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The second son to Aluísio Holanda Cavalcanti and Marina Matias de Souza, Getúlio de Souza Cavalcanti was born in the city of Camutanga, in the northern Forest Zone of Pernambuco on 10 February 1942. Before him, Darcy (the firstborn) and Aluísio Júnior were born. In his hometown, he attended the first four years of primary school at Típica Rural and Manoel Guedes, and then transferred to Ginásio Timbaubense, where he boarded in order to complete intermediate school. In 1957, he came to live in Recife, where he attended secondary school at Colégio Padre Félix in the Boa Vista neighbourhood.
As a teenager, Getúlio would participate in many serenades under the moonlight of Camutanga, which substantially influenced all his poetry and music. When he began working in Recife, the composer would help his father in his business, and would later be a foreman in the warehouse of the newspaper Diario de Pernambuco.
In 1966, Getúlio married Rosileide Loyo (affectionately named Rose), and from this union were born Hélio (in 1967), Ângelo (in 1969), Alessandra (in 1971) and Cassius (in 1974). In 1970, the composer completed the Business Administration course at the Federal University of Pernambuco, but never bothered to receive his diploma.
Composing, singing and performing music is a hobby that Getúlio has had since his teens. However, he began his career as an artist in 1962, singing at the old Radio Clube de Pernambuco. In the same year, he would write the frevo song Você gostou de mim [You Liked Me], which the Rozenblit factory recorded in LP form that year. It is also worth noting that the talented composer spent 18 years working for International Business Machine (IBM), the company from which he retired; and that 11 years ago, he opened a business in the field of information technology.
From 1962 onwards, Getúlio composed and recorded many very successful songs, such as: O bom Sebastião [Good Sebastião] (Carnival frevo, 1975); Antônio Maria (Carnival frevo, 1976); Clube do limão [Lemon Club] (frevo song, 1977); Boi castanho [Brown Ox] (Carnival frevo, 1978); Sete anos de saudade [Seven Years of Nostalgia] (Carnival frevo, 1979); Recado a Capiba [Message to Capiba] (frevo song, 1980); Último regresso [Last Return] (Carnival frevo, 1981); Cantigas de roda [Circle Songs] (Carnival frevo, 1982); Freviocando [‘Frevoing’] (frevo song, 1983); O frevo tá na praça [The Frevo Is in the Square] (frevo song, 1984); Tributo a Faustino [Tribute to Faustino] (Carnival frevo, 1985); Chora batutas (Carnival frevo, 1986); Um amor a mais [One More Love] (Carnival frevo, 1987); Agonia de um bloco [Agony of a Carnival Block] (Carnival frevo, 1988); No pequeno olhar [In the Small Look] and Tributo a Bajado [Tribute to Bajado] (Carnival frevo, 1990); Escuta boêmio [Listen Bohemian] and Cadê o apito [Where’s the Whistle] (Carnival frevo, 1991); Sai pra lá baiano [Get Out, Bahian] (frevo song, 1992); Relembrando Moysés [Remembering Moses] (Carnival frevo, 1993); Cheirando a motel [Smelling the Motel] (frevo song, 1994); Revendo Olinda [Seeing Olinda Again] (Carnival frevo, 1995); Maré me leva [Tide Takes Me] (frevo song, 1995); Depois de banhistas [After the Bathers] (Carnival frevo, 1996); Bloco das Flores [Carnival Block of Flowers] (Carnival frevo), Madrigal (Carnival frevo); Ilusão fatal [Fatal Illusion] (Carnival frevo); Urso safado [Dirty Bear] (frevo song); Segurando o talo [Holding the Stem] (samba song); Cinco anos de ilusões [Five Years of Illusions] (Carnival frevo); Blocos da minha vida [Carnival Blocks of My Life] (Carnival frevo); Aurora dos carnavais [Aurora of the Carnivals] (Carnival frevo); Estrela guia [Star Guide] (Carnival frevo); Perseguidor [Stalker] (Carnival frevo); De volta ao Chantecler [Back to the Chantecler] (frevo song); Velho coração [Old Heart] (Carnival frevo) and others.
He also composed other musical genres, such as baião, ballad, marchas-rancho, samba, maracatu, samba songs, toada, rock and bolero. His compositions are as follows: Estranho amor [Strange Love], Meu pé de macarrão [My Pasta Tree], Violação [‘Guitaration’], Badia, Ave Maria nordestina [Northeastern Ave Maria], O mensageiro [The Messenger], É tarde [It’s late], Estrada de verdade [Road of Truth], Cantiga de quem vive só [Song of the Lonely One], Por amor ao Recife [For the Love of Recife], Hoje tem galo [Today is Galo Block], O frevo tá na praça [Frevo in the Square], Vovó Severina [Grandma Severina], Eu acho é pouco [I Think It’s a Bit], Doce com queijo [Sweet with Cheese], Por paixão [For Passion], Teorias [Theories], A dona daquele sorriso [The Owner of that Smile], Perdão [Forgiveness], Ao mestre, com saudade [To the Master, with Longing], Quero ser o seu amor [I Want to Be Your Love], Pelo de cana, Estrela-guia [Star Guide], Pelas ruas de Olinda [Through the Streets of Olinda], Foi o galo que passou em minha rua [It was the Galo Block That Passed in My Street], Braços abertos [Open Arms], Paixão medrosa [Fearful Passion], Dá licença Recife [Excuse Me Recife], A mais de mil [Fast], Lá vem meu bloco azul [Here Comes My Blue Carnival Block], Casa de camelo [Camel House], Solteirão [Bachelor], Um amor a mais [One More Love], Nelson Ferreira, Meu pastoril, Um ano depois [A Year Later], Bloco para um poeta [Carnival Block for a Poet], Velho bandolim [Old Mandolin], Quando as ilusões regressam [When Illusions Return] and Salve, salve Emiliano [Hail, Hhail Emiliano].
