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By Kirsten Weinoldt
In the middle of the 60’s, when all my girl friends had Paul McCartney, John Lennon,
and Mick Jagger as pin-ups, I already had Vinicius on my side table. I was
"introduced" to his lyrics and poetry by my mothera poet herselfand
I was devastated by his poems. Vinicius created a revolution in the way lyrics and poetry
were written in Brazil and had a tremendous influence on the generation that followed and
adored him (Chico, Caetano, and Gil to mention the three greatest). He created a
revolution in my life, in my way of seeing the world and in my demeanor. He led his life
following his poems, and he lived a true poet’s life. Nothing was fake about him. In the
middle of the 70’s, I had the chance to meet him in London, and the man was even greater
than the poet. A wonderful friendship began, and in 1978 we married. He taught me nearly
all I know about life. He gave me confidence, happiness, knowledge, and love, love, love.
In spite of the difference in age (he was 38 years older than I), he was my
"sort" because he wasn’t afraid of life, and I took care of him. His life was
pure love that he spread among family, thousands of friends and women in general and
especially to the nine elected to be by his side. I thank God that Vinicius saved some
love to give me at the very end of his life. Saravá, Vinicius!
Gilda Mattoso, widow of Vinicius (who graciously agreed to write her tribute especially
for this article. At the same time, she clarified the question of accent in Vinicius’
name. There is none.)
Marcus Vinicius da Cruz de Mello Moraes was born on October 19, 1913 in Rio de Janeiro.
The name was inspired by the protagonist of the novel Quo Vadis, and it was the way
in which his father, Clodoaldo Pereira da Silva Moraes, paid homage to this character. As
it turned out, the life of the poet was in many ways a restless and turbulent one, like
that of the character of the most famous version of the moviethe 1951 release in
which the role was portrayed by Robert Taylor.
Vinicius’ father used to recite poetry in the home, and his mother, Dona Lydia, played
guitar during family reunions. The son followed both vocations of poet and musician,
composing his first songs while still at the Santo Ignácio School with the Tapajó
Brothers. And young Vinicius wrote his first poem at the age of 7. Since childhood, he was
a fanatic about the magic of moving images: One of his favorite diversions was to project
images onto a sheet hung on a wall in his parents’ house. This interest of his would later
turn into one of his many careers.
In the early thirties he earned a bachelor’s degree in language and literature. He
attended law school, and it was during this time that he published his first book, O
Caminho para a Distância (The Road to the Distance). In 1935, he published another
work, Forma e Exegese (Form and Literary Interpretation). It was followed in 1936
with Arianathe Woman, which is the height of his first phase filled with
mystical sensation. Then he began using a more popular syntax, and his poetry was charged
with sensuality in Cinco Elegias (Five Elegies). It was also around this time that
he worked as a film censor.
In 1938, he departed for Oxford University on a scholarship to study English
literature. His studies there, however, were interrupted by the onset of World War II, and
he was forced to return to Brazil. While in Oxford, he was influenced by poets such as
Rimbaud, Verlaine, Leopardi and even Shakespeareprobably the principal source of
stimulus for his sonnets. He also admired the work of Spaniard Federico Garcia Lorca and
Brazilian writers such as Octávio de Faria and Lúcio Cardoso. His Catholic upbringing
was responsible for the eternal conflict between the flesh and the spirit present in his
poetry. During the Second World War, he cultivated sympathies for Nazism until he met Luiz
Carlos Prestes who contributed to his transformation into a man of the left.
In 1941, he embarked on a career as a journalist. His first assignment was with the
newspaper A Manhã (The Morning) as a film critic. Although he defined himself as
simply a "fan of the seventh art," he possessed, already then, a more refined
vision of cinema, a consequence of his close friendship with writer Otávio de Faria,
erudite expert on the subject and one of the founders of Chaplin Club, in whose sessions
Vinicius learned to adore "Carlitos" (Charles Chaplin) above all else and to
consider talkies heresy.
In his first column, he published a mimicry of a prayerhis cinematographic credo,
which began as follows: "I believe in Cinema, silent art, daughter of image, original
element of poetry and infinite visual arts, simple cell of ephemeral duration and freely
He was a great admirer of the classic silent-film makers, Eisenstein, Dreyer, and
Murnau and fought a holy war against the talkies, which he considered a "diversion
for the ignorant masses." In fact, Vinicius was not crazy about silent films with
subtitles of any kind, nor even musiceven the kind that occurred when a lone pianist
accompanied the showing of the film. An important ingredient of being a renaissance man
is, of course, to constantly learn and growand Vinicius was nothing if not that.
