The year 2004 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Portugese composer Jose Antonio Carlos de Seixas (1704-1742).
Carlos Seixas was immensely popular during his lifetime, but has unfortunately, outside his native country, never been accorded the attention given, for example, to his contemporary Domenico Scarlatti. Seixas and Scarlatti both held the position of music master at the Royal Court of King John V.
Seixas was an extremely prolific composer. He had written over 700 works before his death from rheumatic fever at the age of thirty-eight. His compositions include 114 sonatas para instrumento de tecla (keyboard instruments), which would have been harpsichord, organ, clavichord and fortepiano. Unfortunately, many of them were lost in the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755.
Seixas himself was an accomplished organist. When only 14, he was appointed Cathedral organist in Coimbra, succeeding his father, Francisco Vaz, who had just died.
Although he never left his native Portugal, Seixas’ works contain more originality and international spirit than those of his more-traveled countrymen. His Overture in D Major for Orchestra shows the influence of French style, while his Symphony in B Flat for String Orchestra leans toward the Italian. Seixas succeeded in combining the Italian and the French with a nostalgic atmosphere that is quintessentially Portugese.