Jorge Antunes was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1942. He began his musical studies in 1958 and in 1960 joined the National School of Music of the University of Brazil (current UFRJ), in violin class of Prof. Carlos de Almeida. In 1964 began the course of composition and conducting in the same school, studying with Henrique Morelembaum, José Siqueira and Eleazar de Carvalho. Simultaneously he followed the course of composition of Guerra Peixe in Pró-Arte of Rio de Janeiro.
In 1961, he began to take an interest in electronic music, at the same time that he entered the Physics course of the National Faculty of Philosophy (FNFi). After building several generators, filters, modulators and other electronic equipment, Antunes founded the Studio of Chromo-Musical Researches, standing out since then like precursor of the electronic music in Brazil. In 1962 he composed the first Brazilian work made exclusively with electronic sounds: Valsa Sideral. From 1966 he began to stand out as one of the most representative names of the Brazilian musical avant-garde and participates in several national and international festivals.
In 1965 he began important research on the correspondence between sounds and colors and composed a series of works called Chromoplastophonies, for orchestras, magnetic tapes, lights, also using the senses of smell, taste and touch.
In 1967 he was invited by the Villa-Lobos Institute of Rio de Janeiro to organize his Center for Music Research and was appointed Professor of Electroacoustic Music of the same Institute, where he taught composition classes and where he transferred his laboratory. Between 1965 and 1968 he participated intensively in the avant-garde artistic movements of Rio de Janeiro, presenting his Chromoplastophonies and their Ambientes (Environments) in plastic arts salons and integrating the precursor group of the so-called process-poem.
In 1969 he won a scholarship for postgraduate studies in composition at the Torcuato Di Tella Institute in Buenos Aires, as winner of the biennial competition that selected a composer from each country of the Americas to study at the Latin American Center for High Musical Studies. With the scholarship, Antunes worked for two years under the guidance of Alberto Ginastera, Luis de Pablo, Eric Salzman, Umberto Eco, Francisco Kröpfl and Gerardo Gandini. In 1969 and 1970 he worked at the Electronic Music Laboratory of the Torcuato Di Tella Institute in Buenos Aires.
In 1970 he continued his research at the Sonology Institute of Utrecht University with a Dutch government grant. In Utrecht he specialized in Computer Music under the guidance of Gottfried Michael König, Greta Vermeulen, Stan Tempelars and Fritz Weiland, working with the computer Electrologica X-8. Among his important works of this period is the Music for Eight Persons Playing Things.
In 1971/73 he won a scholarship from the French government for an advanced course at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales de l’ORTF, where he worked as a composer-trainee under the guidance of Pierre Schaeffer, Guy Reibel and François Bayle. In the same period, he began his PhD in Musical Aesthetics at the Université de Paris VIII, with Daniel Charles as his advisor.
In June of 1973 Antunes was invited by the University of Brasília to direct the Course of Musical Composition in the Department of Music, where he was a full professor until 2011, when he retired.
At the University he reorganized his old Electronic Music studio with professional equipment, and founded the GeMUnB (Musical Experimentation Group), a group of eight musicians specializing in contemporary music and live-electronics who toured Europe in concerts in 1975.
In 1976/77 Antunes had another long stay in Paris with support from the University of Brasilia and a new grant from the French government to complete his doctoral thesis Son Nouveau, Nouvelle Notation.
Between 1978 and 1989 he developed intense cultural and political activity in Brasilia, together with popular movements and intellectuals, for the democratization of the country. During this period he wrote several works politically engaged, a type of aesthetic current that he was always connected but with a vanguard musical language. It dates from that time his famous Symphony of the Direct (Symphony of the Horns) and the controversial National Anthem Alternative (Hino to the New Brazil). During the same period he directed several musical projects at the University of Brasilia (Nucleus of Sonological Research, UnB Chamber Orchestra, Festivals of Contemporary Music, etc.) and made several trips to Europe to participate in Festivals and to conduct concerts.
In 1992/93 he was awarded the Bolsa Vitae, a Post-Doctorate grant from CNPq and a license from the University to conduct research for one year in Europe and the Middle East (Berlin, Baden-Baden, Freiburg, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Paris). During this period he completed his new opera OLGA.
From January to July 1993 he was composer-in-residence at the UPIC Ateliers, led by Iannis Xenakis, where he worked in the field of music informatics and sound & image correspondence, composing the electronic sound tapes to be used simultaneously to the symphonic part of his new opera. In 1993 his work Idiosynchronie was awarded with the Recommendation Prize of the International Tribune of Composers of Unesco.
In 1994, Antunes was elected a full member of the Brazilian Academy of Music. He participated in the Festival of Electroacoustic Music in Bourges, France, and received the Creative Music Prize at the Londrina Festival in Paraná. That same year he organized and coordinated the First Meeting of Electroacoustic Music, in Brasília, where the Brazilian Society of Electroacoustic Music was founded. Antunes was elected president of SBME and in 1997 was re-elected president for another period.