Thus, from being adamantly opposed to talkies, a controversy Orson Welles found very
entertaining, he did a 180. During his diplomatic assignment in Los Angeles (the
alternative was Moscow, which Vinicius turned down), he quickly became a citizen of
Hollywood. All his purism vanished. Soon, he was on a first name basis with Donald Duck!
This assignment in Los Angeles as vice consul started in 1946, and the
"party" lasted for almost five years. From the diplomatic mansion on Redondo
Boulevard, as often as he could, he would get away to go to the movies. He also went to
the private showings of Alex and Elza Viany on Highland Avenue. Viany was the president of
the Foreign Correspondents’ Association in Hollywood, had access to collections of films,
and Vinicius had the chance to watch, again and again, his favorite movies by D.W.Griffith
and Buster Keaton.
Vinicius also edited the only two issues of the magazine Filme. One of his great
passions, Charles Chaplin, was on the cover of the first issue. He also got to attend the
shooting of Orson Welles’ The Lady From Shanghai with Rita Hayworth. Vinicius, who
loved women, was only too happy to keep company with such goddesses as Marlene Dietriech,
Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Paulette Goddard, Ava Gardner "the antithesis of the Ten
Commandments", and Lana Turner, "for whom nature rounded all the edges."
At some time during his stay in Los Angeles, he had time to write and publish Poemas,
Sonetos e Baladas (Poems, Sonnets, and Ballads). His style of poetry had by now become
enriched with a sense of social consciousness. He also wrote some of his most famous works
Livro do Sonetos (Book of Sonnets), Procura-se um Amigo (Looking for a
Friend), and Para Viver um Grande Amor (To Live a Great Love). His lyricism was
written in the sensual style which had become his trade mark.
Vinicius spent the next couple of years in Brazil. He liked having a good time and
spent much of his time "hanging out" with friends at a popular Rio bar, Casa
Villarino. Nobody would ever go as far as saying that so many thoughts and ideas would not
have seen the light of day but for the existence of Casa Villarino, but it became almost a
sacred place the way Mecca is to those of the Islamic faith.
Ruy Castro in his book about bossa nova, Chega de Saudade (No More Blues)
has the following to say about it:
"If all the great ideas that you find around a bottle of whiskey came to life at
the last drop, Casa Villarino on the corner of Avenida das Calógeras and Presidente
Wilson, then in safe, potable, and civilized Rio, should be on the list of national
monuments. In and around the fifties, a valiant pack of Bohemians planned the best radio
programs, the definitive poems, the plays which would make posterity drool, the most
devastating sambas-canção, the overthrow of some presidents and, with or without
just motive, the destruction of the purest reputations. It is true that almost all of this
happened only in the imagination of those frequenting the placenot that they didn’t
have the talent, but because they were more interested in going on drinking to, in
reality, put their plans into practice. It is almost unbelievable that the partnership
between Vinicius and Tom Jobim could have been born in Casa Villarino."
Ronaldo Bôscoli, one of the central players of bossa nova, was not happy when
he became aware that Vinicius, then 38, was hanging around his sister, Lila, 19. He was
still of the school of thought that a sister needed brotherly protection. For the
passionate Vinicius, such amorous incidences were commonplace. In this case, however, he
was still with his first wife, Tati. Vinicius and Tati, together 13 years, appeared to be
inseparable. She exercised great influence over Vinicius. It was she, along with American
socialist Waldo Frank, who was responsible for swaying Vinicius from his decidedly
pro-Hitler and Mussolini sympathies. Up until that time he had rooted for that alliance in
the war in the same way he rooted for Botafogo in soccer. His wife’s influence, however,
caused such a radical turnabout that in 1946, he was enamored of the idea of joining the
Communist Party. He was dissuaded from doing so. It was probably just as well. Vinicius
had a horror of bureaucrats and likely would not have stood for the discipline of the
Having convinced Bôscoli that his intentions were honorable where it came to Lila, he
separated from Tati and started living with Lila. The salary of diplomats stationed in
Brazil was meager, and they lived in an apartment without light or refrigerator on Rua
Francisco Otaviano. Bôscoli was at that time a reporter for the paper Última Hora.
