Music at the Museum: harpsichordist Roberto de Regina says goodbye to the stage

At the age of 95, the greatest Brazilian harpsichordist Roberto de Regina said goodbye to the stage presentations at the opening of the Museum Music project – 200 Years of Independence, at the Brazilian Academy of Letters (ABL) theater in downtown Rio de Janeiro.

The concert, which brought together 200 people, began with a piece by the German organist, lutenist and composer Conrad Paumann, from the early Renaissance. The recital, on Thursday night (1st), continued with songs by Johann Sebastian Bach and Domenico Scarlatti.

“It was an event for me, really. Since I was young, I had a dream of playing at the Academy and by coincidence the manager who scheduled the concert was for the Academy. I was very happy,” he said in an emotional interview with Brazil Agency.

The interest in the harpsichord was evident in Roberto de Regina’s defense of his instrument during the recital: “I want to free the harpsichord from the taint of being old. More and more it is being used in concerts.”

Roberto de Regina, from Rio de Janeiro, is a doctor and practically self-taught in music, prefers to perform without sheet music. “I am self-taught, I have never taken a music course. The score is a record of the piece so that it will remain for posterity. When we play with sheet music, even with all the effort, we are reading notes. But when we decorate there we go after the music, so I never play with sheet music”, he said.

His involvement with Baroque music is so great that, in the search for greater proximity to the music of Bach, of which he is one of the greatest Brazilian specialists, he came to build the instrument.

“My real passion is the music of that baroque period. The harpsichord appeared 400 years before the piano was invented and in this space of time the greatest musical geniuses of all time were born, not to mention the name of Bach, who was the greatest of all, he was born in 1685. I played a piano domestic, but he didn’t really translate the character that this music has. I needed a temporal witness which was the harpsichord. The Baroque period was the most glorious in the history of music.”

The awakening to this feeling was the first time he was able to attend a Baroque concert. “When I heard a song at a concert they took me to, it clicked. I really felt an emotional shock and I became interested and researched. Today I am very happy to have that in my life”, he says, referring to Bach’s Cantata Nº 4, the song that impressed him: “It changed my life”.

The farewell to the stage, however, does not mean the total departure from music. Roberto de Regina will continue with recitals at Capela Magdalena, built on his farm in Guaratiba, on the west side of Rio. Since 1991, Roberto de Regina has preserved the atmosphere of the presentations with a period setting.

It was also on the site that the harpsichordist kept a workshop to build the instrument. Faced with international fame, handcrafted instruments are highly sought after in the market.

“In my time, to have a harpsichord I had to import it, pay the price, taxes and transport, and it was prohibitive. I was invited to a course in Boston and there I had one of the most famous harpsichord-building studios. I went to work and when I got there they took me to work, because there was a lack of workers. I stayed for almost a year. I went through all the phases of construction and brought it here to Brazil. A lot of people wanted a harpsichord, so I made a hundred of them. Now I’ve stopped and I’m just playing”.

According to ABL, in 2017 Roberto de Regina launched the book Roberto de Regina – Life and Work or Memoirs of a Sergeant of Malice. “The title is intentionally double so that the reader can choose what they think is best”, highlighted the ABL.

Roberto de Regina recorded and published 16 concerts on YouTube that are part of the Johann Sebastian Bach Concertos for solo harpsichord project that he presented on Sundays. Next year, the release of the documentary is planned. the harpsichordistwhich tells the story of the musician and is directed by Luiz Eduardo Ozório in a production by OZ Filmes.

The harpsichordist Roberto de Regina, 95, gives a farewell show at the Brazilian Academy of Letters, in the Music at the Museum - 200 Years of Independence of Brazil project.

The harpsichordist Roberto de Regina, 95, gives a farewell show at the Brazilian Academy of Letters, in the Music at the Museum - 200 Years of Independence of Brazil project.

The harpsichordist Roberto de Regina, 95, performs a farewell show at the Academia Brasileira de Letras – Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil


The presentations of the Music at the Museum – 200 Years of Independence of Brazil project, which began this Thursday (1st) will continue throughout the month of September with programming for another 20 free recitals. In addition to Rio, there will be concerts in Portugal on the 22nd, 26th and 28th; and in Austria on the 29th.

The Música no Museu project was created in 1997 and became the largest classical music series in Brazil. In its 25 years of history, it has already held concerts in Brazil that brought together around 2,500 musicians. During this period, the project received an audience of over 1 million people.

Since 2006, it has been performed in other countries, taking Brazilian music to Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, USA, Chile, Argentina, Morocco, India, Vietnam, Australia and Lebanon.

The project director, Sérgio da Costa e Silva, announced that Música no Museu was recognized by the City Council of Rio de Janeiro as a cultural and intangible heritage of the city.

The article is in Portuguese

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