Gismonti, Egberto (1944–)

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Gismonti, Egberto (1944–)

Egberto Gismonti, a Brazilian composer, guitarist, and pianist, was born December 5, 1944, in Carmo, Rio de Janeiro, into a family that included many professional musicians, including a grandfather and an uncle who were both band directors. He enrolled for his first music lessons in the musical conservatory of Nova Friburgo in the state of Rio de Janeiro at age five. After fifteen years of study with Jacques Klein and Aurelio Silveira, he was awarded a grant for study in Vienna. An arrangement of one of his compositions, O Sonho, written for an orchestra of one hundred performers, was performed in Rio in 1968. Shortly thereafter he went to France, where he continued his musical studies with Nadia Boulanger and Jean Barraqué, who had been a student of Anton Webern. He also worked as a professional accompanist.

Gismonti then moved beyond his conservatory roots to employ electronic instruments and a wide variety of percussion instruments, as well as to incorporate elements of the Amazonian Xingu people's sounds and sensibilities into his music. In the 1970s and 1980s his recordings for the European record label ECM gained an international following among those primarily interested in jazz or New Age music. He has been active as a composer of film music, scoring A Penúltima Donzela (1969), Em Família (1971), and Confissões do Frei Abóbora (1971). His compositions have also been performed by adventurous classical ensembles such as the Turtle Island String Quartet.

See alsoMusic: Art Music; Music: Popular Music and Dance.


Bahiana, Ana Maria. Nada será como antes: MPB nos anos 70. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1980.

Fregtman, Carlos D., and Egberto Gismonti. Música transpersonal. Barcelona: Kairós, 1990.

Marcondes, Marcos Antônio. Enciclopédia da música Brasileira: Erudita, folclórica e popular. São Paulo: Art Editora, 1977.

Souza, Tárik de, and Elifas Andreato. Rostos e gostos da música popular Brasileira. Porto Alegre: L&PM Editores, 1979.

                                        David P. Appleby

                                      Andrew Kirkendall