The publisher, Samuel Wainer, offered Vinicius some added income for being a film critic
and gave him a daily chronicle. He was also put in charge of a "Dear Abbey"
column, responding to the lovelorn, female readers under the pseudonym Helenice, something
that amused him a great deal.
His "suffering" at Última Hora lasted two years. In 1953, he left
behind his life as a film critic, columnist, and lonely hearts advisor, took Lila, and
went to his new diplomatic assignment in Paris, where Orfeu da Conceição (Orpheus
of the Conception)the Carioca favela version of the Greek myth of Orpheus and
Eurydice, first saw the light of day.
Upon his return from Paris in 1956, Vinicius was ready to put music to Orfeu. It
was a natural thing for him to turn to his brother-in-law, Ronaldo Bôscoli for advice on
a composer. Bôscoli had his finger on the pulse of the Carioca music scene and
hung out at the right places. Vinicius let it be known that he was looking for someone
"modern" to score the play. Vinicius also relied on Bôscoli for proper slang
expressions for his play.
He did not consider himself very "up" on current street language. For one
thing, at this time, Vinicius was still somewhat conservative, but he had also lived
outside Brazil for some time. When Bôscoli suggested Tom Jobim as the composer for Orfeu,
Vinicius tended to accept his judgment. Bôscoli and his friend, Chico Feitosa, who became
Vinicius’ secretary, showed up to help with the preparations, and Lila made figurines of
Tom Jobim was finishing up an engagement at the Odeon on Avenida Rio Branco and could
not join Bôscoli and Feitosa at Vinicius’ house. Journalist Lúcio Rangel set up the
meeting at Casa Villarino, and after Tom Jobim had inquired if there would be any money, (dinheirinho,
a little money) in the project, the rest became history.
Most of the work with Orfeu took place at the house on Rua Nascimento Silva 107,
Tom Jobim’s house. Vinicius’ own house was impractical for work, as it soon became an
"open house" for all the friends of Vinicius and Lila who wandered in and out at
Vinicius and Tom workedand drank. Vinicius liked his whiskey, though he did not
drink while writing poetry. Orfeu, however, was popular music, which changed
things. Tom was a beer drinker, but at the advice of Vinicius, he exchanged the barley for
malt. As Vinicius said, "Beer is a waste of time."
Orfeu da Conceição débuted at the Teatro Municipal on September 25, 1956 with
set designs by architect Oscar Niemeyerthe genius of Brasíliawhich caused a
great stir. There was a ramp leading to a platformNiemeyer’s image of a morro
(hill, like the ones found in Rio), home of many favelas (shantytowns).
Candinho was supposed to play the guitar, but he couldn’t read music. Tom had suggested
Luiz Bonfá, and so it was. Tom Jobim, who suffered from stage fright, should have
conducted the orchestra, but his fear won out, and Léo Peracchi picked up the baton. Orfeu
played for full houses, but only for a week. Vinicius must have been unsure of the
potential of his play and had reserved the theater for merely a week.
The black cast, consisting of Haroldo Costa, who played Orfeu, Léa Garcia, Mira, and
Dirce Paiva, Eurídice, was beautiful. It was said at the time that it was the first time
an all black cast had performed at the Teatro Municipal. That was not quite true, however,
as a production of O’Neill’s Emperor Jones had been produced there before.
Teatro República had no prior engagement, and the play moved. A couple of days into
the performance, Abdias do Nascimento, who played Aristeu, accused Vinicius of taking
advantage of the black actors. Vinicius, who just a few years later would be known as
"the blackest white man in Brazil," was offended and fired him. Instead, he
hired Chico Feitosa, whose handicap for playing the role was that he was white. No
problem. He appeared in blackfaceand the crowds did not seem to mind. Out of the
stage lights Chico was courting Eurídice (Paiva). Having been a great success in Rio, the
play was to move to Teatro Municipal in São Paulo. The set was dismantled and
shippedand was never seen again.
The Orfeu score, which consisted of a number of beautiful songs, was somewhat
overshadowed by Se Todos Fossem Iguais a Você (If everyone were like you).
At Casa Villarino, Tom Jobim had asked if there would be "a little money" in
the project. As it turned out, that became a prophecy, as they went on to be very
successful, and bossa nova became the craze.
