Traces of the blue pencil: An approach to music criticism and censorship in Portugal

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Censorship and propaganda were central axes of the strategy of the Portuguese dictatorship known as the Estado Novo (1933-1974). Censorship of all publications was regulated by the Constitution in 1933 and deeply marked Portuguese society throughout the 20th century. In 1926, newspapers and magazines started to be examined by state censors, a measure introduced shortly after the military coup that ended the First Republic (1910-1926) and established the military dictatorship (1926-1933). The media operated in a climate of censorship, scrutiny of information, and propaganda. Censorship services had the power to cut magazine articles and news stories, temporarily suspend publications or shut them down completely. Self-censorship and preventative censorship also resulted from this coercive environment, which can be seen in examples of the ingress of the regime into the operation of newspapers and state control of information and opinion. Although there are studies about censorship of the press, and in relation to particular newspapers and/or journalists (for instance, Barros 2022, Carvalho 1999, Forte 2000), less is known about censorship of music criticism. One of the objectives of my Ph.D. dissertation is to understand the specific context of music criticism in Portugal in the period 1926-1945. In relation to this period, and the channels through which music criticism was practised, the question of censorship is key. How was music criticism affected by the establishment of state censorship services? Was music criticism censored, in the same way as magazine articles and news stories? If so, what or who agitated the censors? Are there signs of self-censorship by music critics and newspaper editors? This article addresses these questions through an analysis of selected cases of censorship in music criticism in the Portuguese press. The aim is to contribute to knowledge about press censorship during the Estado Novo regime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-67
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Music Criticism
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Music criticism
  • Censorship
  • Estado Novo (Portugal)
  • Periodical press
  • History of Music


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