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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? What was it like?"

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

Approximate translation from Italian to Portuguese

My dearest Vincenzo,

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

I also received l'ARCOLAIO from master Carlo Fummagalli, and I'm asking Mrs. Elvira to give me that pair. Because I want to show Miss Raggi, from whom I hid the truth, that is, the existence of that song dedicated to her, as she did at the moment I was asking if Marenca's poetry had already been put to music.

I cannot understand the reason why Miss Raggi showed me that poem 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's related to Adolfo, at least judging by his distaff.

Now I feel significantly better from my rheumatism, but with the weather like this I won't even risk going to Milan. I wait for the month when the sun comes out to do the same thing as a lizard.

This morning I found all the piano keys on the floor. What thing? How it was? I don't remember more than yesterday, when the clock turned off, and I decided to warm up at the piano. Trying to beat the famous bilboquet and...punft...punft... I lost my 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 make mistakes with the keys is the cold itself. I have a lot of hope for this summer! So, at the moment I have not been attacked or tied up by the cold! Oh the cold! If the sun doesn't come out soon, I'll pick it up in Pernambuco and 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'm in danger that this year I won't be able to go to Brazil and that “The Slave” will be presented in Italy before in its homeland. Goodbye for today, a handshake for you, wife and friend. A happy birthday kiss for Emilietta.

Always your true friend,


Carlos Gomes (1836 - 1896) is considered by many to be the greatest Brazilian opera composer. The genius with an unstable temperament conquered Europe without leaving aside the themes of his nation, dealing with indigenism and 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, created by his father to support the family. But what was a means of survival would become the first step towards young Carlos' entry into the world of music, and before long he was performing 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 in front of 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 conquered 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, the famous Italian pianist and composer.

The instigating letter provokes countless questions. Who was, for example, Carlo Fummagalli's rival that Gomes speaks so furiously about? 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 composer's ire.

In his missive, Gomes also reveals precious details of his creative process filled 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 playing instruments is a treat for the imagination.

Winter was not the favorite season of the São Paulo composer, 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 the sole intention of seeking tropical heat. Gomes wanted to present his new opera “The Slave” in Brazil before showing it in Italy, due to its intrinsic connection to Brazilian history.

The famous work by Carlos Gomes had its premiere surrounded by controversies, such as the fact that “the slave” protagonist changed from a black man to an indigenous man so as not to shock the 19th century audience. Finally, this great work was presented at the Brazil, in the year 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 issues 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, continues to be current and provoking reflections. His cards rarely appear on the market.

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