miguel Filipe, voice of Novembro who closes the trip with his performance in «The Hibernaut».

A Montanha Mágica, which went directly to first place on the national sales chart in the week of release, features a different line-up than previous albums. In addition to occasional guests, only a string trio can be heard – Viviena Tupikova, Bruno Silva and Carlos Tony Gomes on violin, viola and cello, respectively – and Celina da Piedade’s accordion.

At the end of 2012 Rodrigo Leão edited Songs (2004-2012). Conceived as the first step towards a possible trilogy that, at the same time, reviews material already released and anticipates new paths, Songs (2004-2012) brings together songs sung in English that have punctuated Rodrigo Leão’s discography since Cinema.

The voices of Sónia Tavares (The Gift), Ana Vieira, Beth Gibbons (Portishead), Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy), Stuart A. Staples (Tindersticks), Scott Matthew and Joan as Policewoman have given a universal character in the last decade to the music of Rodrigo Leão through the poetic use of English in themes that marked the editorial adventures Cinema (2004), A Mãe (2009) and A Montanha Mágica (2011).

Songs (2004-2012) starts exactly from this idea of a universalist vocation and brings together three themes from Cinema – «Lonely Carousel», «Deep Blue» and «Happiness» -, as well as many others from A Mãe – «Cathy», «Sleepless Heart» and «This Light Holds So Many Colors» -, one from The Magic Mountain – «Terrible Dawn» – and three unreleased ones. The new songs feature the collaboration of Scott Matthew, who worked for the first time with Rodrigo Leão on his previous record, A Montanha Mágica, and Joan As Policewoman, with whom the Portuguese composer collaborates for the first time.

In 2013 he composed the soundtrack for the film The Butler.

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