Buarque, Chico (1944–)

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Buarque, Chico (1944–)

Chico Buarque (Francisco Buarque de Holanda; b. 19 July 1944), Brazilian singer, songwriter, and writer. The son of historian Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, Buarque has distinguished himself as an insightful artist in the field of entertainment. He studied in Rio and São Paulo but abandoned architecture to dedicate himself to music in the mid-1960s. His involvement in drama began in 1966 with the musical settings for a stage version of João Cabral de Melo Neto's verse play Morte e vida severina (Death and Life of Severina). Through the historic songwriters' festivals of the late 1960s, Buarque gained national attention as an incomparable songsmith of both traditional vocal samba and bossa nova. Also known for the social criticism in his lyrics, he went into voluntary exile in Italy in 1969 to escape the military regime, which censored an appreciable portion of his work in the 1970s.

The composer's battles with government censors comprise a major chapter of the history of institutional intervention in the arts during that decade. His most controversial play, Calabar, a musical collaboration with Ruy Guerra, reexamined a Brazilian figure accused of treason during the Dutch occupation in the early seventeenth century. In 1974, Buarque published a novel, Fazenda modelo: Novela pecuária (Model Farm: A Bovine Novel), an allegorical socio-historical critique inspired by George Orwell. He also wrote some children's literature. On a cultural mission in 1978, Buarque made his first of several visits to Cuba and introduced some new Cuban music to the Brazilian public. In the 1970s and 1980s, in addition to crafted sentimental songs and numerous masterpiece sambas of social observation, Buarque wrote many songs for films (e.g., Bye Bye Brazil) and for his own stage productions, including Ópera do malandro (Hustler's Opera), which later was adapted for film. Buarque is respected as one of the leading performing songwriters in the history of the nation and as one of her most perspicacious artists.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America; Melo Neto, João Cabral de; Music: Popular Music and Dance; Theater.


Charles A. Perrone, "Dissonance and Dissent: The Musical Dramatics of Chico Buarque," in Latin American Theatre Review 22, no. 2 (1989): 81-94; Masters of Contemporary Brazilian Song: MPB, 1965–1985 (1989).

Additional Bibliography

Meneses, Adélia Bezerra de. Figuras do femenino na cancão de Chico Buarque. Sao Pãulo: Biotempo Editorial, 2000.

Werneck, Humberto. Chico Buarque: Letra é musica. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1989.

Woodall, James. A Simple Brazilian Song: Journeys through the Rio Sound. London: Little, Brown, 1997.

Zappa, Regina. Chico Buarque: Para todos. Rio de Janeiro: Relume Dumaraá, 1999.

                                   Charles A. Perrone