Without a doubt, the start of bossa nova and one of the most played songs of
that era and the next was Chega de Saudade with music by Tom Jobim. Vinicius and
Tom had created it and then put it in a pile of songs, where it remained for more than a
Tom had composed the song while visiting his family in Petrópolis. He arrived at the
house of Vinicius, who was on his way out the door, leaving for Paris. He took a look at
the songand stayed a few more days to write the lyrics.
Nobody could have known that ground had been broken for a revolution. In fact, the
reaction of the people who heard it ranged from disdain to indifference. Lila had a
comment, "How silly, trying to rhyme peixinhos with beijinhos (pois
há menos peixinhos a nadar no mar, do que os beijinhos que eu darei na sua bocafor
there are less little fishes swimming in the sea, than the little kisses I will give in
your mouth). Vinicius’ response was, "Oh stop being sophisticated."
Years later, Vinicius acknowledged that one of the greatest thrashings his work had
received, had been bestowed on this song. Fortunately, it was dug out of potential
oblivion and recorded, first by Elizete Cardoso and then, with thundering success, by
In 1959, French film maker Marcel Camus in a French-Brazilian production, put Orfeu on
celluloid in the now classic Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus)later to become the
firstand lastingimpression of Brazil for many foreigners all over the world,
including this author. It went on to win several awards, among them the Golden Palm in
Cannes and the Academy Award for best foreign film. It starred Breno Mello as Orfeu and
Marpessa Dawn as Eurídice. It also put bossa nova on the world map.
In 1962 Vinicius was in his first big show with Tom Jobim and João Gilberto at the Bon
Gourmet nightclub. During this period, he participated in film festivals in Cannes,
Berlin, Locarno, and in Venice, and in 1966 he was on the international film jury at the
Cannes Film Festival. In the 70’s, he embarked on an extensive partnership with Toquinho
that took him on many travels and university tours. In particular, Italian and Argentine
audiences adored him.
In 1980, on the 9th of July, at the age of 66, Vinicius died in his beloved
Rio in the bathtub where he loved to spend time and from where he had conducted interviews
and meetings. Brazil and the world had lost a unique renaissance man. And, as is always
the case when a man like that passes, everybody steps up to the plate and offers their
evaluation of his life, his loves, likes and dislikes, in fact, every facet that shone its
light on the survivors.
It is as a poet, of course, that Vinicius is most well known and loved. To this day,
more than 40 years after the start of bossa nova, his songs are still heard on the
radio and in the heart of the Brazilian people. Those words of strong emotion and
overwhelming love have never lost their power. His passion has always rung true, which
accounts for the staying power of the lyrics. His poetry denotes a certain religious
impregnation, in long poems with biblical emphasis, which he abandoned little by little in
favor of his natural tendency: intimate, personal poetry with a return to physical love,
with a language at the same time realistic, colloquial, and lyrical.
Established in the movement of bossa nova, composed with Tom Jobim The Girl
from Ipanema, the symbol of an era. He formed many wonderful partnerships with other
composers such as Baden Powell, Carlos Lyra, Ary Barroso, and his "inseparable
friend" Toquinho, about whom he used to say that he had the best possible
relationship, and they "just didn’t have sex." And in the bathtub, where he
died, he used to let himself feel lazy, chat with friends, and always have that
indispensable glass of whiskey. He had a habit of saying that whiskey was a man’s best
friend, "a bottled dog."
"Luciana’s Page" on the Internet has this to say about his poetry:
"In his work, Vinicius expresses with intense anguish, the constant opposition
between matter and spirit, from which results a sensation of sin. The earthly existence
for him takes shape as chaos, the abyss. He looks in mysticism for the solution for that
clash. This is the predominant vision of the world in O Caminho para a Distância (The
Road to the Distance).
In that context, love, by the fact of linking man to the earthly worldhas a
negative connotation, from the start. In the following book, Forma e Exegese (Form
and Literary Interpretation), however, love begins to assume the role of strength which
would permit uniting the material and the spiritual, especially in the figure of the
idealized woman. The poet begins to distance himself from the mystical plane and searches,
in the reality of daily life, a way out of his anxiety. In "Ariana, the Woman,"
long poem published as a book, and New Poems, emerge the first signs of sensuality
and eroticism which later will characterize his work."
Other themes, however, also permeated his work. Death was one of those, as almost all
poets, especially in the pieces he produced between the forties and fifties. In addition,
he was also a poet with social worries, as he demonstrated after the poem Operário em
Construção (Construction Worker) and the play As Feras (The Beasts).