Winner of several Carnival song contests, compositions by Getúlio have been recorded by several renowned Brazilian singers and ensembles, such as Coral Banhistas do Pina, Coral Mocambo, Maestro Zezinho and Banda Capibaribe, the José Menezes Orchestra and Coral de Joab, Conjunto Romançal, Pastoras do Boi Castanho, Coral Bloco da Saudade, Coral Bloco das Ilusões, Banda de Pau and Corda, Turma do Pingüim, Coral Frevança, Coral Vitória Régia, the Guedes Peixoto orchestra and choir, Claudionor Germano, Noite Ilustrada, André Rio, Nando Cordel, Leonardo, Altemar Dutra, Antônio Nóbrega, Têca Calazans, Alessandra (his daughter) and others. In 1987, he recorded some songs for the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation on an LP of the series “Compositores Pernambucanos” [Pernambuco Composers].
Upon being interviewed by this author, the composer said that one of his biggest dreams was to be able to experience the valorisation of composers from Pernambuco by the authorities and the entities that work in favour of cultural dissemination. In this regard, he recalled an incident that occurred during the Baile Municipal de Recife [Recife Carnival Ball] in the 2005 carnival, when the mayor of the city hired Elza Soares to sing instead of valuing and bringing Pernambuco and/or Northeast composers and performers, and as a form of protest, the public booed the famous singer, who had no connection to Carnival music.
Getúlio wrote the nine songs that today make up the repertoire of Bloco da Saudade: Último regresso [Last Return], O bom Sebastião [Good Sebastião], Cantigas de roda [Circle Songs], Chora Batutas, Relembrando Moysés [Remembering Moses], Os blocos estão voltando [Carnival Blocks are Coming Back], Tributo a Bajado [Tribute to Bajado], Adeus saudade [Farewell Saudade] and Salve, salve Emiliano [Hail, Hail Emiliano].
Like the vast majority of composers from Pernambuco – like Capiba, José Menezes, Alírio Moraes, Antônio Maria and Nelson Ferreira – Getúlio never managed to make a living from his copyrights. When he receives some financial payment, it is small and reaches the artist four months after the release of the song, through the Brazilian Union of Composers (UBC), the collecting company of which he is a member.
It is worth highlighting that a book by the composer entitled “Por quem os blocos cantam?” [For Whom Do the Carnival Blocks Sing?], a kind of autobiography that he wrote over 20 years, was recently released in São Paulo by Editora Vitale.
One of the greatest successes of Getúlio is the Carnival frevo Último regresso, whose lyrics are presented below.
Falam tanto que meu bloco está
Dando adeus prá nunca mais sair
E depois que ele desfilar
Do seu povo vai se despedir
No regresso de não mais voltar
Suas pastoras vão pedir
Não deixem não
Que um bloco campeão
Guarde no peito a dor de não cantar
Um bloco a mais
É o sonho que se faz
Nos pastoris da vida singular
É lindo ver o dia amanhecer
Com violões e pastorinhas mil
Que o Recife tem
O carnaval melhor do meu Brasil.
They talk so much that my block is
Saying goodbye and never parading again.
And after it parades
To its people it will say goodbye
On its return no longer come back
Its pastors will ask
Don’t let, no
Such a champion block
Keep the pain of not singing in its chest
One carnival block more
It is the dream that it makes
In the pastoris of the singular life
It’s beautiful to see the dawn day.
With guitars and thousand shepherdesses
That Recife has
The best Carnival in my Brazil.
While excelling at simplicity, the poet and composer Getúlio Cavalcanti has enormous talent, charisma and intelligence. Through the beauty and simplicity of his verses, he has always brightened Carnival, while leaving an invaluable legacy for the country’s culture, and more specifically for the Carnival of Pernambuco, which undoubtedly represents the most popular party in all Brazil.
Recife, 23 March 2006.
(Updated on 20 November 2007).
Translated by Peter Leamy, November 2016.
BARRETO, José Ricardo Paes. Getúlio Cavalcanti: o menestrel do frevo-de-bloco. Recife: Cia. Pacífica, 2000.
______; PEREIRA, Margarida M. de Souza; GOMES, Maria J. Pereira. Dicionário dos compositores carnavalescos pernambucanos. Recife: Cia. Pacífica, 2001
GETÚLIO Cavalcanti: 40 anos de carnaval. Recife: [s. n], [19--]. (Série nossos valores).
GETÚLIO Cavalcanti. Disponível em: <http://www. Arteducação.pro.br/Cultura/frevo.htm>. Acesso em: 18 fev. 2005
GETÚLIO Cavalcanti. Disponível em: <http://www.blocodasaudade.org.br/frevodebloco/index.html>. Acesso em: 18 fev. 2005.
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Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Getúlio Cavalcanti. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Acesso em: dia mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.