Meaning behind the song titles

You are here: Home page » Catalog » Composers » Ernesto Nazareth » Meaning behind the song titles

AMENO RESEDÁ - Polka, 1st Ed. 1913

The composer’s twenty-sixth polka to be printed was first published by Casa Arthur Napoleão with the title Ameno Resedá, dedicated to a carnival parade group of the same name, as requested by one of its directors, the postman Napoleão de Oliveira.

APANHEI-TE, CAVAQUINHO! (I’ve got you, Cavaquinho!) - Polka, 1st Ed. 1914

Dedicated to the eminent Juracy Nazareth de Araújo, one of Nazareth’s close friends. The first print of Apanhei-te, cavaquinho! - the composer’s twenty-seventh polka – was released by Casa Mozart with the indication “very proper for serenades."

One of Nazareth’s major successes. Since then, three versions have been trying to explain the meaning of its title: (1) an expression of the time (“Apanhei-te” or I’ve got you), which used to be applied to someone caught in an embarrassing situation; (2) how the composer would have tried to “represent” on the piano two significant instruments of the Choro ensemble: the flute (in the right hand) and the cavaquinho (in the left); and finally (3) the false explanation (already repeated in other publications) that the musician would have dedicated this polka to a certain “Mario Cavaquinho … the greatest cavaquinho player in Brazil…"

However, as confirmed by the original score, the name printed in the dedication is Juracy Nazareth, which in spite of the last name was not related to the author, at least not closely.

BAMBINO (Little Boy) - Tango, 1st Ed. 1912

The dedication in the manuscript reads “Dedicated to my good friend Cezar d’Araújo.” After over a decade of not having works published by Casa Arthur Napoleão (the last had been the waltz Genial (Brilliant), in 1900), Nazareth has his twenty-sixth tango printed – Bambino - dedicated to one of the then owners of that traditional establishment. As to the title, it was taken from the artistic name of the then famous caricaturist Arthur Lucas, responsible, by the way, for some of the composer’s album covers. Enthusiastic about the success of Bambino, the writer and poet Catullo, as he had previously done with Nenê, Bicyclette-club and Brejeiro, also decides to write lyrics for this composition and comes up with another title for it: “Você não me dá!” (“You won’t give it to me!).

BATUQUE (Generic designation of Afro-Brazilian Negro dances) - Characteristic Tango, Composed in 1901. 1st Ed. 1913

Dedicated to the eminent pianist and composer Henrique Oswald. According to Professor Eulina de Nazareth (the composer’s daughter), and to pianist Maria Alice Saraiva (one of his most accurate interpreters), this composition would have been released around 1901. But until its publication, in 1913, by Casa Arthur Napoleão (Sampaio, Araújo & Cia.), it still underwent some modifications, like for example the addition of the cadence forming the introduction. Thirty-fifth tango composed by Ernesto Nazareth to be printed, Batuque can be ranked as one of his finest works. And one of the most recorded compositions among all Brazilian works exclusively written for the piano with a particularly classical style, since it has already been included in more than 30 LPs and CDs.

BREJEIRO (Coquettish) - Tango, 1st Ed. 1893

The manuscript reads: “To his nephew Gilberto Nazareth.” Nazareth’s first tango to be published, Brejeiro was dedicated to his nephew “Gigi." However, the exact year when this score was composed has not been identified - only that of its first publication by Fontes & Cia., an establishment located at Rua dos Ourives (currently Rua Miguel Couto), 51. In 1894, or sometime during the previous year (according to some publications), Fontes & Cia. closed down and Casa Vieira Machado & Cia. was established at the same address; after taking over the extinct business it continued publishing Brejeiro.

In 1903 or a little before, with the roaring success of this work, the poet Catullo da Paixão Cearense eventually wrote lyrics for the song, which helped to increase its popularity. Along with the lyrics the notorious writer from the State of Maranhão also created a second title, i.e. “Sertanejo enamorado” (Countryside Guy in love), which was first recorded by Mário Pinheiro in 1904.

