:: This article was published in the book O boi no telhado—
:: Darius Milhaud e a música brasileira no modernismo francês


The Boeuf chronicles

Milhaud’s silent partners.

Daniella Thompson

11 January 2013

For many years, the connections between Brazilian music and the outside world have been a topic of continuing fascination for me. In August 2000, shortly after publishing the story of Leopold Stokowski and Native Brazilian Music, I began an investigation into the Brazilian melodies quoted by Darius Milhaud in his most famous composition, the rondo Le Boeuf sur le Toit (1919).

The outcome of that investigation was the website The Boeuf Chronicles/As Crônicas Bovinas, which delves into the identities of Milhaud’s silent partners, their original compositions and cultural milieus.

Two of the 14 quoted composers, Ernesto Nazareth and Chiquinha Gonzaga, are famous enough to dispense with lengthy introductions. The remaining dozen represent—in their lives as well as their work—an interesting mélange of geographical regions, social classes, and musical styles. He we find cariocas and paulistas, popular and classical composers, sambistas and chorões, regionalists and cosmopolitans: a microcosm of Brazilian society at the turn of the 20th century.

I. Paulistas

Marcelo Tupinambá

Marcelo Tupinambá (1889–1953)

Marcelo Tupinambá (or Marcello Tupynambá, as the name used to be spelled) has the distinction of being represented in Le Boeuf with no fewer than seven tunes, or about a quarter of the total. Born Fernando Álvares Lobo in Tietê, SP, he descended from a musical family. His great-uncle, Elias Álvares Lobo (1834–1901), composed the first Brazilian opera, A Noite de São João (1860), and his father, Eduardo Álvares Lobo, conducted the Banda Santíssima Trindade in Tietê.

Fernando exhibited musical aptitude from a very early age, teaching himself to play the piano and taking violin lessons. In secondary school, he learned to play all the band instruments. His family intended him for the priesthood, but he chose engineering instead. While at the Escola Politécnica de São Paulo, he made ends meet by playing violin in a cinema orchestra. Still in his teens, he was already composing successful tunes for dances and cinemas.

Fernando adopted his nom de plume after being called in by Poli’s founder, Professor Antônio Francisco de Paula Souza, who warned him that writing popular music was an unsuitable activity for a student. Not wishing to give up either his studies or his music, Ferdando made up a pseudonym that embodied Brazilian culture in its synthesis of European influences (Marcello, from Puccini’s La Bohème) and indigenous sources (Tupinambá).

The artistic name was launched in 1914, when the 25-year old Lobo collaborated with the writer Danton Vampré on the theatrical revue São Paulo Futuro, whose sketches portrayed an ideal São Paulo at a time when the city was undergoing severe problems. The show’s hit song, also titled “São Paulo Futuro,” has the distinction of being the first maxixe with lyrics to be recorded in Brazil, as well as the first Brazilian tune quoted by Milhaud in Le Boeuf.

Tupinambá went on to compose at least 265 tunes in various genres, but his claim to fame rests firmly on his incomparable tanguinhos. In 1924, Mário de Andrade wrote:

What exalts the dance music of Marcelo Tupinambá is the melodic line, very pure and varied. The composer encloses within it the heterogeneous indecision of our racial formation. At one moment it has the affectation of the almost-white city dweller, at another, the melancholy of our interior. At times it is of desperate fatalism, an immensely nostalgic longing that is heard, as in this extraordinary “MATUTO,” a song of Ceará that attains that pained sorrow of certain Russian melodies. [...] And it is in this genre of caboclo melody that Marcelo Tupinambá became admirable. In this genre that he calls tanguinho with lamentable disdain for other genres.

However, his status as the king of tanguinho almost didn’t come to pass.

In 1917, Fernando Lobo moved to Barretos, SP, where he practiced civil engineering. Having become engaged to Irene Ferreira de Menezes, he forswore musical work. This might have been the end of his musical career but for the persistence of a musical publisher in need.

