A Conductor's Guide for the Performance of the Mass in E-flat by Jose Joaquim Emerico Lobo de Mesquita
ABSTRACT The purpose of this document is to assist conductors and scholars in the preparation of a historically informed performance of the Mass in E-flat by Brazilian colonial composer José Joaquim Emerico Lobo de Mesquita (1746[?]-1805). This research seeks to assist musicians in three ways. First, it provides a context for understanding the history of sacred music in Brazil during the colonial era under Portuguese rule. Lobo de Mesquita’s Mass in E-flat was part of a large discovery of sacred works made in 1944 by German musicologist Francisco Curt Lange. Lange’s discovery prompted decades of ongoing research into Brazilian colonial music in general and Lobo de Mesquita’s Mass in E-flat in particular, with a special emphasis on the relationship between European sacred music traditions, the burgeoning culture of colonial Minas Gerais (where Lobo de Mesquita lived and worked), and the role of the “brotherhoods” that dominated the liturgical musical activities of the region. Second, this document includes research on the life and background of José Joaquim Emerico Lobo de Mesquita, with a particular emphasis on his musical background and training and the Iberian-Italian influences that almost certainly shaped his compositional output. It also looks briefly at Lobo de Mesquita’s other works to demonstrate that the Mass in E-flat is not only representative of his style, but also an outstanding example of Brazilian colonial repertoire. Third, this document examines the musical influences and original conditions in which the Mass in E-flat would have been performed. This examination identifies the vocal and instrumental practices used in the work, substantiates the use of keyboard continuo for a performance of the Mass, and considers the original performance context of the work and how that can be replicated in contemporary practice. It also offers contemporary accommodations for modern performances that can be made without compromising the integrity of the original work. Research for this document includes a review of the archival records from the Museum of Inconfidencia in Ouro Preto, Brazil (BR-OPmi), and an examination of a variety of secondary sources, including those by Curt Lange, in an attempt to demonstrate the Mass in E-flat’s importance from both a historical and an artistic perspective. Understanding its importance through increased knowledge of its performance practice and historical context will give twenty-first century conductors and musicians the ability to produce high quality performances of this work, thereby making it more accessible to contemporary audiences both in Brazil and elsewhere.