Vianna da Motta, José

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Vianna da Motta, José

Vianna da Motta, José, esteemed Portuguese pianist and pedagogue; b. Isle St. Thomas, Portuguese Africa, April 22, 1868; d. Lisbon, May 31, 1948. His family returned to Lisbon when he was a year old, and he studied with local teachers. He gave his first concert at the age of 13, then studied piano in Berlin with X. Scharwenka and composition with P. Scharwenka. In 1885 he went to Weimar, where he became a pupil of Liszt; also took lessons with Hans von Biilow in Frankfurt am Main (1887). He then undertook a series of concert tours throughout Europe (1887-88), the U.S. (1892-93; 1899), and South America (1902). He was in Berlin until 1915, then became director of the Geneva Cons. In 1919 he was appointed director of the Lisbon Cons., retiring in 1938. At the height of his career, he was greatly esteemed as a fine interpreter of Bach and Beethoven. He was also the author of many articles in German, French, and Portuguese; wrote Studien bei Bülow (1896), Betrachtungen über Franz Liszt (1898), Die Entwicklung des Klavierkonzerts (as a program book to Busoni’s concerts), essays on Alkan, critical articles in the Kunstwart, Klavierlehrer, Bayreuther Blätter,etc. He was a prolific composer; among his works are Die Lusiadenfor Orch. and Chorus; Sym.; String Quartet; many piano pieces, in some of which (e.g., the 5 Portuguese Rhapsodiesand the Portuguese dance Vito)he employs folk themes with striking effect. In 1951 the Vianna da Motta International Piano Competition was founded in Lisbon in his memory.


F. Lopes Graça, V. d.M.: Subsidios para una biographia (Lisbon, 1949).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire