Braga studied at the Imperial Conservatory and later at the Paris Conservatoire under Massenet, a result of a scholarship stemming from a competition for the composition of a new Brazilian national anthem (which he did not win).

He moved to Germany in 1896 and was heavily influenced by the techniques of Wagner. During this period he wrote his symphonic poems "Marab" (1928) and "Episódo sinfônico" (1900). His first opera, "Jupira" (1922) was written during a short stay in Italy. Braga was an active conductor and held regular concerts of the Rio Sociedade de Concertos Sinfônicos for nearly 20 years. He was professor of composition at the Instituto Nacional de Música from 1902-38. His compositons are mostly orchestral and are in a late Romantic European style.