The Film Critic
Vinicius’ original purist view of silent films vs. talkies was well known, and there
would come a time when his words would come back to haunt him. Journalists would question
him on his militant stance against talkies and the turnabout after his stay in Los
Angeles. He decided to once and for all put his cinematographic conservatism to rest and
told the world in his usual and sometimes self deprecating manner, "I was and
continue to be, not a cinematographic mute, as many think, just a little bit of a
And it was this humor, paired with his keen insight into and enthusiasm for film that
prompted him to put together a futebol, soccer, team consisting of the best
filmmakers of that time:
Chaplin on goal, Griffith and Stroheim as fullbacks, Eisenstein, Pudovkin, and Dovjenko
in midfield, and in the offense Flaherty, Gance, Vigo, Dreyer, and King Vidor. His team of
actors again found Chaplin along with John Barrymore and Harry Baur, Werner Krauss, Emil
Jannings and Fritz Kortner, Raimu, Orson Welles, Nicolai Cherkassov, Laurence Olivier, and
In April 1945 in an article for Sombraapart from that, overshadowed by an
ingenuous evaluation of Soviet cinema ("never made concessions in the way it shows
life and reality of the people.")gave his list of preferred classics: The
Gold Rush, City Lights, and The Great Dictator by Chaplin; Birth of a
Nation, Intolerance, and Broken Blossoms, by D.W.Griffith; Napoleon by
Abel Gance; Variety by Dupont; Greed and The Wedding March by Stroheim; The
Crowd, Hallelujah, and The Big Parade by Vidor; The Battleship
Potemkin and The General Line by Eisenstein, among others.
Adept at culinary metaphors and audacious parallels, such as comparing Hitchcock to
Mallarmé and Carol Reed to Paul Valéry, Vinicius was, like any and all critics guilty of
some injustices. The most blatant related to the musical film genre, which he detested,
"Gershwin is perhaps the best of the three worst musicians in the world," and
John Ford, whose artistic death he proclaimed in 1951, well before at least three prime
works: The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers (1956), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Was Vinicius a good film critic? If you had asked him, he would have told you that he
was not, nor intended to be a great film critic, but rather just a columnist, whose
material people would find enjoyable. Enjoyable until today, especially when he set aside
a certain edifying tone. Every so often, the movies served him as a mere pretext for
speaking on other topics, such as the art of making out in semi darkness without
attracting attention. Even a bike trip with Rubem Braga was explored in his column.
He was intimate with the esthetic of cinema, he was cultured, sensitive, intelligent,
and inventive, but he did not appear to bring much seriousness to his trade, perhaps
because he did not take it seriously. And with good reason, what with the bulk of the
cinematic productions submitted for his scrutiny.
His major deficiency as a critic, according to Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes, was not to
be able to put one argument after another and draw a conclusion, and that his major virtue
was his humor.
José Castello of daily O Estado de S. Paulo writes:
"The relationship of Vinicius with the movies is usually reduced to three aspects.
The first, his hard fought battle against the talkies, which is treated much as an oddity.
The second, his intimacy, more or less intense, with the celebrities of Hollywood, is
considered a worldly sin. Finally, there is an aspect considered somewhat negative, his
dubious taste and the soft arguments in his "reviews"and here the
quotation marks are fundamental, because they indicate the nonsense of this
"Vinicius, the poet, continues to be equally misunderstood. His relationship with
the movies was always, moreover, that of a passionate spectator, the kind who, in
principle, likes everything and when he does not like it, it is more because of a bad mood
than conviction. His chronicles, of a rambling style, in which the cinema sometimes is
only a pretext, never had the intention of rigor nor of a theoretical exercise, but was
just the expression of a passion. Passion: a word that always returns when one speaks of
In another context, José Castello says:
"It is nonsense, therefore, to take Vinicius’ relationship to the movies very
seriouslyand there is nothing belittling in this. On the contrary, the poet, who
always had a tense relationship with the verse, and an exalted one with music, had with
the movies a bond of pure affection, disinterested, full of romanticism, like that of
those little girls who, in the stuffy afternoons of summer, lock themselves in a movie
theater to refresh themselves and to cry.
There is an aspect which, apparently, could contradict all that: The time Vinicius
worked as a film censor. But that was just the bread winning efforts of a young guy
starting out, and in addition, under the argument of backbiting, had the chance to see all
the films he wanted. Vinicius de Moraes was a lover of the cinema, and it is like
thatas love lettersfull of quarrels, but also of exaltation, that his
"critiques" should be read today."