João Campassi, partner with Pedro Angelo Camin in the recently founded CEMB (Casa Editora Musical Brasileira), pursued the composer to Barretos, offering attractive terms for songs. Lobo steadfastly refused to earn any money from music, arguing that in Brazil, musician was synonymous with drunkard. Campassi was no fool and had a word with Irene. Showing her an illustrated catalog of luxurious pianos, he suggested: “If the senhora will convince her fiancé to write six tunes for us, only six, light tunes, for piano, that he composes so easily, and that we will publish, retaining the copyrights, a piano will be yours.”

It was an offer Lobo couldn’t refuse—an imported piano was worth four million réis. The first tune Tupinambá sent in under the contract was the tanguinho “Tristeza de Caboclo” (1919; lyrics by Arlindo Leal). Campassi & Camin soon recouped the cost of the Matuschek piano, for they sold 120,000 sheet-music scores of “Tristeza de Caboclo” in one year. The melody of this tanguinho is known in the classical-music world as Milhaud’s “Tango des Fratellini,” named after the celebrated Cirque Médrano clowns who danced in drag to its strains in Jean Cocteau’s ballet Le Boeuf sur le Toit or The Nothing Doing Bar (1920).

In the early 1920s, Lobo’s eyesight deteriorated to the extent that he was forced to abandon engineering and make his living solely from music. In 1923, Pixinguinha’s Oito Batutas recorded his tunes “Até a Volta” and “Até Eu” (their repertoire also included his “A Vida É Essa,” “Toada,” “Tristeza de Caboclo,” “Ruana,” and “Chão Parado”).

Marcelo Tupinambá was closely involved in the nascent broadcasting industry, conducting orchestras in various radio stations. He was always present on historic occasions. In 1929, when radio Cruzeiro do Sul went on the air with its definitive programming, the inaugural broadcast included Tupinambá’s waltz “Coração” (lyrics by Ariovaldo Pires, aka Capitão Furtado). When TV Tupi commenced broadcasting on 18 September 1950, the singer Lolita Rodrigues performed “O Hino da TV” (aka “Canção da TV”), composed for the occasion by Tupinambá (lyrics by Guilherme de Almeida).

Marcelo Tupinambá’s compositions in Le Boeuf sur le Toit:

João de Souza Lima
(photo: Aldo de Souza Lima)

João de Souza Lima (1898–1982)

No mystery surrounds the life of João de Souza Lima, a celebrated pianist, conductor, and composer. Born in São Paulo, he was a musical prodigy and began piano lessons at the age of four. At 13, he initiated his studies with Luigi Chiaffarelli, and had already composed many pieces by the age of sixteen. In 1919, he received a grant to study in France and attended the Conservatoire de Paris, becoming one of Marguerite Long’s favorite students. He remained in France for 11 years, touring Europe with important orchestras.

Upon his return to Brazil, Souza Lima became known as O príncipe dos pianistas brasileiros, giving premières of many important modern works by foreign and Brazilian composers, including, in 1932, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, under the baton of Villa-Lobos. He founded the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo (OSESP), and the Souza Lima conservatory of music is named after him.

Souza Lima was essentially a classical composer, and the tanguinho “Amor Avacalhado” is atypical of his later output. He composed it in 1918, and the circumstances are described in his memoirs. At the time, the composer was a member of a group of young men who met regularly at the Casa Sotero music store. The group’s leader, Mário Macedo, named them “O Grupo dos Voadô” and gave each member a nickname: Souza Lima became “Xon-Xon”; Waldemar Otero, “Chamboca”; José França (manager of Casa Sotero), “Príncipe”; and Macedo himself, “D’Artagnan.”

“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 scribble a tanguinho or a maxixezinho that he would sell on the spot to the publisher Sotero de Souza for 20 mil réis. Recalled 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 success—so 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.

In reality, Milhaud quoted only section A of “Amor Avacalhado,” but Souza Lima, having sold his copyright many years earlier, had nothing left but to boast.

