Thursday, September 23, 2021

If you are down by the river in Tomar, you may come across an interesting pair of gentlemen.

Fernando Lopes-Graça and Fernando Araújo Ferreira’s Statues  
These statues were made by the Portuguese artist Rui Fernandes and the material used was cast metal, which was then painted in shades of green and bronze. Yet, strange as it may seem, the statues were produced in only three months and were placed in Jardim do Mouchão, in December 17th of 2006, to celebrate the centennial of Fernando Lopes-Graça.  

The statues portray Lopes-Graça and his childhood friend, Fernando Ferreira, engaged in a pleasant talk. They are sitting on a park bench, possibly, exchanging views and discussing different topics, like they used to do in life. A peculiar aspect of these statues is that they are sited on a bench with their backs turned to the river. Though this choice of posture may seem odd, it was adopted due to photographic reasons.

The two people represented were, and still are, very important to the city of Tomar. Fernando Lopes-Graça was born in Tomar in December 17 of 1906. He is considered a fine researcher and one of the best songwriters of the 20th century. He is the author of a vast number of essays on Portuguese music, but he is mostly known for his musical work, which include remarkable piano and orchestra pieces. However, he started his career working as a pianist in the theatre of Tomar.

From 1926 till 1974 Portugal was under a fascist regime, led by António de Oliveira Salazar. In 1945 PIDE (International Police and State Defense) was created, and one of its functions was to control and repress those who opposed the regime. As a major opponent to the regime, Lopes-Graça founded, in the 1930’s, the weekly republican newspaper A Acção (Action), which led to him being arrested, twice, by the PIDE.

Throughout his life Fernando Lopes-Graça was awarded lots of honors, music contests dedicated to him took place and street and buildings bearing his name populate Tomar. For example, the house where he was born is now the museum Fernando Lopes-Graça and, in Cascais, there is a high school named after him (he died in Cascais in November 27 of 1994).

As for Fernando (Nini) Ferreira, he was born in Tomar in October 29 of 1912 and died in November 6 of 1998. He graduated in pharmacy, and became an ecologist, a writer, a distinguished journalist, and an inspired poet.

His writings are essential to get to know the history and traditions of the people of Tomar. He devoted himself to the Festa dos Tabuleiros, which is a festival that only takes place every four years, and dates back to the festivities established by King D. Dinis and by his wife, Queen Isabel. It is also related to ancient custom of offering the first fruits of the harvest to the Gods and of celebrating the fertility of the soil. Until 1895 it was common to sacrifice a bull whose meat was then distributed to the needy. While these practices took place mostly in the small villages/parishes (freguesias) around Tomar, after 1950 they were joined together in one big celebration in the city. 

By Anabela Ribeiro & Sara Laranjeira

(Graduate students of Cultural Tourism Management at the Polytechnic Institute of Tomar – PORTUGAL)

For a mini series on the lead up to the Festa Dos Tabuleiros, Part 1,  Part 2, or for Part 3.  

For the official website click here.