Vinicius as Seen
"In spite of the multiplicity of his talent, Vinicius de Moraes was never well
accepted by the critics of academia. Extremely popular, incorrigible Bohemianin the
most explicit sense of the wordhe wrote in a bubbly manner. Even so, he was admired
by Manuel Bandeira, João Cabral de Melo Neto, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, and Rubem
Braga. To repay the critics who turned on him, he gave himself the luxury of not
recognizing the genius of Guimarães Rosa: "He just wants to be the Brazilian Joyce,
that’s not writing."
"As a diplomat, he angered many conservatives with his appearance in the 100,000
person protest march in 1968, when a young student was shot to death by police in Rio. At
the same time he offended academics by showing up in black tie. Neither side could accept
the non-conformist ways of Vinicius. And when his colleagues were sipping champagne with
foreign dignitaries, he preferred sharing a bottle of whiskey with personalities of the
artistic world such as the poets Pablo Neruda and Nicolás Guillén, film maker Orson
Welles, and musicians Louis Armstrong and Astor Piazzola.
"During one of the first performances of Astor Piazzola’s self-described
"little opera" Maria de Buenos Aires in 1968, a voice rose from the
audience, repeatedly emitting profane exclamations. Backstage, after the show, the culprit
was discovered. It was the Brazilian poet, Vinicius de Moraes, paying homage in his
paradoxical way to the composer’s astonishing achievement."
Pablo Zinger, New York Times, October 4, 1998
Everyone, who knew Vinicius, has his or her own story or opinion about him, and one
would be remiss if one did not mention some of those diverse opinions and anecdotes about
him. After all, just as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so is a person’s entirety
the sum of all the many facets.
"Who is right is Tia Zulmira, when she says, that if Vinicius de Moraes were only
one person, he would not be Vinicius de Moraes, but Vinicius de Moral." Thus ends the
chronicle "The Vinicius de Moraes’es" by columnist Stanislaw Ponte Preta
(or Sérgio Porto as they like).
Singer Toni Garrido of the group Cidade Negra is the protagonist in the remake
of Orfeu Negro and declares his admiration for the author: "Vinicius is
illuminating me and filling my life with poetry. I have the objective of making this Orfeu
more beautiful because I know how he (Orfeu) was important to Vinicius." You could
say that the poet continues to be present in the cultural life of Brazil.
"I remember Vinicius in Ouro Preto (baroque town in Minas Gerais). He was staying
at the house of Chico Rei. I arrived with guitar in hand and he received me, listened to
me, and adopted me. He was very important in my career. Through him, I got to know the
true MPB (Música Popular Brasileira, Brazilian Popular Music), in a much more acute form.
He began writing lyrics for my songs. From that meeting on, I started dreaming about a
much more definitive form of music. To do that, having besides the observations and advice
of Vinicius, is something which left its mark on me."
João Bosco, singer and composer.
"Vinicius was a great poet. A very happy person who, in spite of being a diplomat,
left it all behind to live as a Bohemian. He spoke several languages, was an intellectual
and never let that, his great culture extrapolate the capacity for communication with
people of all kinds. Among the phrases he always used with me, I remember one: "To
drink beer is a waste of time, let’s drink whiskey right away." The most beautiful
phase in his career, in my opinion, is the partnerships with Carlos Lyra and Tom Jobim. He
was a very likable figure, charismatic and always in a good mood. In addition, he was a
Luiz Carlos Vinhas, pianist.
"Vinicius is a person about whom you don’t forget anything. We had a great and
constant friendship. Sometimes, people forget that he died. When he went away, there was a
void which will never be filled. He was a happy person, pleasant, and we spent many
Carnavals together. Living with him was always very good."
Olívia Hime, singer and composer.
"Vinicius was a person in love with the movies, a splendid columnist, the two
things came together in his reviews, which resulted in a valuable whole. He is one of the
most important critics in the country, next to Octávio Faria and Paulo Emílio Salles
Alexei Bueno, author of Vinicius de Moraes, poesia completa e prosa
"An author, very interesting, very rich, very present in the soul of the Brazilian
people." Alexei Bueno
Vinicius spoke and sang about love in numerous forms and with the sensitivity of few.