João de Souza Lima’s composition in Le Boeuf sur le Toit:

Alexandre Levy

Alexandre Levy (1864–1892)

Alexandre Levy was a composer, pianist, conductor, and music critic who lived in São Paulo, where he died at the age of 27. His father was the French clarinetist Louis Levy, who settled in São Paulo four years prior to Alexandre’s birth and founded the musical instrument store (still in existence) Casa Levy, an important gathering place for the city’s musicians and artists. A child prodigy, Alexandre began playing in public at the age of eight and was compared to Mozart by the music critics of his time. He studied in Paris and traveled in Europe, and his output included orchestral, chamber, and instrumental solo pieces. Levy’s mature compositions showed marked nationalist traits, incorporating themes from folklore and popular tunes.

Levy’s “Tango Brasileiro” is the oldest composition quoted in Le Boeuf sur le Toit. It was first published in 1890, in the newspaper O Diario Popular, “as a gift to our graceful readers,” namely, the fairer sex.

Alexandre Levy’s composition in Le Boeuf sur le Toit:

Carlos Pagliuchi (1885–1963)

São Paulo was defined to a large degree by the Italian immigration of the 19th century. The city’s musical life in particular was marked by the presence of numerous Italians and their descendants. Carlos Pagliuchi was an important paulista musician born in the old country. A pianist of renown, he conducted orchestras in various São Paulo cinemas at a time when this was considered a prestigious occupation. In 1917 he became a music professor at the Conservatório Dramático e Musical de São Paulo, abandoning the cinema life.

In Moto Perpétuo, João de Souza Lima recalled his friendship with Pagliuchi:

At that time, all the cinemas were obliged to maintain a small musical ensemble to accompany the films. One of these establishments, the cinema Pathé Palace, had an ensemble of great importance that was conducted by the musician Carlos Pagliuchi, a great friend, one of the most prominent popular music composers in the city. Who doesn’t remember two of his principal compositions, the waltz “Deusa” and the tango “Estragadão”? When I revealed to him my desire to enter that activity, to play in small ensembles and conduct them as he did, he immediately initiated me. He made me sit at his side to observe how everything was done. It didn’t take long before I adapted to that activity, so much so that I soon became his substitute.

Pagliuchi produced a good number of both popular and erudite compositions. The former include “Raggi infrarossi”; “Encrenca”; “Noite de Santo Antonio”; “Noite de São Paulo”; “Noite de São Pedro”; “Urucubaca”; “Sertanejo” (quoted in Le Boeuf); “Brejeira”; and “Estragadão.”

Carlos Pagliuchi’s composition in Le Boeuf sur le Toit:
  • Sertanejo (tango/batuque-dança brasileira; 1919)

II. Sambistas & Chorões

José Monteiro

José Monteiro (aka Zé Boiadêro)

Although reluctant to reveal his sources, Milhaud divulged the origin of his rondo’s title: “I called this fantasia Le Boeuf sur le Toit, which was the title of a Brazilian popular song.” Despite the fact that “O Boi no Telhado” was a major hit in the 1918 carnaval, its melody is so thoroughly forgotten that most people automatically assume it is the recurring rondo theme in Le Boeuf sur le Toit.

Published under the pseudonym Zé Boiadêro, “O Boi no Telhado” is the only surviving composition by José Monteiro, a chorão whose precise identity has yet to be firmly established.

One José Monteiro traveled to Paris in 1922 as the vocalist and percussionist of Pixinguinha’s regional, Os Batutas. Possibly the same José Monteiro was described in 1936 by the chorão Alexandre Gonçalves Pinto, aka Animal:

Who didn’t know Zé Monteiro in Engenho de Dentro?_ A singer of modinhas who dazzled, for he possessed a marvelous voice! Zé Monteiro was a prince on the cavaquinho, a person well-liked by Guttemberg Cruz; He carried the day on 13 de Maio street, now Abolição, in Engenho de Dentro, in parties of old. He was an obligatory figure in all the “pagodes,” outshining the famous singers. When—in parlors or outdoors at night—he sang the lyrics of the great Catullo, he garnered from the people the greatest applause! Obliging the other singers to retire backstage! This singer, who made so many hearts pulsate, is also unhappily sleeping the sleep of eternity.

