Jobim, Antônio Carlos "Tom" (1927–1994)

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Jobim, Antônio Carlos "Tom" (1927–1994)

Antônio Carlos "Tom" Jobim (b. 25 January 1927; d. 8 December 1994), Brazilian composer. The most famous Brazilian songwriter, inside and outside of Brazil, Jobim was born in Rio de Janeiro. He studied with Lúcia Branco and Tomas Teran and was profoundly inspired by the works of Brazilian composer Villa-lobos. As a young man, Jobim worked for a time as an architect but soon gave that up to pursue music as a full-time career. He began playing in nightclubs as a pianist around 1950, then got a job with the Continental record label in 1952 transcribing music, followed by a post with Odeon as artistic director, and then worked for various artists as an arranger. During the mid- to late-1950s, he would compose songs (alone and in collaboration with Newton Mendonça, Luiz Bonfá, and poet Vinícius de Moraes) that prefigured and then defined the bossa-nova style. Jobim wrote the music for such enduring songs as "Garota de Ipanema" (The Girl from Ipanema), "Samba de uma nota só" (One Note Samba), "Desafinado" (Off-Key), "Aguas de março" (Waters of March), "Dindi," "Corcovado" (English title: "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars"), "Insensatez" (English title: "Foolishness"), and other standards often recorded by musicians in many countries. While singer-guitarist João Gilberto provided the bossa-nova style with its beat, Jobim contributed its most important melodic and harmonic elements.

Jobim's compositions are warm and intimate and incorporate difficult harmonies even as the composer strove for a subtle simplicity. He sometimes wrote his own lyrics, but usually collaborated with songwriters such as Vinícius de Moraes, with whom he wrote the ground-breaking bossa standard "Chega de saudade" (No More Blues [1956]), songs for Moraes's play Orfeu da conceição (1956), tunes such as "A Felicidade" for the 1959 film Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus), and later classics like "Garota de Ipanema" (1962). Jobim arranged João Gilberto's "Chega de saudade" (1959), considered the first bossa-nova album, and supplied several of its songs.

Jobim achieved international fame as a songwriter in the 1960s and recorded numerous albums over the next three decades as a singer-pianist. Some of Jobim's albums were strictly in the bossa vein, while others, such as Urubu (1976), which incorporated Brazilian regional music and evoked impressionistic classical music, ventured into other styles. Jobim (like João Gilberto) had a strong influence on succeeding generations of Brazilian musicians as well as on American jazz musicians in the 1960s and 1970s.

See alsoGilberto, João; Music: Popular Music and Dance.


Ruy Castro, Chega de saudade (1991).

Augusto De Campos, Balanço da bossa e outras bossas (1978).

José Eduardo Homem De Mello, Música popular brasileira (1976).

Chris Mc Gowan and Ricardo Pessanha, The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova, and the Popular Music of Brazil (1991).

Additional Bibliography

Cabral, Sérgio. Antônio Carlos Jobim: Uma biografia. Rio de Janeiro: Lumiar Editora, 1997.

Jobim, Helena. Antônio Carlos Jobim: Um homem iluminado. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Nova Fronteira, 1996.

                                     Chris McGowan