Friday, May 16, 2008

The Music Of João Pernambuco

João Teixeira Guimarães (1883-1947), better known as João Pernambuco, is one of the founders of the Brasilian guitar choro style, and his compositions for solo violão are deservedly considered belonging to the core of classic choro, popular with guitarists, loved and admired by audiences in Brazil and elsewhere. Villa Lobos once said according Pernambuco's compositions that even J.S. Bach would not have been embarrassed to sign his name to them, a great recognition of João Pernambuco's genius, expressing true admiration by a renowned and worldfamous composer in his own right. Eventually, had it not been for Villa Lobos' admiration and enthusiastic assistance in helping to transcribe several of João Pernambuco's compositions in music, his work as a composer would not have been known outside his contemporary community of choro musicians and saved for posterity.

João Pernambuco was born in Jatobá, Pernambuco, in 1883, as a member of a large family (- he had 19 siblings). After his mother passed away in 1904, he moved to Rio de Janeiro to seek his fortune. Though he was illiterate, Pernambuco had vast experience in popular culture, which reflected very strongly on his artistic side. His musical knowledge soon led him to meet some of the best musicians in his era. He was a contemporary of Catulo da Paixão Cearense, Pixinguinha and others. It was Pernambuco's idea to form the Grupo Caxangá in 1912. The group had a series of Carnaval hits in the years 1914 through 1919. When Pixinguinha created his Os Oito Batutas ensemble, he invited almost all of the members of Grupo do Caxangá, and that led to ending Pernambuco's group. He was a member of Os Oito Batutas up to 1921, but left before Pixinguinha was offered a tour engagement of Paris in 1922 with his group. From then on Pernambuco worked on his own as a guitar teacher at one of Rio's famous instrument stores, the Cavaquinho de Ouro, a meeting point for choro musicians and other artists, who benefitted from his pedagogical teaching and willingness to share his work and experience. This led to his meeting with the great Paraguayan guitarist and composer, Augustin Barrios, and later Pernambuco was introduced in the upper class of Cariocan society to perform his compositions and show off his abilities as a self taught master of the violão. He had success with his performance, although the guitar/violão at that time was considered a low class utility for entertainment of simple workers only. Pernambuco had learned the instrument from listening to and watching street musicians in his native region, and simple low-class life was a part of his career as well - he earned his living as a blacksmith making shoes for horses when not teaching, composing and performing! He also had experience with the new media of the time, radio and recording. Together with fellow guitarist Zezinho (- later known as Zé Carioca) he recorded a dozen of his own compositions for Columbia in 1929-30. These 78 rpms are hard to find nowadays, but you have an opportunity to listen to some of them in the program by Fábio Zanon from Rádio Cultura, SP, devoted to João Pernambuco, to be reached clicking here

My first encounter with the compositions of João Pernambuco was through listening to the execelent recordings by Turibio Santos of some of his most famous choros released in 1977 on the shown LP above (ERATO 9155). I still recommend these recordings as some of the best available performance of classic guitar choro by Pernambuco and other. The LP has been re-issued on a cd I'm told, but I have not been able to locate it, yet. However, the LP contains authoritative renditions of Pernambuco's choros 'Dengoso', 'Graúna', 'Interrogando', 'Pó de Mico' and 'Sons de Carrilhões' and is well worth searching for, if you haven't access to the cd re-issue.

In 1983 the choro ensemble No em pingo d'agua recorded some of Pernambuco's compositions in collaboration with pianist Antonio Adolfo to cellebrate the centennial of the composers birth. Earlier I have commented on these recordings, which are recommended and available in streaming audio from Canal Funarte, click here

In 1992 Caio Cezar recorded the shown cd, Caio Cezar interpreta João Pernambuco, vol. 1 (CARRILHÕES 107.177) (- released 1996), containing 11 solo renditions of Pernambuco's work, more info available from Discos do Brasil including sound clips, click here

In 1997 Leandro Carvalho, who learned erudite guitar technique from Turibio Santos, released his first cd devoted to João Pernambuco's music, João Pernambuco - O Poeta do Violão, more info on contents and sound clips at Discos do Brasil, click here

In 2000 Leandro Carvalho released his second cd with works by Pernambuco arranged for solo guitar as well as various ensembles . Click on picture below to learn details from information at Discos do Brasil

If you search for more info on João Pernambuco at the internet, I recommend a visit at a website in Italian/Portuguese devoted to his legacy, click here

YouTube has several videos uploaded with performances of music by João Pernambuco, I insert one of them below to end this small contribution on the legacy of one of the greatest composers in the guitar choro genre.

Enjoy a performance by an accomplished guitarist playing Pernambuco's 'Dengoso'



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you jo for this extensive contribution ......

Keep swinging


16 May, 2008  
Blogger Bernardo Tonasse said...

Hi there, i love the content of this blog. But please, you must change de colors of it. It is virtually unreadable these font colors in a black background. Not very user-friendly...

21 May, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its nice to see your blog.Listening to music does wonder to alleviate stress. Everyone has different tastes in music. We should listen to the music that makes us feel comfortable.

28 August, 2008  

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