In 1968, Pixinguinha gave a testimonial at the Museu da Imagem e do Som (MIS) in Rio de Janeiro. In the course of his testimonial, the composer mentioned José Monteiro as one of the Batutas who had traveled to Europe and was asked:

MISJosé Monteiro is that guitarist and singer of modinhas from Engenho de Dentro?
PixinguinhaSo it would appear. He was a dark and thin singer who was a regular at the Chave de Ouro. He sang well. According to João da Bahiana, he lived in rua Vista Alegre, in Encantado, and worked as a bricklayer in the Workshops of Engenho de Dentro.

It’s not much to go on, and there’s no direct evidence to link the Batuta José Monteiro with the composition of “O Boi no Telhado.” I asked Sérgio Cabral for his opinion, and he replied:

The references to José Monteiro that I encountered are the same ones you have. I think, however, that there’s no escaping this evidence: all the references to José Monteiro that appear in exactly the same period deal with the same person, since nothing indicates the existence of more than one José Monteiro.

And what’s good enough for Sérgio Cabral is good enough for me.

José Monteiro’s composition in Le Boeuf sur le Toit:

Álvaro Sandim (c. 1862–1919)

For a man about whom so little is known, Álvaro Sandim had significant impact on popular Brazilian music. A carioca trombonist, he studied with the composer Francisco Braga. (Apparently, Sandim’s son followed in his father’s footsteps; in 1907, a trombonist by the name of Álvaro Sandim graduated from the Instituto Nacional de Musica with a gold medal.)

Almost everything we know about Sandim came down to us from the reminiscences of Donga. In 1911 he was director of harmony for the Sociedade Dançante Carnavalesca Ninho do Amor, located in São Cristóvão, and two year later he left that position to join the rancho carnavalesco Flor do Abacate in Largo do Machado.

In addition to directing the rancho’s orchestra, Sandim was secretary of the committee that planned and selected the rancho’s enredo. His orchestra was packed with ace musicians, including the young saxophonist and future bandleader Romeu Silva, who had followed Sandim from Ninho do Amor. Dona Ivone Lara’s mother was a singer in the rancho.

Rancho Flor do Abacate

Of the six recordings made by the rancho Flor do Abacate, not even one was composed by Sandim. He contributed various tunes to the rancho’s repertoire, but only the celebrated polka “Flor do Abacate” (1915) was recorded, though not by the group that gave it its name, since the tune lacked lyrics until many years later.

Thanks to its catchy melody, “Flor do Abacate” turned into a standard. The composer, however, continued to wallow in obscurity, if the spelling of his name on music scores and disc labels is any indication. He was variously called A. Sandir, A. Sandin, Santini, and Alvaro Sandy (the latter in Pixinguinha’s arrangement for the Velha Guarda, although it was done under the auspices of Almirante, who knew better). Only the exacting Jacob do Bandolim made sure to spell the name correctly in his 1949 recording.

In addition to “Flor do Abacate,” Sandim had a second French success with the maxixe “E Vem Vovó,” which was an audience favorite for Os Batutas when they played in Paris.

Álvaro Sandim’s composition in Le Boeuf sur le Toit:

III. Cosmopolitans

F. Soriano Robert

A mysterious figure, most likely not Brazilian, F. Soriano Robert made a comet-like trajectory in Rio’s cultural life, appearing in 1916 and disappearing again in 1923. Did Milhaud meet Robert during his sojourn in Rio? He might have done so if he was present at the world première of Villa-Lobos’ Tédio de Alvorada (an early version of Uirapuru), conducted by Robert at the Teatro Municipal of Rio in 1918.

Robert accompanied Villa-Lobos on the piano in a performance of the Pequena Suite for cello and piano, and in 1918, Villa-Lobos dedicated the canção hespanhóla [sic] “Amor y perfídia” to him. The lyrics, by an unidentified author, are in Spanish, and the dedication supports the assumption that Robert was not a Brazilian but originated from a Spanish-speaking country.

