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Handwritten letter from Carlos Gomes (1885)

Handwritten letter from Carlos Gomes (1885)

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"This morning I found all the piano keys on the floor. What? How was it?"

Handwritten letter from Carlos Gomes to Vincenzo Appiani. One sheet, front and back, 4 pages and the envelope. In Italian. 13.6 cm x 21.2 cm. February 18, 1885, in Magianegh (Italy). Excellent perfect. Single piece.

Approximate translation from Italian to Portuguese

My dearest Vincenzo,

He had his ( ) along with another one of his very kind companion.

I also received L'ARCOLAIO from master Carlo Fummagalli, and I am asking Mrs. Elvira to give me that pair as a gift. Because I want to show Miss Raggi, from whom I hid the truth, that is, the existence of that song dedicated to her, so she did when I asked if Marenca's poetry had already been set to music.

I cannot understand the reason why Miss Raggi showed me that poetry already dedicated to her and set to music! Now I feel obliged to apologize to MC Fumagalli, but I don't know where to find him. Do you know where my rival ARCOLAIESCO lives? I don't believe he is related to Adolfo, at least judging by his distaff.

Now I feel significantly better from the rheumatism, but with weather like this I don't even dare go to Milan. I wait for the month when the sun appears to do the same as a lizard.

This morning I found all the piano keys on the floor. What thing? How it was? I can't remember more than yesterday, when the clock was turned off and I decided to warm up at the piano. Trying to beat the famous bilboquet and...punft...punft… I lost patience and went to lunch cursing the cold. I say “the cold” because it almost convinces me that the reason that prevents me from being able to not make mistakes with the keys is the cold itself. I have a lot of hope for this summer! So for the moment I have not been attacked or bound by the cold! Oh the cold! If the sun doesn't come out soon, I'll pick you up in Pernambuco and I'll bring you a little bottled piece.

Mimardi sent me the print proof of that camera yesterday, which is why I hope to have it ready. I run the risk that this year I won't be able to go to Brazil and that “O Escravo” will be shown in Italy before it is in its homeland. Goodbye for today, handshake to you wife and friend. A happy birthday kiss to Emilietta.

Always your true friend,


Carlos Gomes (1836 - 1896) is considered by many to be the greatest Brazilian opera composer. The genius of unstable temperament conquered Europe without leaving aside the themes of his nation, dealing with indigenism to the abolition of slavery in his works.

Born in 1836 into a humble family in the city of Campinas, in the interior of the state of São Paulo, music entered Gomes' life early. At a young age, he lost his mother, and soon began working with his brothers in the Banda Musical de Campinas, his father's creation to support the family. But what was a means of survival would become the first step for young Carlos to enter the world of music, and in a short time he was performing at dances, concerts and masses.

It didn't take long for his fame to reach Rio de Janeiro where the musician had the opportunity to perform for the royal family, an event that would transform his life. In 1863, Carlos Gomes left for Europe to study at the Milan Conservatory with the recommendations of the empress, Dona Tereza Cristina.

And so, the Brazilian composer gained the world, becoming known for his great works, but also for his irritable temperament, as can be seen in the letter he wrote to Vincenzo Appiani, famous Italian pianist and composer.

The thought-provoking letter provokes numerous questions. Who was, for example, Carlo Fummagalli the rival that Gomes talks about so furiously? The name of his execrated enemy did not go down in history, so, in a way, Carlos Gomes won, but it is still intriguing to imagine what such a man would have done to arouse the ire of the composer.

In his missive, Gomes also reveals precious details of his creative process, flooded with his stormy temperament, could it be that the piano keys found on the floor were broken by himself? Imagining him on a cold winter night composing operas and breaking instruments is a delight for the imagination.

Winter was not the composer's favorite season from São Paulo, who missed the sun so much that he wanted to pick it up in Pernambuco and take it bottled to the Old Continent. But the desire to travel to his country was not solely aimed at seeking the tropical heat. Gomes wanted to present his new opera “O Slave” in Brazil before showing it in Italy, due to its intrinsic connection to Brazilian history.

It is really interesting to get to know the backstage of the famous work by Carlos Gomes, which had its debut surrounded by controversies, such as the fact that “the slave” the protagonist changed from a black man to an indigenous man so as not to shock the audience of the 19th century. Finally , this great work by Gomes was presented in Brazil in 1889, months before the proclamation of the republic, crowning the air of change that was blowing in the country.

Composer, artist, Brazilian, Carlos Gomes synthesized many of the questions that bubbled up in Brazil in the effervescent time in which he lived. His works are a portrait of the nation and his legacy even today, after almost 2 centuries, remains current and provoking reflections.

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