CARIOCA (Native or Inhabitant of the City of Rio de Janeiro) - Tango, 1st Ed. 1913

The manuscript reads “To the talented and inspired artist Olympio Nogueira.” Casa Arthur Napoleão (Sampaio, Araújo & Cia.) published Ernesto Nazareth’s thirty-seventh tango to be printed, one of his major successes (Carioca), dedicated to the popular actor Olympio Nogueira.

Born in the City of Campos dos Goytacazes, State of Rio de Janeiro on June 22, 1878, by 1908 Olympio was already in Rio de Janeiro, the Federal Capital of the time, when he decided to improve his violin skills with the same teacher that had been giving lessons to one of Nazareth’s sons, Diniz Nazareth. The two became friends and the friendship was then extended to Ernesto Nazareth. In 1909, already admired by the Rio de Janeiro public, mainly for having often played the role of Jesus Christ in the play “Martyr of the Calvary,” he started dividing his performances between the theaters in Rio and Portugal. Olympio Nogueira died in 1918, as a consequence of the Spanish Influenza he came down with while in Spain, and was survived by his wife and daughter.

CONFIDÊNCIAS (Secrets) - Waltz for the piano, 1st Ed. 1913

Dedicated to the inspired poet Catullo da Paixão Cearense. Confidências, seventeenth waltz composed by Nazareth to be printed, was released by Casa Arthur Napoleão (Sampaio, Araújo & Cia.) in the collection called “Soirées Brazileiras.”

Much admired by Ruy Barbosa, rumor has it that when the jurist would enter the waiting area of the Odeon Cinema – often just to listen to the composer on the piano - Nazareth would immediately stop playing whatever piece he was performing and immediately start this highly successful waltz.

Born in São Luís do Maranhão on January 31, 1866, and deceased on May 10, 1946 in Rio de Janeiro at the age of 80, Catulo da Paixão Cearense resided with his family in the Capital of the then Brazilian Empire as of 1880. Guitar player and poet, he enjoyed writing lyrics for songs composed by much acclaimed authors, namely: Ernesto Nazareth, Anacleto de Medeiros, Joaquim Callado and Chiquinha Gonzaga. His poems were published in approximately thirty books, and he was greatly responsible for having the guitar thereafter regarded under a more favorable light, bringing it closer to the most influential social classes.

EPONINA (A girl’s given name) - Waltz, 1st Ed. 1913

Dedicated to my illustrious friend Virgílio Werneck Corrêa e Castro. The eighteenth waltz composed by Nazareth to be printed was first published by Casa Vieira Machado. A lovely young lady, daughter of Francisco Xavier da Silva Guimarães and Laurecênia Ribeiro Guimarães, Eponina (and not Epônina) was born in Niterói (State of Rio de Janeiro) around 1885. In 1911, at 26, she married a highly respected doctor from the same city, Dr. Justino de Menezes. In 1912 her only daughter was born and named Maria da Conceição Guimarães de Menezes. Eponina, who met Ernesto Nazareth circa 1905, died in December 1960, at 75.

ESCORREGANDO (Sliding Away) - Brazilian Tango, 1st Ed. 1924

Dedicated to the lovely Brahma Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Russo in the popular Brahma Bar. The Brazilian tango Escorregando is said to have been first printed around 1924, even though only the publication made by Irmãos Vitale in 1939 was made public. In 1925 Romeu Silva’s South American Jazz Band recorded this song, mistakably presenting it as a “maxixe.” One of Nazareth’s most popular works, Escorregando certainly had its title inspired in a particularity found in the second of its three parts, when three fingers from the right hand play a sequence of five notes eight consecutive times, giving the impression that they are slipping or sliding across the keyboard.

ESCOVADO (Brazilian slang used for the word Shrewd) - Tango, 1st Ed. 1905

To my little brother Fernando Nazareth. In 1905, Casa Vieira Machado & Cia. first published three of the composers works: the waltz Coração que sente (A Heart that feels), his sixteenth tango, Escovado, dedicated to his youngest brother, and the fado (Portuguese folk song) Ferramenta (Tool). The word Escovado, in the slang of the time, meant an individual that was “well groomed, tidy, clean” or “smart, canny, shrewd,” an expression that could very well be applied to a seven-year-old boy that used to receive undivided attention and dedication, mainly from his old parents.

