Chico Buarque  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Francisco Buarque de Hollanda (born June 19, 1944 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), popularly known as Chico Buarque, is a singer, guitarist, composer, dramatist, and writer. He is best known for his music, however, which often comments on Brazil's social, economic and cultural reality.

The son of an academic, Buarque wrote and studied literature as a child and came to music through the bossa nova compositions of João Gilberto. He lived in several locations throughout his childhood, though mostly in São Paulo and Italy. He performed music throughout the 1960s as well as writing a play that was deemed dangerous by the Brazilian military dictatorship of the time. Buarque, along with several of his fellow musicians, including Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, were threatened by the government and eventually left Brazil in 1970. Buarque moved back to Italy, Veloso and Gil to London. He came back to Brazil in 1971, a year before the others, and continued to record albums, perform, and write, though much of his material was not allowed by government censors. He released several more albums in the 1980s and published three novels in the 1990s and 2000s, all of which were acclaimed critically.



Buarque came from a privileged intellectual family background—his father Sérgio Buarque de Holanda was a well-known historian, sociologist and journalist and his mother Maria Amélia Cesário Alvim was a painter and pianist. He is also brother of the singer Miúcha. As a child, he was impressed by the musical style of bossa nova, specifically the work of Tom Jobim and João Gilberto. He was also interested in writing, composing his first short story at 18 years old and studying European literature, also at a young age. One of his most consuming interests, however, was playing soccer, beginning at age four, which he still does today. Though he was born in Rio de Janeiro, Buarque spent much of his childhood in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Italy.

Before becoming a musician, Buarque decided at one point to study architecture at the University of São Paulo, but this choice did not lead to a career in that field; for Buarque often skipped classes.

He made his public debut as musician and composer in 1964, rapidly building his reputation at music festivals and television variety shows when bossa nova rhythm came to light and Nara Leão recorded three of his songs. His eponymous debut album exemplified his future work, with catchy sambas characterized by inventive wordplay and an undercurrent of nostalgic tragedy. Buarque had his first hit with "A Banda" in 1966, written about a marching band, and soon released several more singles. Although playing bossa nova, during his career, samba and Música Popular Brasileira would also be widely explored. Despite that, Buarque was criticized by two of the leading musicians at the time, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil as they believed his musical style was overly conservative. However, an existentially themed play that Buarque wrote and composed in 1968, Roda Viva ("Live Cycle"), was frowned upon by the military government and Buarque served a short prison sentence because of it. He left Brazil for Italy for 18 months in 1970, returning to write his first novel in 1972, which was not targeted by censors.

At this time his thinly-veiled protest single "Apesar de Você" ("In spite of You" --in reference to the military dictatorship)was also produced. ("In spite of you") was overlooked by the military censors, becoming an important anthem in the democratic movement. After selling over 100,000 copies, the single was eventually censored and removed from the market. At one point in 1974, the censors banned any song authored by Chico Buarque. Then, he created a pseudonym, naming himself "Julinho da Adelaide", complete with life history and interviews to newspapers. "Julinho de Adelaide" authored songs such as "Jorge Maravilha" and "Acorda amor" before he was outed in Jornal do Brasil news story. Buarque also wrote a play named Calabar, about the Dutch invasion of Brazil in the seventeenth century, drawing parallels with the military regime. Despite the censorship, songs such as "Samba de Orly" (1970), "Acorda amor" (1974, as "Julinho da Adelaide") manifested Buarque's continuing opposition to the military regime.

During the 1970s and 1980s, he collaborated with filmmakers, playwrights, and musicians in further protest works against the dictatorship. Buarque approached the 1983 Concert for Peace in Nicaragua as a valid forum to vocalize his strong political views. Throughout the decade, he crafted many of his songs as vehicles to describe the re-democratization of Brazil. The Concert for Peace in Nicaragua was one in a concert series known as the "Central American Peace Concerts." These concerts featured various Latin American artists. The political turmoil that plagued this era were expressed in many of Buarque's songs. He later wrote Budapeste, a novel that achieved critical national acclaim and won the Prêmio Jabuti, a Brazilian literary award comparable to the Man Booker Prize.


During Brazil's military coup d'état of 1964, Buarque wrote about the events which transpired and avoided censorship by using cryptic analogies and wordplay. For example, in the song "Cálice" ("Chalice", or Jesus' Last Supper "Cup"), a duet written and performed with Gilberto Gil, he takes advantage of the homophony between the Portuguese imperative "shut your mouth" --cale-se-- and "chalice" --cálice-- to protest censorship against freedom of speech by the dictatorship, disguised as the Gospel narrative of Jesus' Gethsemani prayer to the Father to pass from Him the chalice of bloody death probation. The line "I wanna sniff diesel fume" is a reference to the death of political prisoner Stuart Angel, which had his mouth glued to a jeep's exhaust pipe during a torture session. Buarque was a friend of his mother Zuzu.

Template:Col-2Lyrics (in Portuguese)
Pai, afasta de mim esse cálice
De vinho tinto de sangue.
Como beber dessa bebida amarga
Tragar a dor, engolir a labuta.
Mesmo calada a boca, resta o peito
Silêncio na cidade não se escuta.
De que me vale ser filho da santa
Melhor seria ser filho da outra
Outra realidade menos morta
Tanta mentira, tanta força bruta.

