Frederico de Freitas (1902-1980)

Ref. ava161585




Alfonso Benetti


The Bagatelas for piano by Frederico de Freitas consist of 10 short pieces, probably composed between the 20th and 24th of September, 1953. Mainly characterized by melodic simplicity and rhythmic-harmonic exploration, “the work is guided by the use of traditional elements, namely in pieces no. 5 (Allegretto in the popular style), no. 7 (Quasi allegro with the indication piano and graceful in the style of a rustic dance), [and] no. 9 (Rogal funeral song)”?. The Bagatela no. 5 is clearly inspired by the Fandango Ribatejano – a typical dance from the Ribatejo region, Portugal (the same characteristics can be observed in the second movement of the Sonata for Violin and Cello by Frederico de Freitas – Scherzo Pittoresco). The sixth Bagatelas’ indication Allegro truanesco is probably allusive to the popular Carnaval celebrations?. With its rhythmic pattern and melodic contour, Bagatela no. 7 was probably inspired by traditional Portuguese dances. In relation to the title of Bagatela no. 9, and according to the composer’s own definition, “rogal” refers to the songs sung during the execution of the condemned?.

In general, the work does not seem to have received much attention in the first 20 years following its composition: the only reference to the work in the composer’s letters consists of a list of his works for piano written in 1978; in the same way, the work does not appear in any concert program of the composer’s archives (which are held at the Library of the University of Aveiro), and neither are there any records of performances or recordings of the work during this period. From 1973, the work gained some relevance when it was included in the official piano program of the conservatories of Portugal? – which indicates the Bagatelas nos. 1, 2, 5 and 7 for the 5th and 6th years, Bagatela no. 4 for the 7th and 8th years and the 2nd year of the third-level courses, and the Bagatelas no. 8 and 10 for the 3rd year of the third-level course. However, more than 50 years after its composition, the work is not yet included in concert programs and has not been recorded.

Referred by Hinson and Roberts¹? as a work that is “short, varied [with] a mixture of styles,” the Bagatelas by Frederico de Freitas fall in the typology of repertoire similar to the Kinderszenen Op. 15 by Schumann: a light and fluent work which is articulate, contrasting and formally rigorous, yet simple and intimate. The pieces possess the following titles and dates:

Bagatela no. 1 – Slowly (Porto, September 20th, 1953); Bagatela no. 2 – Allegro/staccato (Porto, September 20th, 1953);

Bagatela no. 3 – Largo/desolately (Porto, September 20th, 1953 – probably later revised in Porto or in Lisbon);

Bagatela no. 4 – Allegro molto leggiero (Porto, September 20th, 1953);

Bagatela no. 5 – Allegretto/in a popular style (Lisbon, September 23rd, 1953);

Bagatela no. 6 – Allegro truanesco [not specified / probably Lisbon, September 23rd, 1953];

Bagatela no. 7 – Quasi allegro/graceful, in the style of a rustic dance (on a trip from Porto to Lisbon, September 20th, 1953);

Bagatela no. 8 – Allegro vivo/quasi presto (Lisbon, September 24th, 1953);

 Bagatela no. 9 – “Rogal” – Funeral Song/largo [place and date not specified]; and

Bagatela no. 10 – Grotesque March/March Time (Lisbon, September 23rd/24th, 1953).



? André Vaz Pereira, “Works for Solo Piano and Piano with Violin or Cello by Frederico de Freitas: Sources, Contexts and Edition” (Doctoral Thesis,

Universidade de Aveiro, 2017), 104.

? The designation “truanesco” refers to the period of the “entrudo” and the “truão”, that is, the popular festivities of Carnival - which justifies the

jocular character of this Bagatela.

? According to the New Compact Dictionary of the Portuguese Language by António de Morais Silva (Lisbon: Editorial Confluência, 1992, pp.40)

the meaning of “rogal” consists of: “which contains pleas; which involves pleas. // Relative to the bonfire where corpses are burned. // Designative

of the songs that were sung in the auto-of-faith in which there was an execution of death sentence”.

? Official Piano Program According to the Program of the Piano Course from the National Conservatoire of Music (1973/74).

Consulted in 5th May 2017 at

¹? Maurice Hinson & Wesley Roberts, Guide to the Pianist’s Repertoire (Bloomington, Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2014), 397.