Perhaps, it was the close connection between romanticism and the feminine figure, which so
fascinated him. "The ugly will pardon me, but beauty is fundamental," was one of
the phrases which became famous on the exaltation of feminine beauty by the poet. The
passion, the suffering, the unconditional surrender. To him, love meant more than just a
feeling, it was a state of spirit.
"The work of Vinicius has been compared to one of those Russian dolls that come
apart in the middle and reveal a similar, but smaller doll inside, which also comes apart
and so on and so forth. But the comparison, which at the beginning is tempting, because
Vinicius was a poet who multiplied himself with impressive speed, fails in two aspects.
First, unlike the Russian dolls, the work inside the hollow of the one before is not
necessarily smaller than the one that preceded it. Another difference from the Russian
dolls, is that it is not always the same inside, in fact, it is always different and
"It is the great feat of the organizer, Alexei Bueno, that he did justice to a man
who lived in abundance and with paradox, who never was afraid to err and to correct
himself, and who never was totally happy inside himself. But it was because he never fled
from conflicts, never dodged them, that Vinicius became the great poet that he was."
From review of Bueno’s Vinicius de Moraes, poesia completa e prosa from the
magazine Bravo, July 1998
Although it has been 19 years since Vinicius left this world, he is barely forgotten.
Last year, Nova Aguilar issued a collection of his his work Vinicius de Moraes, poesia
completa e prosa (Vinicius de Moraes, complete poetry and prose) organized by Alexei
Bueno. It contains practically everything "The Little Poet" wrote along with
film critics and other pieces, which had been lost or misplaced. It is a mammoth work of
over 1500 pages and sells for around $70. It was received well by the critics, and
although a work like that is only for those serious about reading Vinicius, it is no
longer availablesold out in its first printing.
Back in the late fifties, when Orfeu Negro was on everybody’s lips and a
lifelong love affair was begun between Brazil and many people around the globe, Brazil was
the only country in which the movie was not a success. That, however, is not the case with
the new version, directed by Cacá Diegues and under the musical direction of Caetano
Veloso. On May 5th, Salvador’s A Tarde reported that the newly released Orfeu
do Carnaval was the most watched movie of the past week. The soundtrack was released
about a month earlier by Natasha Records.
Asked about his new version juxtaposed with the original, the director says the
following: "It is understandable that the first version was less popular in Brazil.
It offered a certain utopian vision of the reality in a Brazilian favela, and
perhaps people of that era could not identify with it. Perhaps prejudice had something to
do with it as well. And if middle class people of today associate poverty with crime,
imagine in the fifties, when the film by Camus was released."
Cacá Diegues goes on to say that unlike the French production, his new version is
faithful to the social reality of today’s favela. Orfeu is portrayed by Toni
Garrido, who is a composer for Carnaval, and drug traffickers are among the other
characters. "My version is much closer to the play by Vinicius, whose plot was part
of the social context of Brazil. The favela is a Brazilian synthesis: a social
horror and a boundless cultural treasure."
The soundtrack is a combination of some of Tom Jobim and Vinicius’ classics A
Felicidade and Se todos fossem iguais a você and some brand new songs
composed, in part, by Caetano, O enredo de Orfeu, co-written with Gabriel o
Pensador and Sou você, both sung by Toni Garrido. "We are including two
sambas which were not even in the play. Cacá chose Cântico à Natureza (Song to
Nature) and I chose Os cinco bailes da história do Rio (Five dances of the history
of Rio)," says Caetano. "The samba-enredo by Dona Ivone Lara is my
favorite of all times. I attended the parade of Império Serrano, in 1965, and I learned
the song in the street."
Clearly, a man so capable of creating poetry, prose, plays, reviews, music as well as
the cultural atmosphere of his time, will not go quietly into oblivion. Here’s to you,
Kirsten Weinoldt was born in Denmark and came to the U.S. in 1969. She fell in love
with Brazil after seeing Black Orpheus many years ago and has lived immersed in
Brazilian culture ever since. E-mail: email@example.com
After leaving the diplomatic service, Vinicius threw himself into music and soon became
the "guru of bossa nova." He collaborated with a number of luminaries of
Brazilian music and went on to author, compose and write lyrics of some of the best-loved
Brazilian songs to date.
