Monday, May 25, 2015

Homenagem à Chiquinha Gonzaga

Chiquinha Gonzaga (1877)
Chiquinha Gonzaga (1847-1935) is considered the first important female composer and performer of popular music in Brazil. She was born as an illegitimate child, but fortunately her farther recognized her as his own and provided her with an education that included musical training. She participated in piano recitals throughout her youth and demonstrated execeptional skill. Her desire at a young age to pursue music professionally, however, was abandoned by her family. At age 13 she was forced into an arranged marriage but by 18 had already left her husbund to become a single mother, who played the piano to support her children. As a result of this she was declared dead by her former family! However, over time Chiquinha succeeded in making a living and a name for herself as a performer, composer and piano teacher.

Gonzaga was the first female to be allowed attending the social and musical fraternity of choro musicians, helped by her friend Joaquin Calado -the first composer of music in the choro style. Chiquinha started composing in the choro style too and had success with the piece "Corta-jaca" from 1897. Later she would be engaged in composing and arranging music for the popular theater. She was also a dedicated participant in the abolition movement and engaged further in the protection of authors' and composers' rights. By the time of her death in 1935, her musical works included a great number of theater pieces as well as sacred music, besides popular music including maxixes, marches and choros. Her legacy as an important composer of Brazilian popular music continues today. - The official website dedicated to the legacy of Chiquinha Gonzaga (in Portuguese only) is accessible here and the digital archive of Gonzaga's compositions is accessible here 

This year it has been 80 years since Chiquinha Gonzaga's passing, and her life story has been dramatized in a TV production in Brazil to commenmorate her importance in the nation's music and culture. Among other initiatives to commenmorate Chiquinha Gonzaga, a new CD by Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira  paying tribute to Gonzaga's music has been released recently and is presented here.
The new CD by Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira
The CD has twelve tracks and the music is excellently performed by Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira. The trio comprises André Ribeiro (bandolim), Priscila Matos (piano) and Roberto Amaral (pandeiro). The CD is the trio's second release - the first was issued in 2012 titled De Três em Três (- earlier mentioned here).
Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira, l-r: Roberto Amarel, Priscila Matos, André Ribeiro
Chiquinha Gonzaga's music is influenced by both European popular styles such as polka, mazurka and waltz as well as tango, lundu and maxixe a.o., and the various styles reflected in her work as a composer characterize her as a major transitional figure pioneering and helping to shape the direction of a genuine Brazilian music which - together with the compositions by Ernesto Nazareth - may be considered the roots of choro. Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira has succeeded in capturing the atmosphere and expression of Gonzaga's music in a contemporary setting. The rhythmic pulse of the featured pieces at the CD is heavily influenced by the habanera and syncopation, which provides the musical themes from a long gone romantic 'belle epoche' a contemporary appeal - the music of Chiquinha Gonzaga is still able to seduce the attentive listener when performed by skilled musicians like Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira. - A short presentation of the contained music at the CD has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted here 

Chiquinha Gonzaga was a piano player and used the piano to write famous pieces like 'Corta-jaca' - now a standard of the choro repertoire - here performed in its first presentation on record by Grupo Chiquinha Gonzaga

The piano player of Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira, Priscila Matos, has uploaded some examples of her interpretation of Gonzaga's pieces, which I'll insert below. - Here is first Priscila Matos' version of 'Corta-jaca', also known as 'Gaucho'

Chiquinha Gonzaga had her first public success with a composition titled 'Atraente', a polka/choro from 1877 also adopted by the choro standard book, here performed by Priscila Matos

To end this, here is Priscila Matos' version of Chiquinha Gonzaga's maxixe 'Mulher Homem', recorded at the session featured at the new CD by Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira

The CD Homenagem à Chiquinha Gonzaga by Conjunto  Subindo a Ladeira is highly recommend and is available for purchase as mp3 download from Amazon, here


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