Como é difícil acordar calado
Se na calada da noite eu me dano
Quero lançar um grito desumano
Que é uma maneira de ser escutado
Esse silêncio todo me atordoa
Atordoado eu permaneço atento
Na arquibancada pra qualquer momento
Ver emergir o monstro da lagoa

De muito gorda a porca já não anda
De muito usada a faca já não corta
Como é difícil, pai, abrir a porta
Essa palavra presa na garganta
Esse pileque homérico no mundo
De que adianta ter boa vontade
Mesmo calado o peito, resta a cuca
Dos bêbados do centro da cidade

Talvez o mundo não seja pequeno
Nem seja a vida um fato consumado
Quero inventar o meu próprio pecado
Quero morrer do meu próprio veneno
Quero perder de vez tua cabeça
Minha cabeça perder teu juízo
Quero cheirar fumaça de óleo diesel
Me embriagar até que alguém me esqueça


Father, take away from me this chalice
of wine tinted with blood!
How to drink this bitter drink
Inhale the pain, swallow the drudgery.
Even if the mouth is shut, the heart still remains
Silence in the city is not heard.
For what is it worth for me to be the son of the holy mother
It would be better that I were born to another
Another less dull reality
So many lies such brute force.

How hard it is to wake up silenced
If I hurt myself in the quiet of night
I desire to release an inhuman scream
Which would be a way to be heard
All of this silence makes me dizzy
Dazed, I remain attentive
In the expectation of, at any moment,
To see the monster of the lake emerge

From so much fat, the hog no longer walks
From so much use, the knife has gone dull
How hard it is, father, to open the door
With this word stuck in my throat
This Homeric drunkenness in the world
What's the advantage of having good will?
Even if the heart is silenced, consciousness remains
Of all the drunkards downtown

Perhaps the world isn't that small
Nor is life a consummated fact
I desire to invent my own sin
I want to die from my own poison!
And disconnect my mind from yours
May my head lose your way of thinking
I want to sniff diesel fumes
And get intoxicated until I'm forgotten!


  • 1966: Chico Buarque de Hollanda (Vol. 1)
  • 1966: Morte e Vida Severina
  • 1967: Chico Buarque de Hollanda (Vol. 2)
  • 1968: Chico Buarque de Hollanda (Vol. 3)
  • 1969: Umas e outras - compacto
  • 1969: Chico Buarque na Itália
  • 1970: Apesar de você
  • 1970: Per un pugno di samba
  • 1970: Chico Buarque de Hollanda (Vol. 4)
  • 1971: Construção
  • 1972: Quando o carnaval chegar
  • 1972: Caetano e Chico juntos e ao vivo
  • 1973: Chico canta
  • 1974: Sinal fechado
  • 1975: Chico Buarque & Maria Bethânia ao vivo
  • 1976: Meus caros amigos
  • 1977: Cio da Terra compacto
  • 1977: Os saltimbancos
  • 1977: Gota d'água
  • 1978: Chico Buarque
  • 1979: Ópera do Malandro
  • 1980: Vida
  • 1980: Show 1º de Maio compacto
  • 1981: Almanaque
  • 1981: Saltimbancos trapalhões
  • 1982: Chico Buarque en espanhol
  • 1983: Para viver um grande amor
  • 1983: O grande circo místico
  • 1984: Chico Buarque (Vermelho)
  • 1985: O Corsário do rei
  • 1985: Ópera do malandro
  • 1985: Malandro
  • 1986: Melhores momentos de Chico & Caetano
  • 1987: Francisco
  • 1988: Dança da meia-lua
  • 1989: Chico Buarque
  • 1990: Chico Buarque ao vivo Paris le Zenith
  • 1993: Para Todos
  • 1995: Uma palavra
  • 1997: Terra
  • 1998: As cidades
  • 1998: Chico Buarque da Mangueira
  • 1999: Chico ao vivo
  • 2001: Chico e as cidades (DVD)
  • 2001: Cambaio
  • 2002: Chico Buarque – Duetos
  • 2003: Chico ou o país da delicadeza perdida (DVD)
  • 2005: Meu Caro Amigo (DVD)
  • 2005: A Flor da Pele (DVD)
  • 2005: Vai passar (DVD)
  • 2005: Anos Dourados (DVD)
  • 2005: Estação Derradeira (DVD)
  • 2005: Bastidores (DVD)
  • 2006: O Futebol (DVD)
  • 2006: Romance (DVD)
  • 2006: Uma Palavra (DVD)
  • 2006: Carioca (CD + DVD with the documentary Desconstrução)
  • 2007: Carioca Ao Vivo

Other works

  • 1966: A Banda (Songbook)
  • 1974: Fazenda Modelo
  • 1979: Chapeuzinho Amarelo
  • 1981: A Bordo do Rui Barbosa
  • 1991: Estorvo
  • 1995: Benjamin
  • 2003: Budapeste
  • 2009: Leite Derramado
  • 1967/8: Roda Viva
  • 1973: Calabar (coauthored with Ruy Guerra)
  • 1975: Gota d'água
  • 1978: Ópera do Malandro (based on John Gay's Beggar's Opera and Bertolt Brecht's Threepenny Opera)
  • 1983: O Grande Circo Místico
  • 1972: Quando o carnaval chegar (coauthor)
  • 1983: Para viver um grande amor (coauthor)
  • 1985: Ópera do Malandro
  • 2009: Budapeste (based on his book)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Chico Buarque" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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