Joly Braga Santos was born in Lisbon in 1924 and died in this city in 1988, at the peak of his musical creativity. Having studied violin and composition at the National Conserva to ire of Lis bo n, he beco me a disci pie of Luis de Freitas Branco ( 1890-1955). After the war, he was able to go abroad, having studied conducting with Hermann Sherchen (Venice, 1948; Lugano, 1958) and Antonino Votto, and composition with Virgilio Mortari (Rome 1957-1961). Although he composed only six symphonies, he was undoubtedly the leading Portuguese symphonist of the 20th century.
ln his first works, the composer showed a modal tendency motivated by the desire to establish a connection between contemporary music and the golden period of Portuguese music: the Renaissance. We also find a melodie outline of the oldest folk songs of his country. Although he was not particularly interested in the Portuguese f o I k I ore, s t u d y i n g a n d e o m p os i n g a t t h e e o u n t ry h o me o f h is me n to r, i n t h e r u ra I s o u t h of Portugal - the Alentejo - he naturally accepted the influence of the very old local folklore that he considered "of mesmerizing originality and grandeur".
Following closely the works of post-war European composers, his style became, from 1960 onwards, more chromatic. The period of travei and the time he devoted to conducting provided him with what he described as a useful period of rest, decisive for the evolution of his musical style, toward increased chromaticism and less traditional form.
Joly Braga Santos lectured composition at the National Conservatoire of Lisbon, were he introduced the chair of Musical Analysis. He was also director of the Oporto Symphony Orchestra and one of the founders of the Portuguese Musical Youth. As music critic and journalist he produced a vast range of work for several Portuguese and foreign newspapers and journals.