Ferrer Trindade

Born: 1917, Barreiro (Portugal)
Died: January 13th, 1999, Setúbal (Portugal)
Nationality: Portuguese

Eurovision record
Ferrer Trindade conducted just one Eurovision Song Contest entry: ‘Desfolhada Portuguesa’, with which Simone de Oliveira represented Portugal at the contest of 1969 in Madrid. This intricate ballad with Portuguese folk elements in the arrangement came second last. This bad result, added to the dissatisfaction of the Portuguese broadcaster with the voting system of the contest in general, led to the decision to withdraw from the 1970 festival.

Ferrer Trindade was born in Barreiro, near Setúbal, in 1917. During his childhood he discovered his penchant and talent for music and it was not long before he joined various amateur ensembles, such as the guitar group Os Timpanos and the band Os Franceses, where he learnt to play the clarinet.

He decided to enter the National Conservatory of Lisbon as an external student, earning a living with a daytime job, playing in bands during the evenings and studying music at night. He graduated from the conservatory, having followed courses in acoustics, music history, composition, piano, violin, and wind instruments. Amongst his teachers was Luís de Freitas Branco (1890-1955), perhaps the most important classical composer Portugal has ever produced. As a student, Trindade played the clarinet in the Portuguese Navy Band and later made his debut as a violinist in the Lisbon Philharmonic Orchestra.

After his graduation, Trindade formed an orchestra of his own, with which, in the 1940s, he performed in various Portuguese casinos, amongst which those in Estoril and Póvoa do Varzim. As such, he accompanied a great number of Portuguese and international artists, who performed in those casinos. He took up arranging as well, writing countless scores for his orchestra.

Trindade regularly tried his hand at composing songs, too, collaborating with various lyricists, such as Francisco Nicholson, Frederico de Brito, and Aníbal Nazaré. The most successful and lasting of Trindade’s compositions is without a shadow of a doubt the fado ‘Solidão’, which was performed by the legendary Portuguese singer Amália Rodrigues in the movie picture ‘Les amants du Tage’ (1955). It became one of Rodrigues’ most popular songs. It was not until much later, however, that Trindade’s composition was propelled to world fame. In 1987, another Portuguese singer, Anamar, recorded a new version of the song with different lyrics, released under the title ‘Canção do mar’. Six years later, in 1993, Dulce Pontes (who, by the way, had represented Portugal in the 1991 Eurovision Song Contest) recorded her interpretation of this version, this time however with a completely new, grandiose orchestration written by Ramón Galarza, and released it on her album ‘Lágrimas’. This album turned out to be an international best-seller, and ‘Canção do mar’ became the trademark for a remarkable revival of Portuguese folk and fado music around the globe in the 1990s. The Dulce Pontes version was part of the soundtrack of the Hollywood thriller ‘Primal Fear’ (1996). Later, many cover versions were released in several languages by artists such as Hélène Segara and Sarah Brightman. Ferrer Trindade lived long enough to witness the ‘second life’ of his composition.

Amália Rodrigues included several more songs by Trindade in her repertoire, such as ‘Nem as paredes confesso’. Other artists for which Ferrer Trindade composed songs, include Lenita Gentil and Adélia Pedrosa. Still as a composer, he won first prize in the 1968 Festival of Figueira da Foz with his song ‘Olhos de Veludo’, interpreted by Artur Garcia. Another of Trindade’s melodies, ‘Welvichia de ouro’, won the music festival of Luanda in Angola, which at that time was a Portuguese colony. He won the Grande Marcha Festival in Setúbal on no fewer than four occasions.

In 1956, during the days of the first experimental broadcasts of Portuguese television from the Feira Popular studios in Lisbon, Ferrer Trindade was the first in his country to conduct an orchestra on the TV screen. In the 1950s and 1960s, he was one of the most sought after musical directors for television and radio broadcasts, amongst which the popular radio entertainment programme Os Companheiros da Alegria, which ran from 1951 to 1969.

Trindade remained active as both a composer and conductor even in old age. He founded a new amateur orchestra in Setúbal, the Sociedade Musical Capricho Setubalense Band. He was awarded with various decorations: the Gold Medal of the Portuguese broadcaster for his merits as a composer, the Medal of Artistic Merit of the Setúbal province, and the Honorary Medal of the City of Setúbal in recognition of his career in music and his high artistic level. In 1999, Ferrer Trindade died in Setúbal of a bronchial infection, aged 81. In his native town of Barreiro, a street was named after him.

Ferrer Trindade in the Eurovision Song Contest
Ferrer Trindade was commissioned by RTP to be the musical director of the 1969 Grande Prémio TV da Canção, as the Portuguese Eurovision preliminaries were referred to in those days. For the first time since this competition was held (in 1964), some performers used the right to choose their own conductor, which is the reason why Trindade lead his orchestra during only eight of the ten participating songs, the other two maestros being Manuel Diamantino Viegas and José Mesquita. Trindade conducted the entries performed by Tereza Paula Brito, Madalena Iglésias, Duo Ouro Negro, Daniel, Lilly Tchiumba, Artur Garcia, Fernando Tordo and Simone de Oliveira. However, none of the arrangements of the participating songs were written by him. The orchestration to the winning song ‘Desfolhada’, performed by Simone de Oliveira, was penned by none other than Joaquim Luís Gomes, who had been Portugal’s conductor in the 1968 contest in London.

Trindade joined Simone de Oliveira at the Eurovision Song Contest in Madrid, where she gave an inspired performance of the song that had by then been renamed ‘Desfolhada Portuguesa’. Because in the Spanish orchestra which Trindade conducted, there was no Portuguese guitarist, this instrument was played on stage alongside De Oliveira by a Portuguese soloist. ‘Desfolhada Portuguesa’ came second last in a field of sixteen participating countries, scoring four points. Officials of RTP, the Portugal’s broadcaster, felt so enraged by this humiliation and the voting procedure in general, that it was decided upon to withdraw from the 1970 contest in Amsterdam.

Other artists on Ferrer Trindade
Paula Costa was involved with Trindade in the formation of the Sociedade Musical Capricho Setubalense Band: “Ferrer Trindade was a very dynamic person, but very demanding at the same time, and always willing to work with others. Our country has lost a brilliant musician, who, with his great compositions, carried Portuguese music beyond the borders of our country into the world.” (1999)

Links & sources
  • Various online newspaper articles, amongst others at www.setubalnarede.pt.
  • The best source on Portugal’s involvement in the Eurovision Song Contest, www.festivais.home.sapo.pt.
  • Unfortunately, no website on Ferrer Trindade exists.


Songs conducted
1969: Desfolhada Portuguesa