Nexus Network Journal

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 383–404 | Cite as

The Church of Clérigos in Porto as a Baroque Musical Instrument

  • João Pedro Xavier


This paper considers the Clérigos ensemble in Porto—constituted by the Church, the Hospital, and its iconic Tower—as a powerful Baroque instrument. First, in addition to the ordinary chimes that commanded daily activities in the town, the architectonic and symbolic value of the Tower is underscored by the music produced by its impressive bells. Second, we have the actual heart of the instrument, the Church-Oratory: an acoustic box resulting from the oval plan of the nave and the corresponding dome, with two organs in its head (the apse), symmetrically placed with respect to the main longitudinal axis of the building. I will stress that this kind of space, brought to Portugal by architect Nicolau Nasoni in 1731, conveyed the idea of an Oratory and the musical performance associated with it, and that, significantly, the Oratorians were linked to the chosen plan for Clérigos.


Baroque architecture Portuguese architecture Architecture and music Oratory Oval plan Nicolau Nasoni 



I wish to thank Father Américo Aguiar (President of the Clérigos Brotherhood), Marco Brescia (organist and musicologist), Luís Soares Carneiro (architect), Cristina Fernandes (musicologist), Tiago Manuel da Hora (musicologist), Sofia Lourenço (pianist), Manuel Montenegro (architect), Rosana Orsini (soprano and musicologist), Maria João Pereira (astrophysicist), João Carlos Santos (architect), Rui Soares (organist), and Pedro Varela (architect). I am also deeply grateful to the reviewers, and especially to Arch. Kim Williams for the careful analysis of the text, all the suggestions and the English revision.


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Copyright information

© Kim Williams Books, Turin 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Estudos da Faculdade de ArquitecturaUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal

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