Beyond conducting and performing on the concert stage, Robert was active, albeit in a limited way, as a popular composer. Only a few of his songs have emerged so far, and two of those appear in Le Boeuf sur le Toit, making Robert the third most quoted composer in the rondo. Both quoted songs, the samba “Olh’ Abacaxi” and the tango carnavalesco “Seu Amaro Quer,” were published in 1918 and received a single instrumental recording each.

Beyond the Milhaud connection, the two songs share another common link: advertising. “Olh’ Abacaxi!” takes its inspiration and lyrics from a street vendor’s cry that has more recently come to take on the pejorative sense of a shady sales scheme. “Seu Amaro Quer,” on the other hand, is a sales pitch in the guise of a carnaval song. “Olh’ Abacaxi!” was dedicated to Dr. Eduardo França, who commissioned “Seu Amaro Quer.”

“Seu Amaro Quer” advertised an alcohol-laden patent medicine by the name of Vermutin—one of many such preparations marketed in those days. In the piano score, the Vermutin logotype is printed just under the song’s title, in the same size, and the product name is woven into every verse and refrain.

The score makes clear that the tango is the property of Dr. Eduardo França. Dr. França owned the Lugolina laboratory, manufacturer of Vermutin. A pioneer in pharmaceutical advertising, França often commissioned made-to-order popular songs—the jingles of yesteryear.

The piano score of “Seu Amaro Quer” brazenly proclaimed the song to be “O Maior sucesso do carnaval de 1918,” although it never reached the level of true hits of that year, like “A Baratinha,” “Quem São Eles?,” “O Matuto,” “Vamo Maruca, Vamo,” or “O Boi no Telhado” (the last three quoted in Le Boeuf).

In 1919, Dr. França organized the first-ever carnaval song competition, at the Teatro Lírico in Rio, 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” by Abdon Lyra. The song was a total failure in the carnaval, but that didn’t stop Dr. França from offering it to Fred Figner in 1921 for recording on a Casa Edison disc. Also offered was the slow waltz “Vermutin,” composed by F. Soriano Robert. There is no evidence that either jingle was ever committed to wax.

Another popular song composed by Robert was the Hino do América (1922), with lyrics by Americano Maia. This official anthem replaced the football club’s original song, written in 1915 by Freire Júnior and Luiz França, and was in turn supplanted in 1949 by Lamartine Babo’s version of the American song “Row Row Row” (James Monaco/William Jerome) from the Broadway musical Ziegfeld Follies of 1912.

F. Soriano Robert’s compositions in Le Boeuf sur le Toit:

Eduardo Souto

Eduardo Souto (1882–1942)

According to Ary Vasconcelos, Eduardo Souto was born to an important family in Santos, São Paulo.

At the age of eleven he came to Rio de Janeiro to study. Won over by music, he began to study it with Prof. Derbelly, making rapid progress. At 14 he presented his excited family with the waltz “Amorosa.” As his family’s financial situation worsened, he was obliged to interrupt his engineering studies during his third year at the Escola Politécnica and to arrange employment at the Banco Francês. However, he continued to be fascinated by music, and went to visit the conductor José Nunes at Teatro S. José whenever he had free time. In 1917, he managed a music store in rua do Ouvidor. His masterpiece, “O Despertar da Montanha,” dates from 1919 and made him world-renowned. […]

He founded Casa Carlos Gomes in rua Gonçalves Dias, which became the favorite meeting point of the great composers of that time. He was artistic director of Odeon and Parlophon. Orchestrator and conductor of symphonic music, he led concerts in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Souto’s tunes, composed in a myriad of genres, received no fewer than 281 recordings on 78-rpm discs, but the samba carnavalesco “Para Todos” (1919), with lyrics by Norberto Bittencourt, aka K.K. Reco, isn’t one of them. The score, whose cover is filled with cartoons of dancing couples, was published by Eduardo Souto’s own Casa Carlos Gomes, just as so many of his tunes were recorded by Orquestra Eduardo Souto and by Grupo Eduardo Souto at Odeon, where he was artistic director.

