- Piano Concerto in A major
- Ballad op. 16 for piano solo
- Fantasia Dramática for Piano & Orchestra
- Symphony "À Pátria"
- "Invocation of the Lusiads" for piano solo
- "Os Lusíadas" for piano & choir
- String quartet in C minor
- Five Portuguese Rapshodies for Orchestra
- Several piano solo pieces based on traditional folk themes
José Vianna da Motta was one of the greatest pianists of his time, as well as a conductor, a teacher of international renown, a worthy musicologist and an important composer in the history of Portuguese music. Born in Africa, São Tomé & Príncepe, he left for Lisbon while still a child and soon began his music studies at the National Conservatory of Music. At 13 years of age he gives his first public concert. The titular King of Portugal, Ferdinand II of Sax-Coburg-Gotha awarded the young Vianna da Motta a scholarship in 1882 to study in Berlin to work composition with Philipp Scharwenka, and piano lessons with Xaver Scharwenka. In 1885 he moves to Weimar having Franz Liszt as his teacher. In the meantime he receives piano lessons also from Hans von Buelow. Trough this contact with Buelow, Vianna da Motta became a highly regarded interpreter and scholar of Beethoven. Vianna da Motta remained in Berlin until the outbreak of war in 1914, giving frequent concerts in Europe and the Americas, appearing with such artists as Sarasate, Ysaÿe, Casals, Amalie Joachim and Busoni. Busoni dedicated a Mozart cadenza to him as well his transcriptions of Bach’s chorale preludes, and Vianna da Motta gave the premiere of Busoni’s transcriptions of Bach’s Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major. Albeniz also dedicated his piano work "La Vega" to him. With Busoni, Vianna da Motta embarked on a new complete edition of Liszt’s works for Breitkopf & Härtel. The two artists also collaborated on projects com memorating Beethoven and in Berlin performed Liszt’s transcription of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for two pianos. After the outbreak of the First World ar Vianna da Motta left Germany and accepted a position as director of the Music Conservatory in Geneva. In 1917 he returned to Portugal where he was resident for the rest of his life. Upon his return to Lisbon he became Chief Conductor of the Lisbon Symphony Orchestra. In this capacity he gave the Portuguese premieres of works such as Brahms’s Third Symphony, Saint-Saëns’s "Phaéton", Berlioz’s "Roméo et Juliette" and Debussy’s "Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune".
As a pianist he was well admired in his interpretations of Bach, Beethoven and mainly Liszt. He still left a small but important recorded legacy including works of Busoni, Liszt and Chopin, as well his own music. As a composer Vianna da Motta left a considerable output. His best-known work, The Symphony "To the Fatherland" ("À Pátria") was composed in 1895 and performed in Porto two years later. Each of its four movements is a musical reflection of poems by Luís de Camões. His Ballad op. 16, based on two popular Portuguese songs, composed in 1905, is undoubtedly his most mature piano work. This work is similar in form to Grieg’s "Ballad in G minor", and it is interesting to note that in his book "Meister des Klaviers" Walter Niemann referred Vianna da Mota as "The Portuguese Grieg". Among his several composition for piano two of them for orchestra are the well known Piano Concert in A major as the "Fantasia Dramática", this last one a piece of great maturity and lyricism, where the composer is more comfortable with the physical requirements of the orchestra and the piano although the vituosic demands of both are still deceptively high. Vianna da Motta died in Lisbon in 1948. His music lives on the spirit of Portuguese nation`alism: its importance cannot be better illustrated than when his folk-dance "Chula" was broadcasted repeatedly on Portuguese Stae Television during the revolution of 1974, when Portugal became a democratic republic. It was this work that best illustrated the momentous occasion of the resurgence of Portuguese national pride.