:: The articles in this series were originally
:: published in Daniella Thompson on Brazil.


 

The Boeuf chronicles, Pt. 23a

More on Vermutin.

Daniella Thompson

29 November 2002


Detail from the score cover of the slow waltz “Vermutin”

F. Soriano Robert, who wrote “Seu Amaro Quer” and “Olh’ Abacaxi!” (the former advertising the patent medicine Vermutin and owned by its manufacturer Dr. Eduardo França, the latter unrelated to Vermutin but dedicated to França), also composed an instrumental tune titled “Vermutin” that he released in two versions—a slow waltz and an Argentine tango.

I have always found the symbolism connected with Vermutin jingles particularly obscure. Thus I fail to comprehend the shocked expression of the Pierrot on the score cover of the slow waltz, just as I’m puzzled at the horror in the eyes of the damsel staring at the apple. Is there something smacking of original sin here? Equally mysterious is the connection between Argentine tango and oriental fashions. Perhaps we might chalk it up to an excellent marketing sense—both score covers of “Vermutin” are particularly eye catching, as is the cover of “Olh’ Abacaxi!”—well ahead of its time in terms of graphic design.


Score cover of the Argentine tango “Vermutin”

In his book No Tempo de Noel Rosa (Rio de Janeiro, Livraria Francisco Alves, 1963), Almirante calls Dr. França a true innovator in matters of advertising and gives him credit for having organized the first-ever carnaval song competition on 16 February 1919. The event took place with much pomp and elegance at the Teatro Lírico in Rio de Janeiro, where the Banda do Batalhão Naval performed all six competing tunes. The spectacle opened with a conference on popular music, presented by Dr. França himself.

The winner of the competition was the maxixe “Prove e Beba Vermutin” (Try and Drink Vermutin) by Abdon Lyra. The song was a total failure in the carnaval. In a letter dated 26 October 1921, Dr. Eduardo França authorizes the record company Casa Edison to release on disc two songs advertising his product: “Prove e Beba Vermutin” and the slow waltz “Vermutin” by F. Soriano Robert.


Score cover of the slow waltz “Vermutin”
 
The clarinet part from the orchestration for the slow waltz “Vermutin”

According to the agreement between França and Fred Figner of Casa Edison, the record company’s sole obligation was to print the name Vermutin on each record label. I have yet to find evidence that either jingle was ever committed to wax.

Another curious case of a paean to Vermutin was reported by Ernesto Nazareth’s biographer, Luiz Antonio de Almeida, who recounts that in 1919, Nazareth’s tango “Succolento” (Ch. nº 7996) was published by Casa Mozart under the denomination samba brazileiro and dedicated to the carnavalescos of that year. Along with the manuscript, dated 31 January, Almeida found lyrics to the music by a certain Neptuno, who titled them “O Vermutin.”

Listen to “Succolento” played by Alexandre Dias, here.

O Vermutin

I Parte

O Vermutin é bebida excelente,
Deliciosa e até sem rival
O Vermutin faz bem a gente
Toma, meu nego, Vermutin no Carnaval.

Experimente que você verá
Que o seu effeito igual não há
Pois o Doutor com tal successo
Na Capital lançou-o já!

Quem usa do famoso Vermutin
Tem vida longa, tem vida sem fim
Dá alegria, oh negrada,
Ai, como é bom do Vermutin uma golada

Vae para o céu o seu feliz autor
Da Lugolina inventor
Mas está provado rapaziada
Que é melhor que cajuada

II Parte

Declamado ou cantado
A ninguém cansa
O Vermutin
Do Eduardo França

Elle é gostoso
Anima a gente
Ao homem fraco
Fal-o valente

Tal descoberta
Tal maravilha
Assim no Céu
Estrella brilha

No Carnaval   [bis]
É adorado
Toca p’ra frente
S’tá consagrado

III Parte

Ai que prazer
Ai que alegria
É tão gostoso
Quem tal diria?

Eu aconselho
A toda gente
Que o Vermutin
É excelente!

Elle faz parte
Em grandes festas
Desde o commercio
Té as serestas

Pois não duvidem   [bis]
Não há que vêr
No Vermutin
Podem bem crer

IV Parte (para finalizar)

Quem tiver sêde e matal-a quizer
Lembre-se logo de o procurar
Encontrará em toda parte
E o appetite terá bom para o jantar

A minha sogra dele já provou
Logo uma duzia encommendou
E lá p‚ra roça enviando
Uma carroça, arrebentou!...

O Vermutin é de um tal sabor
Mesmo no tempo do frio ou calor
O camarada vae gostando
E as garrafas é que vão se esvasiando

Chegando á casa o que fui procurar,
Mas no avança sem pensar
Fiquei assim na esperança
Pois elle já estava na pança!...
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