The Boeuf chronicles, Pt. 3
Discouraged love and a comedy of errors.17 April 2002
João de Souza Lima
(photo: Aldo de Souza Lima)
How does one go about identifying tunes quoted in a musical composition? The most immediate way is through the aural method, whereby you listen to recordings and trust your ears to discern identical passages in different pieces. That works well enough if the composition has been recorded. If it hasnt but you read music and have access to scores, you can make visual comparisons of the passages. But first you need to know that the piece exists. If nothing has been published about it, youre in the dark.
That was exactly where I was vis à vis the third quotation in Le Boeuf sur le Toit. Having relied exclusively on the aural method, I hit a blank wall after sixteen tunes. Luckily, the musicologists Aloysio de Alencar Pinto and Manoel Aranha Corrêa do Lago were pursuing the same goal at the same time. Prof. Pinto is a member of the Academia Brasileira de Música, occupying the Ernesto Nazareth chair. Hes 91 years old and is blessed with a prodigious memory, in addition to having known in person many of the important musical personages in 20th-century Brazil. He had already identified 14 of the tunes in his 1980 program notes for a ballet production of Le Boeuf sur le Toit at the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro. In early 2000 he was joined by Manoel Aranha Corrêa do Lago, and together they identified ten more tunes, some of which I stood no chance of ever discovering by listening to discs.
Prof. Pinto has since revised and republished his 1980 article under the title Partitura Brasileira com Sotaque Francês in Vol. XII (Dec. 2001) of the Revista da Academia Nacional de Música. Manoel Corrêa do Lago has written a long analytical article that will be published this summer in the Latin American Music Review. In addition, he wrote the introduction to the recently published Le Boeuf sur le Toit score for piano four hands.
Tune No. 3: Amor Avacalhado (1918)
Amor Avacalhado (Discouraged Love) is a tango composed by the celebrated pianist João de Souza Lima (18981982) under the pseudonym Xon-Xon. Souza Lima was a musical prodigy who had already composed many pieces by the age of sixteen. In 1919 he received a grant to study in France, where he remained for eleven years. For most of his life he was a classical composer, so Amor Avacalhado is somewhat atypical of his usual output. His chair in the Academia Brasileira de Música is now occupied by Turíbio Santos. The conservatory of music named after Souza Lima is affiliated with the Berklee College of Music.
In Louis de Froments recording of Le Boeuf sur le Toit, section A of Amor Avacalhado begins at 1:52 min. Heres an excerpt.
The Amor Avacalhado piano score sold by Mariano Marlante & Irmão of Porto Alegre classified the tune as a maxixe. It bears the following dedication:
Dedicado aos Voadô
Two other tunes by the same author were advertised in the score:
A Voadora (valsa)
Os Voadô (tango)
Enthusiasm for aviators marked that age, but as it turns out, Os Voadô were not aviators but a group of young paulista friends who met regularly at the music store Casa Sotero to chat, before going out to ogle the girls at the center of São Paulo, as João de Souza Lima recalled in his book of memoirs Moto Perpétuo (São Paulo, IBRASA, 1982):
We had the habit, I and a few friends, to meet in the afternoon at the old Casa Sotero, which was situated on Rua Líbero Badaró, in order to shoot the breeze and take several turns around the Triangle, with the intent of appreciating the [human] traffic that was always rich in feminine youth. This Triangle is thus called because of the formation of the three principal streets: Rua Direita, Rua XV de Novembro, and Rua São Bento.
The Triangle of São Paulo, center of commercial and cultural activity
The groups leader, Mário Macedo, named them O Grupo dos Voadô, meaning eagles, and gave each member a nickname: Souza Lima became Xon-Xon; Waldemar Otero, Chamboca; José França (manager of Casa Sotero), Príncipe; and Macedo himself, DArtagnan.
