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Valença Brothers

Date Born.:
04/02/1890 and 08/07/1894

Instrumentalists, Composeres

Valença Brothers

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 05/02/2013

By: Cynthia Campos - Coordinator at Biblioteca Central Blanche Knopf

Instrumentalists and composers João Vitor do Rego Valença and Raul do Rego Valença, sons of João Bernardo do Rego Valença Filho and Maria Martins do Rego Valença, were born in the Madalena neighbourhood in the city of Recife on 2 April 1890 and 7 August 1894, respectively. They formed an expressive pairing in Pernambuco Carnival music and were known throughout Brazil as the Irmãos Valença (Valençca Brothers).

The Valença family was famous for performing a traditional Christmas operetta O Presépio dos Irmãos Valença (The Crib of the Valença Brothers), staged for the first time in Recife, in 1865, by the couple João Bernardo do Rego Valença and Dona Ana Alexandrina do Rego Valença, grandparents of João and Raul, at the Valença farm in the Madalena neighbourhood. The Presépio originated in Aracati, Ceará, and was bought to Recife by Dona Alexandrina. The performances were interrupted in 1880 and 1900, João and Raul reactivated the operetta in 1910. Presépio passed through many difficulties in delivering its performances. Currently, it is in its sixth generation and is staging is restricted to family and friends.

João Vitor, at the age of only eight, learned to play the piano, and later was taught how to read music. Raul, aged 20, studied guitar. Both continued learning by self-teaching. Without a doubt, the fact that Presépio was staged at their home influenced the brothers in their compositions of music for the stage, comedies, marches, Carnival music and maracatu.

In 1924, together with cousins and friends, they founded the theatrical society Grêmio Familiar Madalenense (Madalena Family Guild). It was at this time that they composed their first music. They began with the operetta Espinho de rosa (Rose Thorn) (1924), followed soon afterward the musical comedies Gato escaldado (Scalded Cat), Cartazes de amor (Love Letters), and Coração de violeiro (The Violinist’s Heart) (a regional operetta).

João Valença wrote the songs: Viola querida (Dear Viola), Capionga and Devoção (Devotion), as well as various hymns like Hino Juarez Távora, Hino do detento (Detention Hymn) and Hino de São Sebastião (Hymn of St Sebastian), the latter with Ariano Suassuna. He composed with several partners, among them Silvino Lopes and Samuel Campelo, the theatrical plays: Noite de novena, Uma senhora viúva (A Widow) and Luar do Norte (Northern Moonlight). He also created songs for the children’s plays O Pequeno Polegar (The Little Thumb) and Mulatinha (Little Mulatto Girl). They were presented at the Guild and later at Santa Isabel Theatre by the group Gente Nossa.

In 1928, the brothers composed a Carnival march called Mulata which was played widely by orchestras in Recife’s clubs. In 1932, Lamartine Babo, a musician from Rio de Janeiro, recorded this march by keeping the music and changing the lyrics and the title to O teu cabelo não nega (Your Hair Doesn’t Deny). João and Raul Valença took legal action to confirm they had written the song and courts delivered a favourable decision to them. However, Lamartine was granted co-writing rights of the Carnival march that had been a huge success in Brazil. In 1975, they recorded the LP Pastoril for Rozemblit.

Main work:

Among so many compositions, the following stand out: A lua veio ver (The Moon Came to See), Vou pedir a pape (I’ll Ask the Pape), Boneca sem coração (Heartless Doll), Mandarim (Mandarin), Romance sertanejo (Country Romance), Iracema, Vila de Pinho, Mandinga, Capionga, Devoção (Devotion), Malmequer (Don’t Want Me) and Maracatucá (in partnership with journalist jornalista Silvino Lopes it won second place in a competition run by the Federação Carnavalesca, Rádio Clube de Pernambuco and Diario de Pernambuco, in 1938); Você não gosta de mim (You Don’t Like Me); Tive um sonho que durou três dias (I Had A Dream That Lasted For Three Day); O meu bode anda solto (My Goat’s Still Lose); O teu lencinho (Your Handkerchief); Máscaras de veludo (Velvet Masks); Pisa a baiana (Dance the Baiana), Foi você que me deu um beijo (It Was You Who Gave Me A Kiss); Mulata (recorded in 1932 by Lamartine Babo under the title O teu cabelo não nega (Your Hair Doesn’t Deny); with the maracatu Ô, já vou (Hey, I’m Coming) and the marches Nós dois (Us Two) and Foi você (It Was You) were three-time champions of the Recife Carnival.

Theatrical plays: Maior riqueza (Greater Wealth), Mancheiros de rosas (Rose-coloured Stains), A cigana (The Gypsy).

Various music for theatrical plays: Luar do Norte (Northern Moonlight), Morenas brasileiras (Brazilian Brunettes), Noites de novena, Cartazes de amor.(Love Letters).

João Valença died on 7 August 1983 and Raul on 16 July 1977. Before passing away, Raul had already prepared the ‘frevo-canção’ song Xique-xique-bum and the ‘maracatu’ song Rainha dos Palmares (Queen of the Palms), for the 1978 Carnival.

Recife, 26 February 2010.
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2011.


sources consulted

IRMÃOS Valença. Disponível em: <
BiografiaIrmaosValenca.htm>. Acesso em: 22 fev. 2010.

IRMÃOS Valença. Disponível em: <
nome=Irm%E3os+Valen%E7a&tabela=T_FORM_E&qdetalhe=his>. Acesso em: 22 fev. 2010.

IRMÃOS VALENÇA. In: CÂMARA, Renato Phaelante. MPB: compositores pernambucanos; coletânea bio-músico-fonográfica, 1920-1995. Recife: Fundaj, Editora Massangana, 1997. p. 64. (Estudos e Pesquisas, 96).

OS QUE fazem o carnaval. Anuário do Carnaval Pernambucano 1938. Recife: Federação Carnavalesca Pernambucana, 1938.

PCR apresenta o presépio dos Irmãos Valença. Disponível em: <
o_presepio_dos_irmaos_valenca_164953.php>. Acesso em: 22 fev. 2010.

SENA, Márcia. Presépio dos Irmãos Valença – 143 anos: trajetória de uma tradição familiar. Recife, 2008.


how to quote this text

Source: BARBOSA, Virgínia. Valença Brothers. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.