Eduardo Souto’s composition in Le Boeuf sur le Toit:

IV. Regionalists

Catulo da Paixão Cearense

Catulo da Paixão Cearense (1866–1946)

Whether or not Le Boeuf is a work of plagiarism, it quotes at least one work with disputed authorship. “Caboca di Caxangá” (1913), a nordestino country tune, has been variously classified as canção, toada, embolada, batuque sertanejo, and samba. With the appellation samba, it predates “Pelo Telefone” by three years.

Both music and lyrics are registered to the popular poet Catulo da Paixão Cearense, although it’s commonly accepted that Catulo learned the tune from João Pernambuco (1883–1947). At his Museu da Imagem e do Som interview, Pixinguinha testified that he had heard João Pernambuco play the “Caboca” tune before Catulo wrote the lyrics. The guitarist very likely collected the song from the public domain.

During the course of many years, Almirante mounted a campaign to redress the omission. In his book No Tempo de Noel Rosa, Almirante devoted several pages to the issue, quoting from an interview that Catulo had given to the Diário de Notícias of Lisbon on 30 January 1935:

... when my most important poetic work was at its start, there appeared to me João Pernambuco, who had come from the north and, in addition to playing guitar very well, brought me a vocabulary still unperverted by contact with cultured language.

Everaldo José dos Santos summarizes the story succinctly:

In an interview with Joel Silveira in the 1940s, Catulo da Paixão Cearense declared himself “a sertanejo of the sertão,” boasting of his ability to describe it very well, even though he didn’t know it. Part of this ability he should have credited to the guitarist João Pernambuco (João Teixeira Guimarães), to whom he was close for a number of years and who furnished him not only with several musical themes but also with a varied sertanejo vocabulary that he would use in his verses. One exemple of this collaboration is the composition “Caboca de Caxangá,” which entered history signed only by the poet.

Inspired by a toada that João showed him with the guitarist’s melody composed over popular verse, Catulo wrote extensive lyrics, impregnated with names of trees (taquara, oiticica, imbiruçu), animals (urutau, coivara, jaçanã), localities (Jatobá, Cariri, Caxangá, Jaboatão), and peregrinations around the nordestino sertão, from which was born in 1913 the embolada “Caboca de Caxangá,” classified in the disc as batuque sertanejo. And it was born for success, which would extend to the carnaval of 1914, much to the disgust of Catulo, who thought the song was been depreciated in the mouths of the foliões.

Almirante informs that the song was first published in the volume Lyra dos Salões (Rio de Janeiro: Quaresma, 1913), and, that as a gesture of gratitude to his undoubted collaborator, Catulo dedicated the song “Ao Pernambuco, o insigne violãonista.”

Cláudio Carvalho Moreira and Zezão Castro, who created the now defunct website Música Nordestina at the Univerisdade Federal da Bahia, identify “Caboca de Caxangá” as “a primeira música de tonalidades rítmicas regionalistas, lembrando os folguedos do ’Norte’” and add that the first recording “constitui-se portanto no momento zero em que a incipiente indústria fonográfica categorizou um segmento musical com referência nítida à região de onde teria vindo.”

Villa-Lobos, emphatic about Catulo’s plagiarism, arranged the very same song for voice and piano and included it in his song cycle Canções Típicas Brasileiras (1919–1935), with only himself credited as author.

Catulo da Paixão Cearense’s “composition” in Le Boeuf sur le Toit:

Juca Castro

Vamo Maruca, Vamo score cover
A score published by Casa Alonso in Montevideo, Uruguay

Of all Milhaud’s silent partners, Juca Castro may be the most obscure. About the only fact known about him is that he composed the 1918 carnaval hit “Vamo Maruca, Vamo,” with lyrics by Paixão Trindade. Variously tagged as a samba, cateretê, baião, and maxixe, “Vamo Maruca, Vamo” went on being performed, recorded, and adapted for decades to come.

