Son of the great painter António Carneiro and Rosa Queiroz Costa, Cláudio Carneyro was born on 27 January 1895, in Rua do Bonfim, Porto.
He started studying the violin at 15 with Carlos Dubini. The composition studies began in Porto with the French professor Lucien Lambert. The teacher encouraged him to continue his work in Paris where, for two years, he joined the class of Charles Widor.
In 1921 he became a solfeggio teacher at the Porto’s Conservatório de Música. Two years later, the Paris opening of his "Prelúdio, Corale Fuga", by the Colonne Orchestra, led by the maestro Gabriel Pierné, would persuade him to dedicate himself totally to composition.
In 1926 he won a scholarship of the Portuguese government and left for the United States of America where he remained for two years. In Hartford, Connecticut, he married the American violinist Katherine Hickel, who gave him a daughter, Ana Maria, still living there.
Meanwhile, the Orpheon Portuense granted him the Moreira de Sá Prize (1933) and the Portuguese government awards him the medal of "Oficial de Santiago de Espada" (1934).
In 1935 he works in Paris with Paul Dukas as a scholarship owner of the Instituto de Alta Cultura. Three years later he starts teaching composition at the Porto’s Conservatório de Música. After 1956 he is also the school’s principal.
In 1941 he is appointed musical counsellor of the radio station Emissor Regional do Norte.
Cláudio Carneyro died on 18 October 1963 after a cerebral haemorrhage.