MUSIC, THE ARTIST-KING’S MUSE
Ferdinand II (1816-1885), of German and Hungarian origin, and related to the major European royal families, became one of the principal driving forces of the Romantic movement in Portugal owing to his eclectic culture and reforming spirit.
The Artist-King, as he would later be known, lived in Portugal for fifty years and made Sintra his home. He left his mark in some of its most iconic buildings. Being a widower for sixteen years, in 1869 he married Elise Hensler (1836-1929), an opera singer and a creative, sensitive woman, who received the title of Countess of Edla.
Ferdinand von Sachsen-Coburg-Koháry was a well-known music lover, and it was music that made him fall in love with an opera singer who he married against the will of the Portuguese royal family. He also kept a close link to the Teatro de São Carlos from the first time he was in Lisbon. He was an amateur opera singer and had lessons with the pianist and composer Manuel Inocêncio dos Santos (1802-1887) every Saturday, when he would rehearse various arias and songs, and used to organise musical soirees where he also sang. There are accounts of many famous singers who sang in São Carlos and who would also attend these soirees. Both the Conde de Farrobo and prince D. Luís were regular guests. Interestingly, the opening of the opera season at São Carlos used to be on 29 October, which was Ferdinand’s birthday.
Ferdinand II had a very significant role in Portuguese music as he sponsored two of the most important nineteenth century composers and pianists, Bomtempo and Vianna da Mota.
Therefore, as a homage to Ferdinand II’s romantic muse - music - the 56th Festival de Sintra programme is dedicated to the Artist-King and the music that enveloped him in Portugal - opera, Romantic chamber music, music for the piano - the Romantic instrument par excellence, and finally the music of his Central-European origins.