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Capiba (Lourenço da Fonseca Barbosa)

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Composer, musician, pianist 



Capiba (Lourenço da Fonseca Barbosa)

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Last update: 27/02/2023

By: Biblioteca Blanche Knopf - Joaquim Nabuco Foundation

I have always composed all kinds of music. I also like frevo very much since it gives me a constant artistic survival as a composer.

I have performed in Pernambuco carnivals since 1934 to keep a fire that has been burning since the 1920s, or put better, to not let it die. But my real weak spots are songs, waltzes, and serenades. When I arrived in Recife, in September 1930, to work for Banco do Brasil S/A, I immediately tried to organize with other fellow students the Jazz Band Acadêmica, an orchestra that dominated the Recife halls at the time.

As the director of the orchestra I had founded, I had to be an academic. To do so, I took the entrance examination for law school, in 1931, to be able to bear the honorable title of academician since the other orchestra members were all undergraduates. Where I lived, even though I slept in the room where the great abolitionist Joaquim Nabuco was born, I didn’t assimilate his knowledge and teachings and, for this reason, I reproved on the entrance exam that year. The following year I passed the entrance exam. I was not, therefore, fooling anyone else. I was, in fact, and in law, an academic for all intents and purposes (nowadays we no longer say academic, but university student). The honor of the patron of Fundação Joaquim Nabuco was saved.

Because of my stubbornness to be a law student, I finished 1938 as a bachelor. There you have it, one more thing that music gave me––I do not know if it was good or bad. I only know one thing: I never went to get my diploma, which, of course, is stored in the secretariat of the famous first law school in the country.

I said above that my weak spots are songs, waltzes, and serenades, and they really are. From that, in 1931, I launched my calling card as the composer of the Valsa Verde, with beautiful verses by Ferreyra dos Santos. With this waltz, the way was opened for the shy country boy from Surubim that I was. Other successes followed.

In 1932, É de Tororó, written by Ascenço Ferreira, a genre of music launched by me, in the ballrooms of Recife, at the head of the Jazz Band Acadêmica.
In 1933, Coração, Que Mais Queres? with verses by the poet Leovigíldo Júnior.
Another success in 1934: É de Amargar – frevo that all Recife sang in unison in the carnival of that year. This frevo is, until today, remembered in the halls of the big and small clubs of the Frevo Capital – Recife. From then on, I have nothing more to say about carnival songs.

All Recife knows my trajectory. I have done, during all these years, an endless series of songs with the greatest Brazilian and even foreign poets. Among them, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Manuel Bandeira, Vinícius de Moraes, Ariano SuassunaCarlos Penna FilhoJoão Cabral de Mello Neto, Alfonsus Guimarães, Ascenso Ferreira, Jorge de Lima, Geraldo Brasil, Jayme Griz, Langston Hughes, and many others. For the Teatro do Estudante (Student’s Theater) and for the Teatro Popular do Nordeste (Northeast Popular Theater – TPN), of which I was the president and official composer, I was set to music several plays, such as: “A Pena e a Lei,” by Ariano Suassuna, “The Mandrake,” by Machiavelli, “The Love of Don Perlimplín and Belisa in the garden,” by Garcia Lorca, “Cabra Cabriola,” by Hermilo Borba Filho and, more recently, “O Coronel de Macambira,” by the poet Joaquim Cardozo, among others.

Before that, I was set to music a chronicle by the journalist Guerra de Holanda, published in his section “Bacia de Pilatos” (Pilates’ Basin), in the Diário da Noite, entitled: Haja Pau, later transformed into a play for the theater of puppets, by José de Moraes Pinho.

I took part in the Armorial Movement launched by Ariano Suassuna at the beginning of the seventies, composing a play in 3 movements, called “Sem Lei Nem Rei,” the title of the novel by Maximiano Campos, published by “O Cruzeiro”, in 1968. This piece was the first thing that was done, in this genre, at the request of the creator of the movement himself. I could not help but pay homage here to my master and friend Maestro Guerra Peixe, who allowed me to follow a path in music, not erudite music, but of a more elevated nature.

My friendship with Guerra Peixe began when Teófilo de Barros Filho, still in São Paulo, asked him to orchestrate my Suite Nordestina, originally composed for piano. This five-movement piece, which was performed by the Orquestra Sinfônica do Recife under conductor Vicente Fittipaldi, was composed using the idea, or rather the suggestion, of five paintings from an exhibition by the great painter and friend Lula Cardoso Ayres.

Taking advantage of Maestro Guerra Peixe’s coming to Recife on behalf of Rádio Jornal do Commercio, in the late 1950s, I received composition and harmony lessons from him, which gave me a greater awareness of what I was composing. During the classes, I composed some pieces for piano (Instantâneos No. I e No. II), a piece for solo flute, in two movements, which I dedicated to the Argentinian flutist Esteban Eitler, who performed it not only in Brazil but also worldwide. It was, for me, an experience of immense value. I did not cultivate this kind of music, because it was very difficult to hear it performed. After all, I was already very used to the easy success of my popular productions.

August 1982.


Recife, July 21, 2003.

 *Capiba’s own text

how to quote this text

Biblioteca Blanche Knopf. Capiba (Lourenço da Fonseca Barbosa). In: Pesquisa Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2003. Available at:https: Access on: day month year. (Ex.: Aug. 6, 2020.)