Composer from the city of Braga, Manuel Faria was born in 1916 and started his musical studies while in the seminary. He absorbed from an early stage models that were an alternative to harmony and composition canons, and successfully presented before academic and religious audiences his own pieces, considered ahead of his time.
In 1939, the archdiocese of Braga supported the young seminarian by sending him to the Pontificio Istituto di Musica Sacra in Rome. After World War II he managed to conclude his training in organ, Gregorian chant and sacred composition as a scholarship holder of the Institute of Higher Culture. Braga’s seminary awaited the return of the presbyter composer so that he could take up his duties as music teacher. However, still in 1945, Manuel Faria presented pieces composed by him, interpreted by the Radio Rome Choir. The concert was greatly appreciated by Italian music critics.
A great desire for new experiences and a visit to Paris on his back to Portugal made him become an admirer of 20th century French composers.
Manuel Faria was able to offer a spirit of renovation to the parochial environment of the north of the country. As he once stated, “before being liturgical, music as to be music”. He therefore rehearsed Gregorian chant at Braga’s cathedral, without ever having neglected composition, both of sacred music as well as chamber music. In 1949 the author of the “liturgical chants” prepared and conducted at the Palácio de Cristal in Porto a concert entirely dedicated to the presentation of his works, from the modern style motets to the choir and chamber orchestra pieces.
His music became known in Austria, a country where he lived for some time. His Missa em Honra de Nossa Senhora de Fátima (Mass in Honour of Our Lady of Fatima) was recorded by Radio Vienna in 1956. His music was also taken to Baía and Recife in Brazil by conductor Frederico de Freitas.
In 1961 Manuel Faria became a Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation scholarship holder and once more established himself in Italy in order to develop his studies in the field of composition and also with the purpose of making his work known.
Manuel Faria was responsible for the creation of the Sacred Music Week in Braga and of the New Sacred Music Magazine. He received in 1972 the First Prize at the Carlos Seixas National Competition.
As far as secular music is concerned, one must mention his pieces on Antero de Quental’s and Fernando Pessoa’s poetry. Manuel Faria also wrote a never performed opera in two acts on the 900th anniversary of Coimbra’s conquest from the Moors.