Between February and May 1995, he performed a series of activities in France, participating in the Festival Présences 95, where his new work Rimbaudiannisia MCMXCV, commissioned by Radio France, was premiered.
During the period he composed electroacoustic works, on commission, at the Electroacoustic Music Studios of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales de Paris, UPIC Ateliers de Massy and the Groupe de Expérimentation Musicale de Bourges.
In 1996, Rimbaudiannisia MCMXCV received the Recommendation Prize of the International Tribune of Composers of Unesco and was presented in a Brazilian premiere during the XII Biennial of Brazilian Contemporary Music in Rio de Janeiro.
In 1997 he won a scholarship from the Rio-Arte Foundation, to compose an instrumental-electronic Ballet. Also in 1997 he organized and directed the II Meeting of Electroacoustic Music, in Brasilia, this time in an international character. At the opportunity was held general assembly of the Brazilian Society of Electroacoustic Music when Antunes was reelected its president.
In February 1998 he was invited by the University of Aveiro, Portugal, to teach master classes during the Electroacoustic Music Days. In June 1998, he was invited by the Goethe Institute and the Musicians Contemporaries group of Cordoba, Argentina, to give lectures and perform concerts with his works.
Also in 1998 he received the Estancias 1998 Award from the Ministry of Culture of the Spanish government. With this award Antunes taught master-classes at the Laboratory of Informatics and Electronic Music (LIEM) in Madrid, where he worked during the July-August period composing new electroacoustic works. In the II Biennial of Electroacoustic Music of the State of São Paulo (II BIMESP), held in October 1998 and celebrating 50 years of electroacoustic music, Antunes received a special tribute as a precursor of this type of music in Brazil.
In the biennium 1999/2000 Antunes wrote two great choral-symphonic works on the occasion of the celebrations of the 500 years of Brazil: Cantata dos Dez Povos, commissioned by the University of Brasília, and Sinfonia em Cinco Movimentos, commissioned by the Ministry of Culture. In 1999 he participated in the ISCM Festival in Romania, where he conducted the Iasi Symphony Orchestra presenting his work Rimbaudiannisia for children’s choir and orchestra.
In October 2001, Antunes represented Brazil again at the ISCM Festival in Yokohama, Japan. For this festival, his electroacoustic work “Hombres tristes y sin título rodeados de pájaros en noche amarilla, violeta y naranja” was selected. After his stay in Japan, Jorge Antunes was in Paris where he presented monographic concerts of his works, held conferences at the Université de Paris VIII, and composed new works, in commission, at GRM Studio 116 on Radio France.
In 2002, in the year that celebrated the 60th anniversary of Jorge Antunes’ birth, the composer received significant tributes in various parts of the world. In June, at the invitation of the Gaudeamus Foundation in Amsterdam, Antunes was in Holland where he was honored with several monographic concerts of his works. In July 2002 Antunes was awarded the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, one of the most important honorary titles awarded by the French government. In September 2002, the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District, Brazil, granted Antunes the title of Honorary Citizen of Brasilia.
In 2003 the publishing house Sistrum published a biography of Jorge Antunes written by Gerson Valle, entitled: Jorge Antunes, a trajectory of art and politics. In the same year some monographic CDs, with works by Antunes, were published by the Brazilian Academy of Music, New Records Mode Records, UnB Publishing and Edições Paulinas-Comep de São Paulo.
In November 2003, Jorge Antunes organized and coordinated the III International Meeting of Electroacoustic Music, in Brasilia. At the General Assembly of the Brazilian Society of Electroacoustic Music, SBME, Antunes was re-elected president.
Between April and August of 2004 Jorge Antunes spent a season in Europe, presenting his new works and giving conferences in France, Austria and Germany. In November 2004, Jorge Antunes participated for the thirteenth time of the ISCM Festival (International Society of Contemporary Music), which was held in Switzerland in that year. The Brazilian work selected by the Festival jury was Eoliolinda, written by Antunes in 2001 for Flute Orchestra.
In 2005 Jorge Antunes published, with the support of SACEM, Paris, a CD with his monumental work Cantata dos Dez Povos. In the same year he received honors in Crest, France, during the Futura Festival, in which a concert entitled Portrait Jorge Antunes was organized.
He also published another CD, with the support of the Association of Teachers of the University of Brasilia (ADUnB), with the recording of the historical record of his work Sinfonia das Diretas. His third book in the series “New Souds” was published by Editora Sistrum, with the support of the Fund of Support to Culture of the government of the Federal District.
Also in 2005, filmmaker Carlos Del Pino made the feature film titled “Maestro Jorge Antunes, Controversy and Modernity”, with the support of the Doc-TV project of the Ministry of Culture and Radiobrás. The film tells the saga of Antunes from his youth in the proletarian neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, active in student politics, as a composer engaged in the struggle for social justice, to his international projection as a vanguard composer. This film was broadcast nationally on the entire network of Brazilian educational television in November 2005.
