Portuguese sounding blares from Liberalism to the advent of the Republic: Brass instruments construction in nineteenth-century Lisbon (1834-1890)

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Shortly after the definitive establishment of Liberalism in Portugal, Ernesto Haupt, holder of a privilege for the construction of musical instruments in Lisbon, suggested the useful foundation of a musical instruments workshop in the Arsenal do Exército (Army Arsenal) to supply the Portuguese regimental troops. Having obtained the consent of that State institution, Haupt hired Rafael Rebelo, a founder with his own workshop, to construct brass instruments. In the following decades, in a period in which the progressive spread of the brass instruments – especially the new valve models - to Lisbon of the main Parisian and Germanic firms was mediated by contractual agreements with Portuguese firms, national brass instruments – mainly Rebello’s french horns, trombones, keyed bugles and ophicleides - largely served the activity of the music professionals in the military bands and theatre orchestras, as well as the specialized music teaching at the Conservatório Real de Lisboa (Royal Conservatory of Lisbon). It was only a few years after the death of Francisco Santos Pinto, teacher of brass instruments at the Conservatory, and in the period of the extinction of the Army Arsenal’s instruments factory, that the long prerequisite for the purchase and reform of the instruments of the theatres’ orchestras and military bands was finally met. Once again, the contract for the supply of brass instruments to the Army was granted, in 1868, to a Portuguese, Custódio Cardoso Pereira, a founder from Oporto who had trained for several years in the main Parisian factories. During the next decades, amidst the acquisition of new – foreign and national -instruments for the use of theatre’s orchestras and for teaching in the Conservatory, Ernesto Vítor Wagner, Francisco Santos Pinto’s successor at the Conservatory, will have worked on a new valved horn model, for which he obtained a patent on c. 1879. For the early years of the last quarter of the century, mention also should be made to the (short-termed) commercial initiative of Luís Ferreira. This presentation aims to chronologically illustrate the enterprise of (the currently known) Lisbon’s nineteenth-century brass instruments makers, focusing on the adoption of foreign models and the creation of specific morphological innovations, as well as on the evaluation of the characteristics and capabilities of those “national” instruments, taking as sources some of the remaining specimens (fortunately kept in Portuguese museums) and several musical works and tutors for solo keyed bugle, trombone, ophicleide and horn composed and/or presented by Francisco Santos Pinto, Mathias Jacob Osternold and Ernesto Vítor Wagner.


ConferenceOrganological Congress, 7th International Scientific Meeting for the Study of Sound and Musical Instruments, ANIMUSIC
Congresso de Organologia. 7º Encontro Científico Internacional para o Estudo sobre Som e Instrumentos Musicais
CityCaldas da Rainha


  • Brass instruments
  • Lutherie
  • Military music
  • Wind band


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