Antonio Carlos Gomes, an Afro-Brazilian and one of the most acclaimed 19th century operatic composers in the world, was born in Campinas, Sao Paulo, on July 11, 1836.
Early on, Gomes showed a love for music and his older brother José Pedro de Sant'Ana Gomés, also a composer, mentored him before Gomes became the protégé of Emperor Dom Pedro II. Pedro gave Gomes the opportunity to attend the Musical Conservatory of Rio de Janeiro.
After graduating with honors, Gomes produced his first two operas. The emperor then gave him money to study in Italy. He soon became widely-known in the European art world with his most famous opera, Il Guarany, performed in 1870 at the Milan Scala Theater.
Gomes continued performing and writing music in Italy and married pianist Adelina Peri. He returned to Brazil, where he lived until his death on Sept. 16, 1896, because of economic difficulties.
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(Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Public Domain)