Highlights of Musical

About the works

The Coming Decline of Frevo

Tambourine Playing in Brazil

The African Influence in Brazilian Music

Frevo Steps and Music

Art and Artists

In Terms of Music from São Paulo

A Mistaken Analysis of a Brazilian Rhythm

Scales in Brazilian Folk Music

The Indians of Petrópolis

Índios or Cabôcos of Petrópolis

Notes on Playing Marbles

Variations on the Boi

Variations on the Baião

Variations on the Maxixe





An individual text from the private collection of Jane Guerra-Peixe

          After composer Guerra-Peixe read and reread the four thick volumes of Aesthetics, by Hungarian philosopher Lukàcs, his music turned towards communicating more with the listeners. The philosopher recommends that music have a title or subtitle suggestive of something extra-musical that will facilitate listeners’ understanding without the work degenerating into inapt or even tiresome descriptivism. He did this during the 1960s and has continued it up to the present day. Later the composer would no longer exaggerate the principle, but the idea is still a beacon of communicability, or in today’s language “communication.” The composer cited the most prominent examples: Beethoven, Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral”; and Mussorgsky’s “Pictures in an Exhibition.” Notwithstanding the cases where the title of a piece is merely a formal reference – academic but artistically valid – Guerra-Peixe’s works after the 1960s have the titles and subtitles Lukàcs called for. The composer confirmed their results not only in his folk music, but also his concert music. This experimentation - psychological we could call it – was not in vain, beginning with his symphonic Assimilações, which the Symphony Orchestra of Brazil supported but only played once!

          Roda de amigos is a set of four pieces that reflect the proposal. “O Rabugento,” “O Teimoso,” “O Melancólico” and “O Travesso” are movements that signal these ideas. The work has been recorded on phonographic records, conducted by and dedicated to Nelson de Macedo.

          O Pequeno Concerto for piano and orchestra – a “radio piece” written for a program for Rádio Nacional de São Paulo when the composer worked for the broadcaster – is not exactly a concertino, which explains the unusual name. It has three movements, no thematic development, but a cadenza typical of concerts.

          Minúsculas II are part of a series of six “Miniscule pieces” composed for piano, a didactic work for beginners, although not “infantile.” Heitor Alimonda played the six “Minúsculas” for the first time in a recital that included Brahms, Debussy and other significant names. The composer transcribed Minúsculas II for strings, with a few changes. Each piece in the series is a small suite, with a piano part of no more than two pages.

          Petrópolis de Minha Infância, composed for a chamber orchestra, premiered in Petrópolis conducted by Ernani Aguiar. It was a tribute to his native town, Petrópolis. The “’Baronesa’ Sobe a Serra” alludes to the steam engines that climbed the mountains between Raiz da Serra and Petrópolis. “Baroness” was the nickname the people gave the first steam engine that climbed the mountain, during the Second Imperial; it is on exhibit at the Museu Imperial de Petrópolis. However, the name was then applied to all other engines of that type. The composer  traveled many times on this train when he was studying violin in Rio de Janeiro. “Crianças na Praça da Liberdade” evokes the composer’s childhood when he played with his friends (male and female, naturally...) in the Liberdade Square. The City changed the name to Praça Rui Barbosa, but the people kept the tradition of calling it by its old name: Praça da Liberdade. Here children played hide-and-seek, circle games, hop-scotch, etc., things that today have been forgotten in many places, sadly due to commercial television. “Barquinhos do Cremerie” recalls the Cremerie neighborhood, which had a bar where the youth would dance as the pianist played music from that era. One favorite leisure activity for the children and young people was going to the artificial lake to row in the little boats there, a wholesome community pastime. Many a marriage was born between the oars, and many a couple fell to the perennial jealousy... The “Índios” of Morin were the remnants of Carnival that, in 1976, still remained from the many the Petrópolis Carnival once boasted. The more traditional and persistent “Indians” still lived in the Morin neighborhood in the 1970s. Its name was the French name of a German province; Petrópolis became home to many German families who named its neighborhoods after the provinces they had come from.

          Suíte Sinfônica nº. 2 – Pernambucana. Immediately after composing Suíte Sinfônica nº. 1 – PaulistaCateretê, Jongo, Recomenda de Almas and Tambu, a title that his folklorist friend Professor Rossini Tavares de Lima suggested, Guerra-Peixe composed Suíte Sinfônica nº. 2 – Pernambucana, which has four movements. Maracatu recalls the traditional processional music of Recife. By the way, the composer wrote a book on the subject, Maracatus do Recife, published in 1956; to date (1985), no one has needed to add a word!


          Dança de Cabocolinhos. It is named cabocolinhos (and not caboclinhos), the Carnival group and groups that perform dressed as “Indians.” They present a play in the neighborhoods where they are headquartered, but not in the city’s central Carnival. They have their own music that is at once sad and joyful. Their beauty and originality may ignite the community more than any other Carnival group, even more than the Maracatu and Frevo!

          Aboiado is synonymous with aboio, a song the cowherds sing to call in the cattle scattered in the great pastures. The suite’s theme is folkloric, duly altered to suit its intended purpose.

          Frevo. Does Frevo require explanation? The Frevo of Recife is something no one can imitate -take the frevos of Bahia, which are dull copies of the true frevos... What prevails in the street frevo, the instrumental and dance-inspiring frevo, is the noble, low timbre of the trombones. In the 1950s the band featured a requinta (small clarinet), a clarinet, two saxophones, two trumpets and four tubas to eight or ten trombones. At one time as many as twenty-five trombones played! So never trust a frevo without the trombone, without that low and noble sound.

          What must be considered in Guerra-Peixe’s works following his time in Recife researching popular and folk music is its Slavic characteristic. No Slavic composer influenced him, but he felt the Slavic presence in his folkloric studies along São Paulo’s northern coast, especially in Ubatuba. So why the Slavism? The subject needs further study, but the Spanish gypsies that came as mercenaries in the Dutch army could hold a key, but then there are the religious factors. Here things get more complex…