On April 12, 2006 was premiered his work Blaue Elegie für Nikolaus von Myra, for mezzo-soprano and eight cellos. The composition is 25 minutes long and was commissioned by the Stichting Dijkverzwaring Foundation of the Netherlands for the Cello Octet Conjunto Ibérico directed by Elias Arizcuren. The concert was held in the brand new Amsterdam Theater, the Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ. The soloist was the Dutch mezzo-soprano Gerrie de Vries.
In October 2006 his opera Olga was premiered on the official schedule of the Municipal Theater of São Paulo. In 2007, Jorge Antunes was awarded the Premio de Permanencia de la Fundación Carolina de Madrid, Spain, and received a commission of Orchestre de Flûtes Français, directed by Pierre-Yves Artaud, to compose a concert for baritone saxophone and flute orchestra. The world premiere of this work was held on March 13, 2008 at Salle Alfred Cortot in Paris. The soloist was the saxophonist Claude Delangle and the conductor was Jorge Antunes himself.
During his stay in Madrid and Paris in the first half of 2008, Jorge Antunes held several concerts and lectures, including a monographic concert of his works in the new Auditorium of the Reina Sofia Art Museum in Madrid, and concerts and lectures in the Université de Paris VIII, in Paris. In 2009 Antunes was awarded by Funarte with the Stimulus Grant for Artistic Creation, to compose a Symphonic Poem in honor of the centenary of Master Vitalino. The work, titled O Massapê Vivo, was premiered at the end of October 2009, during the XVIII Contemporary Brazilian Music Biennial in Rio de Janeiro. In 2010 Jorge Antunes created the Ópera de Rua Group. Also in 2010, he received a commission from Funarte to write a new work for ten instruments. This new composition, titled Brasil de Pé Atrás, was premiered on October 13, 2011 at the XIX Brazilian Contemporary Music Biennial in Rio de Janeiro.
In May 2012 Jorge Antunes was honored by the School of Music of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, during the XXVI Panorama da Música Brasileira Atual. The Festival was dedicated to the composer, for his 70 years of age. Other institutions paid tribute to him for his 70 years, promoting monographic concerts of his works: Symphonic Orchestra of the National Theater of Brasília, New Music Festival of Ribeirão Preto, Symphonic Orchestra of Porto Alegre, Thomas Jefferson House of Brasília, etc. In September-October 2012 Antunes held a concert tour in Austria, Germany and Israel, playing his works, with GEMUNB (Experimental Group of New Music of Brazil).
In November 2012 he was awarded the Ibermusicas Prize, to be a composer-resident in Mexico, for research and composition of new work at CMMAS (Mexican Center for Music and Sound Arts). During his stay in the city of Morelia, in August-September 2013, he composed new work entitled Carta Athenagorica.
In 2014 was premiered, in Brasilia, his new opera A Cartomante. This opera was commissioned by the FAC-DF (Fund of Support to Culture of the DF). That same year, Antunes received a commission from FUNARTE, to compose a new symphonic work, to be premiered at the XX Biennial of Brazilian Contemporary Music, in Rio de Janeiro in October 2015. The title of this work, for a great orchestra, is “Apotheosis of Rousseau”.
In 2015 he received a commission from Theatro São Pedro de São Paulo, and the Instituto PensArte, to compose a new opera O Espelho (The Mirror), with a libretto by Jorge Coli. The opera The Mirror was premiered in March 2017, at Theatro São Pedro, in São Paulo.
In 2016, Jorge Antunes received support from the Federal District Culture Support Fund for a series of presentations of his two mini-operas for children: The King of One Note and The Blue Butterfly. In the same year, he received the Funarte Award for Classical Composition 2016, with his work Tríptico Bocageano, a collection of three songs using sonnets of the Portuguese poet Bocage. The work will be premiered at the XXII Bienal de Música Brasileira Contemporânea, in Rio de Janeiro, in October.
In 2017, joining the popular movements against the parliamentary coup, he composed and presented, with the support of ADUnB (University of Brasilia Teachers’ Association), in his public square, his Symphony of Rights. The work, lasting 40 minutes, was written for choir, instrumental ensemble, horn orchestra, samba school drum and electronic sounds. In September of 2017, he presented recitals of his recent works in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro, releasing his new CD Jorge Antunes, Minha Pianistas.
Also in 2017, he received an invitation from the Cité Internationale des Arts for an artistic residence in Paris for 40 days in October / November. During his stay in Paris, he will perform concerts of his works at the Maison du Brésil and the Multiphonies series of GRM-INA (Groupe de Recherches Musicales de l’Institut de l’Audiovisuel). In the period, will also perform the film of his opera Olga at the Embassy of Brazil in Paris, and the Galerie Olga Benario in Berlin.