CARLOS DE SEIXAS (1704 - 1742)
Born in Coimbra in 1704, José Antonio Carlos de Seixas succeeded his father, Francisco Vaz, at the age of fourteen as organist of Coimbra Cathedral, moving in 1720 to Lisbon, where, from the age of sixteen, he served as organist to the Chapel Royal and the Patriarchal Cathedral. His early achievement both as a virtuoso keyboard performer and as a composer established him as one of the most important musicians in Portugal, and his eminence won him a knighthood from King John V in 1738. Like his contemporary in
Portugal, Domenico Scarlatti, he was prolific, not least in the production of keyboard music, with some seven hundred pieces to his credit. It has been suggested that the devastating earthquake of 1755 in Lisbon, thirteen years after the death of Seixas, may have led to the destruction of many of his works. Very little of his choral music, of which there was presumably some quantity, in view of his position, survives, and no autographs of his keyboard sonatas, which are preserved in copies only. A collection of eighty sonatas was edited by the late Macario Santiago Kastner, a scholar to whom the study of earlier Portuguese music is greatly indebted.