Interview with Eudóxia de Barros - April 2007
The Choro Music team had the privilege to interview Eudóxia de Barros, one of the greatest pianist and interpreters of Nazareth of all times, responsible for his revival in the 60s through the recording of memorable LPs and acclaimed concert performances throughout her life.
Would you please make a few comments on how music got into your life, on your musical interests and on whoever may have influenced you?
I was not born in a family of musicians, but rather in one of extremely musical people. My grandmother played the piano regularly, as an amateur; she played popular songs, some of Ernesto Nazareth’s and some of the classics too. There was a strong influence from her and from my father, who played the guitar. We had a piano at home, and we all liked it. At that time people used to listen to the radio for hours; they enjoyed listening to classical music. We had several radio stations back then - Excelsior, Difusora, Gazeta. We also used to listen to a lot of popular music. My sister and I would try to reproduce, on the piano, what we had heard on the radio. My father then thought we should have piano lessons.
We started having piano lessons with a teacher of the neighborhood. She taught us for a while, and then one day she told my father that everything she knew she had already showed us, and that it was about time to try and find another teacher. Through a friend, then, my sister and I were introduced to an important German teacher, Prof. Karl Heim. He came over to listen to us, gave us several tests, and checked our general knowledge. We started our lessons with him and after some time I was also interested in having lessons with Madalena Tagliaferro.
I kept having theory lessons with Prof. Heim and piano practice lessons with Ms. Tagliaferro's assistant, Nellie Braga and some interpretation classes with Ms. Tagliaferro, when she was in Brazil. After two years, she thought I should go to France to continue my studies. She got me a scholarship from the Ministry of Education and I spent two years in Europe, living in Paris.
What did you enjoy playing, then? Was there any favorite composer or style?
I soon realized I had a natural ability to play Brazilian classical music, which I liked very much, since I was forbidden to play popular music at that time.
I came back in 1959, after this experience in Europe, and started playing intensely in Brazil.
In 1963 I was informed by musicologist Mozart de Araújo that a record contest would be held in honor of the 100th anniversary of Ernesto Nazareth. Up to then, nobody had recorded Nazareth strictly according to his scores - there were only arrangements, which by the way were very well made. I contacted Chantecler Record Company - back then a major record label - signed a contract and released an LP with songs composed by Nazareth. At the time there was a significant discrimination against recording Nazareth’s music. I never bothered about that, because his music was so beautifully written!
Nazareth’s music is excellent; from a certain point of view, based on the richness of his melodies, his harmonic findings, and the perfect form of his compositions, we may say that he is much more a classical than a popular composer.
My record was released in 1963, and it was called "Ouro sobre Azul" (On Cloud Nine, cover, back-cover). This work was a sales success - I even got a gold record!
Who first got the idea of recording Nazareth?
The idea came up with the celebration of his 100th anniversary. In the end, the contest wasn’t held, but the record was released.
Afterwards I was on that TV program called "8 or 800" in 1976, hosted by TV Globo’s Paulo Gracindo. I didn’t win, but it was worth it! I owe Nazareth a great deal, for he only brought me luck. Many people started recording his works after that year.
The revival of Nazareth’s works in the Choro world is credited to Jacob do Bandolim and his 1950's recordings. The same can be said about your recording in 1963: the revival of Nazareth's work in the Classical world should be attributed to you. After that, many other pianists started playing and recording him ...
Exactly. In that same year I received an award for that record, and played several concerts.
The album "Ouro sobre Azul" marked this event. I also recorded "Gotas de Ouro" (Gold Drops, cover) in 1965 due to the huge success achieved by the first album, only this time including some of Nazareth’s less popular songs.
Afterwards other pianists started recording Nazareth, such as Roberto Szidon and Arthur Moreira Lima, among others.
Since then I’ve been playing Nazareth’s compositions, and I don’t intend to stop.