Culture, Music and Dance
Maria Bethania, Bachianas Brasileiras, Heitor Villa-Lobos, sensual dance, Joao Gilberto
The National Conservatory was established in 1841, and classical music drew upon European and ethnic traditions. There is a strong nationalist element in the work of composer Antonio Carlos Gomes. Brazilís leading classical composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos, blended European traditions and melodies with those of Brazilís African and Native American populations. This blend is perhaps best heard in his Bachianas Brasileiras (1930-1945), a series of nine suites.
The best-known form of popular music is samba, which grew from the rhythm and vocal styles of the Native Americans, Portuguese, and Africans. Samba has come to be particularly associated with the spectacular dance and music competitions that take place each year in Rio de Janeiro during Brazilís Carnival celebration. Although samba, as a dance form, is best seen during Carnival, there are other dances of African origin, such as the ritualized fighting of capoeira, which originated among African slaves. Bumba-meu-boi is a dance that uses drama, dance, instrumental music, and song to recount the mythical tale of the death and resurrection of an ox.
In the 1950s and 1960s bossa nova emerged from a blending of Brazilian popular music with American jazz. Key composers of bossa nova were Joao Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Vinicius de Moraes. In the mid-1960s the addition of electric guitars and elements of rock music resulted in the creation of musica popular brasileira (MPB), associated with musician Chico Buarque and others. MPB focused on urban protest against the military regime that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. In the late 1960s tropicalismo drew upon a range of musical traditions, with Maria Bethania and Caetano Veloso as leading performers. It combined Brazilian folk traditions with rock and roll and popular music styles. Lambada, originating in the Amazon region in the 1970s, is a sensual dance based on Afro-Brazilian rhythms. There are also elements of regional popular music, such as sertanejo in the South and Center-west, which resembles American country music, with simple tunes and themes of love, nostalgia, and hardship.
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