Nazareth, Ernesto (1863–c. 1934)

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Nazareth, Ernesto (1863–c. 1934)

Ernesto Nazareth (Jú lio de Nazareth; b. 20 March 1863; d. ca. 2 February 1934), Brazilian salon pianist and composer. Nazareth's father, Vasco Lourenzo da Silva Nazareth, was a customs official, and his mother, Carolina Augusta Pereira da Cunha, a pianist who gave her son his first piano lessons. After his mother's death in 1873, Nazareth continued his musical studies with Eduardo Madeira and Lucien Lambert. An early intense interest in the music of Chopin continued to grow and became an important factor in the development of his compositional style. From 1920 to 1924 he played daily in the Cinema Odeon in Rio de Janeiro, where one of the cellists, Heitor Villa-Lobos, admired Nazareth's salon style of playing. When describing the choro as a musical genre, Villa-Lobos frequently spoke of his own compositions as music in the style of Nazareth and other salon musicians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Although Nazareth's compositions are exclusively piano pieces in salon style, Nazareth was the most important composer of popular music of his time. His approximately 220 compositions were an important source of ideas for composers in the emergent nationalist school of music. His works often bore a sophisticated or whimsical title of subtle meaning comprehensible only to a "carioca" (urban resident of Rio de Janeiro), such as Odeon, Espalhafatoso, and Esta chumbado. Subtitles were names of dances, provided in what often appeared to be a haphazard fashion, resulting in a fusion of dance forms such as maxixe, polka, polka-maxixe. During his lifetime Nazareth's music was performed only for entertainment in salon settings, but his music achieved a much wider audience after his death, often appearing on concert programs.

See alsoMusic: Art Musicxml .


Gérard Béhague, "Popular Musical Currents in the Art of Music of the Early Nationalistic Period in Brazil, c. 1870–1920" (Ph.D. diss., Tulane Univ., 1966).

Additional Bibliography

Nazareth, Ernesto. Ernesto Nazareth: A Collection of His Finest Piano Works. San Francisco: Guitar Solo Publications, 2001.

Newman, Paul Jared. Ernesto Nazareth: Brazilian Tangos. Pacific, MO: Mel Bay, 2001.

                                      David P. Appleby