According to Manoel Aranha Corrêa do Lago, two of the song’s four sections are insertions of the folkloric tunes “Vamo Maruca, Vamo” and “Co-Co-Có,” both included in Elsie Houston’s collection Chants Populaires du Brésil (Paris, 1930).

José Maria Campos Manzo points out that the first carnaval samba, “Pelo Telefone,” was not called samba carnavalesco on the disc label but simply samba. On the other hand, “Vamo Maruca, Vamo” is one of three so-identified sambas carnavalescos released by the Phoenix and Gaúcho record companies during the same period. Juca Castro himself recorded two of those releases.

“Vamo Maruca, Vamo” was enough of a carnaval success to become the object of imitation. Also in 1918, the legendary guitarist Américo Jacomino, aka Canhoto, released the catira “Nhá Maruca Foi S’Imbora,” a song that bears great resemblance to “Vamo Maruca, Vamo” and that managed to achieve even greater sales that year.

Villa-Lobos also was fond of “Maruca,” which found its way into two of his compositions. It is quoted in the fourth movement (“Miudinho”) of Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4 (1930) and in his Guia Prático (1932-1949), a collection of children’s and folk songs.

Juca Castro’s composition in Le Boeuf sur le Toit:

V. Pianeiros

Ernesto Nazareth in 1903

Ernesto Nazareth (1863–1934)

In 1918, during Milhaud’s stay in Rio, Ernesto Nazareth was playing in the lobby of the Cinema Odeon, to which he dedicated his most famous tango. Milhaud was well acquainted with Nazareth’s music. In his autobiography, he wrote:

One of the best composers of [maxixes and tangos], Nazareth, used to play the piano in front of the door of a cinema on Avenida Rio Branco. His fluid, elusive, and sad playing also helped me acquaint myself better with the Brazilian soul.

Milhaud wasn’t the only European musician to hear Nazareth and marvel at his creations. The Polish pianist Artur Rubinstein visited Brazil the same year and was equally impressed.

Still, when Milhaud touched upon the sources of Le Boeuf sur le Toit, there was nary a word about Nazareth. The French composer did refer briefly to a Portuguese fado, which turned out to be Nazareth’s tango “Ferramenta,” dedicated to the celebrated Portuguese aviator Captain António da Costa Bernardes, popularly known as Ferramenta, who ascended in the balloon “Nacional” above Rio de Janeiro in May 1905. The piano score published by Vieira Machado (V.M. 1268 & Cª) depicts a man in a balloon bearing the legend “Nacional” next to the dedication Homenagem ao arrojado areonauta [sic] Antonio da Costa Bernardes.

“Ferramenta” is one of four Nazareth tunes quoted in Le Boeuf, along with “Carioca,” “Escovado,” and “Apanhei-te, Cavaquinho.” Ernesto Nazareth left 211 compositions, all of them now online, and many receiving their first-ever recordings, thanks to the pianist and researcher Alexandre Dias.

Ernesto Nazareth’s compositions in Le Boeuf sur le Toit:

Oswaldo Cardoso de Menezes Filho (1893–1935)

While still in his teens, the carioca Oswaldo Cardoso de Menezes Filho became the pianist of the famous rancho Kananga do Japão and spent several years playing at a beer hall on Rua Visconde do Rio. He was a member of several carnaval associations, such as Sociedade Dançante Carnavalesca Paladinos Brasileiros and Grupo Dançante Carnavalesco Tome Abença da Vovó. The artistic name he used was simply Menezes Filho. Although he published a number of tunes, Cardoso de Menezes never recorded or appeared on the radio. Today he’s best known as the father of famed pianist Carolina Cardoso de Menezes.

