Aloysio de Alencar Pinto

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Interview with Aloysio de Alencar Pinto - October 2006

Choro Music interviewed the great pianist and musicologist Aloysio de Alencar Pinto in October 2006, when he was 95 years old.

How old were you when you met Ernesto Nazareth?

I met him in the twenties, when I was still a 12-year-old boy.  And then I saw him again in 1933, and in 1934 he died. By then I had already graduated in law school. I always studied piano, I was a student of great French professors. I also met Chiquinha Gonzaga, who passed away in 1935, when she was already in her old age.

How long were you close to Nazareth and how was your contact with him?

I never was very close to him. I had more contact with his daughter, Eulina, who was a public school teacher.  I met Ernesto when he was playing in music stores.  He would make a tour around music stores in Rio de Janeiro. He had a very hectic life. At that time we didn’t have the communication means we have today, but he was very well-known. Those who played the piano would buy his music, and all the students throughout the country would play it.

How would you portray Ernesto?

Nazareth was the greatest Brazilian composer of popular music of the time to meet all standards of classical music. His music is one of the most played by Choro ensembles. The Brazilian Tango was Nazareth’s creation, and above all things he was a Brazilian composer. What he played and created does not exist any longer. He wrote polkas, xotes (schottisches), tangos and much more. 

The music he created has endured throughout time.  Brazilians are the most musical people in the world. Any Brazilian pianist who wishes to go to Germany to play Beethoven is predestined to die. The Germans will never provide space for a non-German-born musician to play their music.

What else touched you in relation to Ernesto Nazareth?

He was a creator comparable to the greatest musicians of the world.  He was a well-educated man, refined, and humble. He was a self-taught man.

Did Ernesto ever comment on wishing to follow a purely classical career, or on wishing to study in Europe?

Nazareth did not dream of going to Europe. His dream was to play Chopin finely.  He played it regularly, had his personal technique, studied it a lot and had good fingering. He had a fondness for the romantics.

What did Ernesto Nazareth think about the Chorões playing his music?

People who played Choro had a lower status than Nazareth’s. The choro was connected to the masses, to the slaves, and Nazareth liked the people, who held him in high regard. 

Nazareth was a standard to be met, and he was regarded by musicians as a man of high repute. His music was well-written.  All those who played the cavaquinho, the guitar, etc. would play by ear, since they didn’t know how to read music.  Ernesto Nazareth wrote elaborate, sophisticated music, many times using keys with 4, 5, or 6 flats.

Did Ernesto Nazareth wish his music to be appreciated by all social classes?  

The social classes that wanted to learn about and play his music could be described as part of a backward movement, that is to say, as a movement that came from below to the top.  Ernesto Nazareth was highly valued in his time. He liked to have the Choro players playing his music. His music crosses time because it is the best in the world. Brazilians like to score goals abroad.