In 1919, the French composer Darius Milhaud used the main theme from Escovado in his ballet Le boeuf sur le toit (The Bull on the Roof), which turned out to be a worldwide success.

ESTÁ CHUMBADO (He’s Plastered) - Tango for the piano, 1st Ed. 1898

Released by Napoleão & Cia. in the collection called “Soirées Brazileiras”, Está Chumbado does not have a dedication in its manuscript or earlier editions. It is certain, however, that it was inspired by a close friend who was particularly fond of drinking! This was the tenth tango composed by Nazareth to be published, and according to the words of the poet Mário de Andrade, it is a “masterpiece whose rhythmics sounds like a drinking spree of priceless expressiveness…”

From the 88 tangos composed by Nazareth it seems that only 10 others - besides Está Chumbado - have an introduction: Arreliado (Upset) (unpublished), Beija-Flor (Humming-Bird), Brejeiro (Coquettish), Desengonçado (Clumsy), Está Chumbado (He’s Plastered), O alvorecer (Daybreak), O futurista (The Futurist), 1922, Pairando (Hovering) and Proeminente (Eminent).

EXPANSIVA (Extrovert) - Waltz, Composition and 1st Ed. 1912

To my friend Edgard Xavier de Mattos. During the composer’s life this was his most successful waltz (his seventeenth). At the time it was published, Nazareth also used to perform as a piano player at Casa Manoel Antônio Gomes Guimarães, an establishment where he finished writing the waltz on the top part of one of its pianos.

FACEIRA (Graceful) - Waltz for the piano, 1st Ed. 1940 (posthumous)

To my dear friend Jacintho Silva. In Ernesto Nazareth’s archives we can find two pieces dedicated “to my dear friend” Jacintho Silva: Paraíso (Paradise), a “milonga-style tango” and Faceira, a waltz that was only printed in 1940. Proprietor of the renowned bookstore called O Livro, it was in Jacintho Silva’s house, at Rua Cubatão, that Ernesto would stay during a good part of his tour in São Paulo.

FAVORITO (Favorite) - Tango, 1st Ed. 1895

To Marietta Nazareth.

The twenty-first composition by Nazareth and his third tango to be published - Favorito - was released by the then recently opened Casa Vieira Machado & Cia., dedicated to “Marietta,” the author’s daughter. Rumor has it that a few years later this tango received lyrics from the poet Catullo da Paixão Cearense.

Maria de Lourdes Nazareth, perhaps the most brilliant disciple of her father, died in 1917, at twenty-five, of ganglionar tuberculosis.

MATUTO (Backwoodsman) - Tango, 1st Ed. 1917

To my sincere friend Arnaldo Costa. Published by Napoleão & Cia., this tango sought to indirectly pay a tribute to the then major representative of the Brazilian country music, the composer and pianist Marcello Tupynambá, born in the City of Tietê, State of São Paulo, and author of a homonym work that became a nationwide hit.

NENÊ (Baby) - Tango, 1st Ed. 1895

To my friend Dr. Jovino Barral da Fonseca. At the end of 1895, Casa Arthur Napoleão & Cia. published his thirty-third work and third tango – Nenê - dedicated to his friend Jovino, who was married to Maria Amado da Fonseca, sister of Maria José, wife of his brother-in-law, Dr Meirelles Filho. As to the title, it is not known whether this was Jovino’s nickname, or that of the composer’s dead sister, Maria Carolina - who passed away when she was a young girl - or even that of a beautiful widow, one of his former students.

In later years, Nenê also received lyrics from the poet Catullo and, consequently, a second title: Sertaneja (Countryside Girl).

ODEON - Tango for the piano, Composition and 1st Ed. 1910

Dedicated to the eminent firm Zambelli & Cia.