Amor Avacalhado was hastily born out of necessity. When the young men were ready to leave the store and go downtown for some beers, more often than not they found their pockets empty. On such occasions, Xon-Xon would ask Príncipe for musical notation paper and quickly write a tanguinho or a maxixezinho that he would sell on the spot to Sr. Sotero de Souza (the same one who owned the rights to Marcelo Tupinambás Viola Cantadeira and Maricota, Sai da Chuva) for 20 mil réis. Recalls the composer:
This happened various times. I want to tell here that as part of our joking around, I gave one of those tanguinhos the not-so-elegant name of Amor Avacalhado. Imagine! Well, this tanguinho was printed, having garnered much successso much so that the great French composer Darius Milhaud, who lived in Rio de Janeiro for some years as secretary of the French Embassy, composed later a ballet called Le Boeuf sur le Toit, utilizing themes of our popular music, including my entire tanguinho.
Rua Líbero Badaró, São Paulo
The tanguinho Amor Avacalhado has yet another vicarious connection to aviators, as we shall see soon enough.
Having been told about the tune by Prof. Pinto and Manoel do Lago, I checked for recordings in Fundação Joaquim Nabucos database. To my surprise and delight I found one:
Título: Amor Avacalhado
Intérprete: Eduardo das Neves
The reason for my delight was twofold. First, the piano score contains no lyrics, yet here was a vocal recording. Second, the singer was none other than the legendary Eduardo das Neves (18741919), one of the few genuine stars of that era. It was he who composed in 1902 the famous marcha A Conquista do Ar in honor of the aviator Santos Dumont:
A Europa curvou-se ante o Brasil
E Clamou parabéns em meigo tom
Brilhou lá no céu mais uma estrela
Apareceu Santos Dumont
Eduardo das Neves
Alexandre Dias went out of his way to obtain the recording (which possibly dates from 1915) from a well-known collector. Like many recordings of the day, it begins with a spoken announcement: Amor Avacalhado, cantado por Eduardo das Neves para Casa Edison, Rio de Janeiro.
However, when the singer opens his mouth, the melody that comes out is not Amor Avacalhado but Ernesto Nazareths tango Favorito (1895). Still, the very funny lyrics talk of discouraged love, so Im including them anyway. The author isnt known, and Im indebted to the collector Dijalma M. Candido for the transcription.
As for the correct melody, it was recorded by Alexandre Dias from the piano score furnished by Manoel do Lago. This audio sample represents the tangos section A, which was quoted by Milhaud.
Alexandre Dias plays the entire tune in a 2012 recording.
Music (Favorito) by Ernesto Nazareth
Meu amor se tu queres saber
Qual a razão deste meu padecer
Por que motivo me ausento de ti
Vem me escutar aqui
Não é medo meu bem, qual o que!
Eu te digo qual é a razão
Eu gosto muito de você
Mas dou o fora nesta ocasião.
Tens um pai que é de tremer
E é quem me faz sofrer
Perder o tempo até
Bem sabes como ele é...
Se descobre que eu vou lá
Tenho mesmo que fugir
Pois não dou pra fubá
Na porta não posso ir.
Esse seu pai é uma fera
Se você ainda espera
Que eu caia nesse arrastão
Mas eu não vou nisso não
Nestas contas, eu vou por mim
Pois não tem graça, meu bem
Eu perder o meu latim
Nestas contas, vou por mim.
Tua mãe, ai Jesus, não tem mais!
Porque eu hei de dizer de teus pais
Tem por mãe uma víbora feroz
Que do inferno caiu entre nós!
É maldosa, cruel, é um azar
Pois não me dá uma folga sequer
Que [viro], que paixão, que contrariedade!
Isto não é mulher!
Tens um pai que é de tremer...
Teus maninhos me pedem tostões
Sujam-me a roupa, me arrancam os botões
Tu achas isso muito natural
Eu sei que não é por mal!
Mas não posso, a despesa é demais
Cair no Mangue é melhor, minha flor
Crio alma nova, me vou para embora
Saúde e fica, [Deusinho] meu amor
Tens um pai que é de tremer...
= = =
In 1929, Francisco Alves would record a modified version of the same lyrics under the title Favorito. Mário Pinheiro recorded Favorito around 1908, with lyrics attributed to Catulo da Paixão Cearense that are different from the verses later recorded by Eduardo das Neves.
Score courtesy of Manoel Aranha Corrêa do Lago
(scanned by Alexandre Dias)
Copyright © 20022016 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.