Fernando de Carvalho

Born: February 5th, 1913, Lisbon (Portugal)
Died: August 18th, 1967, Lisbon (Portugal)
Nationality: Portuguese

Eurovision record
Fernando de Carvalho was the first ever Portuguese conductor to appear on the Eurovision stage, leading the orchestra in the 1965 contest for Simone de Oliveira during her performance of ‘Sol de inverno’. This was to remain his only participation in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Studying at the National Conservatory in Lisbon, Fernando de Carvalho was taught by, amongst others, Luís de Freitas Branco (1890-1955), perhaps the most important classical composer Portugal has ever produced. During his relatively short life, De Carvalho wrote quite a stunning number of works, ranging from more than twenty operettas to over one-hundred revue songs; amongst those the complete score of ‘Cala o bico!’ (1954). Some of his songs were interpreted by the legendary fado queen Amália Rodrigues, most notably ‘Tudo isto é fado’ (lyrics by Aníbal Nazaré) and ‘Fui ao Baile’ (lyrics by Amadeu do Vale). From 1946 onwards, he was regularly commissioned to work as a conductor for Portuguese radio, and later television, broadcasts.

Fernando de Carvalho in the Eurovision Song Contest
In 1965, Fernando de Carvalho was commissioned by the Portuguese broadcaster to be the musical director of the Grande Prémio, as the preliminaries in Portugal were then referred to. He conducted all eight songs in the competition, to all of which he had, moreover, penned the original orchestration. The participating artists were António Calvário (three songs), Simone de Oliveira, Artur Garcia (each two songs) and Madalena Iglésias. The winning song was ‘Sol de inverno’, performed by Simone de Oliveira. De Carvalho also conducted this effort in the subsequent international Eurovision final, staged in Naples, Italy. It was Portugal’s second participation in the contest; because, however, the year before no conductor had been sent along with soloist António Calvário, Fernando de Carvalho became the first ever Portuguese conductor to perform on the stage of the Eurovision Song Contest.

The year after, in 1966, Fernando de Carvalho changed roles, this time participating in the Portuguese heats as a composer. Teaming up with lyricist Jerónimo Bragança, he submitted ‘Rebeldia’, a thrilling melody which is a lasting testimony to his composing talent. Performed by Madalena Iglésias, the song came third.

Other artists on Fernando de Carvalho
Jorge Costa Pinto played as a drummer in Fernando de Carvalho’s big band for some time in the 1950s: “It was special for me to join Fernando de Carvalho’s orchestra, as he had been a fellow-student of my father at conservatory in the 1920s. Maestro de Carvalho was a nice man as well as a very good conductor and composer. Some of the songs he wrote are very interesting; 'Rebeldia' is a good example - a fine ballad.” (2018)

Links & sources
  • The best source on Portugal’s involvement in the Eurovision Song Contest, www.festivais.home.sapo.pt.
  • Unfortunately, no website on Fernando de Carvalho exists.


Songs conducted
1965: Sol de inverno