The following lists a few of those songs.
with Baden Powell:
Canção do Amor Ausente
Canto de Ossanha
with Carlos Lyra:
Coisa Mais Linda
Você e Eu
with Tom Jobim:
Chega de Saudade
O Amor em Paz
Brigas, nunca mais
O Nosso Amor
Eu Sei que vou Te Amar
Por Toda a Minha Vida
O que Tinha de Ser
Canção de Amor Demais
Soneto de Separação
Água de Beber
Ela é Carioca
Só Danço Samba
Garota de Ipanema
Tarde em Itapoã
Canto de Oxum
Maria, Vai com as Outras
Um Homen Chamado Alfredo
O Poeta Aprendiz
Samba da Volta
As Cores de Abril
O Filho que Eu Quero Ter
Cotidiano no. 2
A Benção Bahia
Meu Pai Oxalá
O Velho e a Flor
Mais um Adeus
Como Dizia o Poeta
Para Viver um Grande Amor
São Demais os Perigos Desta Vida
Samba de Orly (with Toquinho and Chico Buarque)
Medo de Amor
Serenata do Adeus
Valsa de Eurídice
In addition to these above mentioned composers and lyricists, Vinicius also had
partnerships with Francis Hime, Tapajós Brothers, Pixinguinha, Garoto, Ary Barroso,
Ernesto Nazareth, and Adoniram Barbosa. Even Johan Sebastian Bach became a partner,
however unknowing, in that Vinicius transformed Jesus, Alegria dos Homens into Rancho
Poetry and Prose
Era uma casa muito engraçada
| The House|
It was a very funny house
Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar
Eu sei que vou te amar
E cada verso meu será
Eu sei que vou chorar
Eu sei que vou sofrer a eterna desventura de viver
| I Know That I Will Love You|
I know I will love you
And each verse of mine will be
I know I will cry
I know I’ll suffer the eternal unhappiness of living
Procura-se Um Amigo
Não precisa ser homem, basta ser humano, basta ter sentimento, basta ter coração.
Não é preciso que seja de primeira mão, nem é imprescindível que seja de segunda
Procura-se um amigo para gostar dos mesmos gostos, que se comova, quando chamado de amigo.
Precisa-se de um amigo que diga que vale a pena viver, não porque a vida é bela, mas
| Looking For a Friend|
You don’t have to be a man, it’s enough to be human, it’s enough to have sentiment, it’s
You don’t have to be first-hand or even second-hand. You may already have been deceitful,
Look for a friend to like the same tastes, who is moved when called a friend. Who knows
One needs a friend who says it’s good to live, not because life is beautiful but because
Soneto Do Amor Total
Amo-te tanto meu amor
Amo-te enfim, de um calmo amor prestante
Amo-te como um bicho, simplesmente
E de te amar assim, muito e amiúde
| Sonnet of a Total Love|
I love you so much my lovedon’t sing
I love you, finally, with a calm, giving love
I love you like an animal, simply
And to love you thus, a lot and often
A Casa Materna
Há, desde a entrada, um sentimento de tempo na casa materna. As grades do portão têm
É sempre quieta a casa materna, mesmo aos domingos, quando as mãos filiais se pousam
A casa materna é o espelho de outras, em pequenas coisas que o olhar filial admirava ao
Na escada há o degrau que estala e anuncia aos ouvidos maternos a presença dos passos
A imagem paterna persiste no interior da casa materna. Seu violão dorme encostado junto
| The Maternal House|
There is, from the entrance, a feeling of time in your mother’s house. The bars on the
The maternal house is always quiet, even on Sundays, when the son’s hands rest on the
The maternal house is the mirror of others, in little things which the filial glance
On the stairs is the step that creaks and announces to the maternal hearing the son’s
The paternal image persists in the interior of the maternal house. His guitar sleeps
Ah, insensatez que você fez
Vai meu coração, ouve a razão
Oh what folly you committed
Go my heart, hear the reason
Onde Anda Você
E por falar em saudade
| Where Are You Going|
And to speak of longing
Carta ao Tom
Rua Nascimento Silva, cento e sete
Rua Nascimento Silva, cento e sete
| Letter for Tom|
Rua Nascimento Silva a hundred and seven
Rua Nascimento Silva a hundred and seven
É claro que a vida é boa
Mas acontece que eu sou triste
It is clear that life is good
But it happens that I am sad
Serenata do Adeus
Ai, a lua que no céu surgiu
Ai, vontade de ficar
Ó mulher, estrela a refulgir
Ah, vontade de ficar
| Serenade of Farewell|
Ah, the moon, which rose to the sky
Ah, willing to stay
Oh woman, star shining
Ah, wanting to stay
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