On August 16, 1909, the most luxurious cinema of the city was opened: the Odeon, on the corner of Avenida Rio Branco and Rua Sete de Setembro. A splendid establishment with two screens and an upright piano at the lobby next to the entrance, where a pianist entertained the guests while they waited for the show to begin.

In 1910, Nazareth was commissioned to play at the Odeon waiting area. At that time, people used to arrive an hour before the film to enjoy the activities of the waiting area: small orchestras, musicians, or just a chat. Nazareth became the craze of the moment, and in fact many people would go to the movie theatre exclusively to listen to his performances, sometimes even missing the films.

OURO SOBRE AZUL (On Cloud Nine) - Tango, 1st Ed. 1916

Dedicated to Carlos Bittencourt

The musical comedy “Ouro Sobre Azul”, authored by the popular actress Maria Lira, had its opening night on October 12, at the Recreio Theater, at Praça Tiradentes. A folkloric play, which was a genre much admired at the time, her musical reached great success, and Nazareth, in turn, used the same title to name one of his most famous tangos. It was dedicated to Carlos Bittencourt, a young man born in Rio de Janeiro on December 12, 1888 and deceased in the same city on August 31, 1941. His nickname was “Assombro” (Astonishment), and Bittencourt (or Bettencourt) had been closely connected to the history of the vaudeville theater in Rio since the beginning of the 20th century. In a partnership with Luiz Peixoto, with music by Francisca Gonzaga, he wrote his most famous musical comedy: Forrobodó (Brazilian slang for “popular ball” or “confusion”) in 1911.

“Ouro Sobre Azul," in turn, is a very old Portuguese expression used to answer to the question “how are you?” If things were going nicely then the person would reply: - “Comigo está tudo ouro sobre azul” which can be translated as “I’m on cloud nine”.

PERIGOSO (Dangerous) - Brazilian Tango, 1st Ed. 1911

To my friend Lino José Barbosa, proprietor of Casa Mozart. Published by Casa Mozart together with the waltz Turbilhão de beijos (A Whirlwind of Kisses), this thirty-seventh tango printed by Nazareth was dedicated to the illustrious Lino José Barbosa, owner of this important establishment located on the former Avenida Central (later on Avenida Rio Branco) 127. This piece was written in a minor key, which is unusual in Nazareth’s tangos, and its entire third part - which is to be played only once - was originally written in octaves and for the piano, which makes it even more interesting. The title, in turn, would be the nickname of a soccer player that biographers have not managed to identify as yet.

RANZINZA (Grouchy) - Tango, 1st Ed. 1917

No dedication. Fifth and last tango printed by Napoleão and Cia. (Sampaio, Araújo & Cia.), Ranzinza (Ch. No. 7848) does not present a dedication on the score or manuscript, even though its title makes an indirect reference to a friend’s nickname.

TENEBROSO (Gloomy) - Tango, 1st Ed. 1913

To my good and long-time friend Sátyro Bilhar. The first printing of Tenebroso, the thirty-sixth tango composed by Nazareth to be published, was released by Casa Arthur Napoleão (Sampaio, Araújo & Cia.).

Sátyro Lopes de Alcântara Bilhar, a guitar player, popular composer and eminent Choro player, was possibly born in Rio de Janeiro around 1860, and deceased in the same city on October 23, 1926. Curiously, during the first of the three parts that compose Tenebroso, we can see that the music is all produced by the left hand, within the lowest pitches, which lead us to think about his friend’s guitar chords or, according to others, about Bilhar’s own hoarse voice.

TOPÁZIO LÍQUIDO (Liquid Topaz) - Tango, 1st Ed. 1914

A gift from the Amazonense brewery to its admirers - Miranda Corrêa & Cia. Manaus. This tango was ordered to Casa Vieira Machado & Cia., in Rio de Janeiro, by the entrepreneur Maximino Miranda Corrêa, a civil engineer and manufacturer of “XPTO”(or “Topázio Líquido” – Liquid Topaz), a beer manufactured in the City of Manaus, State of Amazonas. An amateur pianist, Miranda made a point of associating Ernesto Nazareth’s name to his product.