The composer became Milhaud’s silent partner by way of his polka-tango “A Mulher do Bode” (1918). Thanks to Almirante, who presented “A Mulher do Bode” on his Rádio Tupi series O Pessoal da Velha Guarda, we know about several anecdotes that surround this tune, all of them said to be highly interesting. According to one of these stories, Cardoso de Menezes found his inspiration in a woman of ample physical attributes who used to frequent a Rio cinema, accompanied by a gentleman sporting an equally copious beard. It’s unfortunate that the radio announcer, perhaps for lack of time, desisted from telling the other stories.

Oswaldo Cardoso de Menezes’ composition in Le Boeuf sur le Toit:

VI. National Icons

Alberto Nepomuceno

Alberto Nepomuceno (1864–1920)

Many years after he had left Rio de Janeiro, Darius Milhaud still remembered the composers he came to know during his two years in Brazil. In 1942 or ’43, while he was on the faculty of Mills College in Oakland, Milhaud wrote:

Alberto Nepomuceno, who was called the father of nationalism in Brazilian music, was a charming and modest man whom I knew very well. He was an excellent teacher and played the piano remarkably. Among his works are an opera and orchestral compositions such as the Prelude of Gara Tuja, a symphony and a Brazilian Suite.

How very surprising, then, that Milhaud never so much as hinted that Nepomuceno was also the author of Quatro peças líricas op. 13, of which the fourth peça was “Galhofeira,” quoted in Le Boeuf sur le Toit.

Caio Sílvio Braz elaborates on the composer’s contribution to Brazil’s national music:

Nepomuceno was no mere precursor. He left more than 200 compositions, a hundred songs, orchestral pieces, trios, etc. He built the foundation of modern Brazilian music. We can anticipate Villa-Lobos by hearing [Nepomuceno’s] “Brasileira” of 1919 or Ernesto Nazaré in the “Galhofeira” of 1894, and so many others inspired by popular music, which he knew so well and knew how to value […]

A year after composing “Galhofeira,” Nepomuceno presented a series of his songs in Portuguese for the first time at the Instituto Nacional de Música. The concert challenged the established order and critics who maintained that the Portuguese language was inappropriate for bel canto. Responding to this criticism, Nepomuceno declared: “A people who does not sing in its language is a countryless people.”

In her description of Alberto Nepomuceno’s work collected in the United States Library of Congress, Susana Salgado judges “Galhofeira” to be the best example of the composer’s “vivacious and spontaneous dance-like urban tunes as the maxixe and the choro.”

Alberto Nepomuceno’s composition in Le Boeuf sur le Toit:
  • Galhofeira (No. 4 in Quatro peças líricas, op. 13; 1894)

Chiquinha Gonzaga on her 85th birthday

Chiquinha Gonzaga (1847–1935)

So much has been written about Francisca Edwiges Neves Gonzaga that it seems superfluous to repeat it here. In 1917, while Darius Milhaud was living in Brazil, Chiquinha Gonzaga was one of the composers responsible for the establishment of the Sociedade Brasileira de Autores Teatrais (SBAT), the first organization formed to protect authors’ rights. Over the years, she saw many of her works plagiarized, and some claim that the use of her “Gaúcho” (1895) in Le Boeuf sur le Toit is one of those cases.

Perhaps the best way to do her justice in this limited space is to quote one of her contemporaries, the chorão Animal:

Maestrina e compositora. Chiquinha Gonzaga, foi uma das primeiras pianistas em todo o Brasil, conhecia o piano por dentro e por fóra. Era de um gosto extraordinario como nenhum ainda appareceu. Chiquinha, era de uma educação finissima, de um tratamento sublime, na sua casa, recebia todos com o maior carinho, sempre risonha e composto por ella pois são innumeros, e fazia a delicia dos que a escutavam. Tocava tambem o classico, tinha grande predilecção pelas musicas de Carlos Gomes, que ella conhecia com grande proficiencia, tambem adorava as musicas de Verdi, Puccini, Leoncavallo, Paganini e muitos outros grandes musicos. Infelizmente falleceu a pouco tempo deixando grandes saudades aos que a conheciam.
Chiquinha Gonzaga’s composition in Le Boeuf sur le Toit:

Structure of Le Boeuf sur le Toit


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