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Space Age Music Maker

Ary Barroso


  • Born 7 November 1903, Ub, Minas Gerais, Brazil
  • Died 9 February 1964, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Barroso is the most important Brazilian popular composer in the 40s and 50s. As "Brazil," his "Aquarela do Brasil", became the most successful Brazilian song until the bossa nova era.

Barroso studied classical piano and played in dance bands in Rio de Janeiro as a young man. Desparate for money to get married, he wrote the song, "Da Nela" and entered it into the 1930 annual Carnaval song contest run by the Casa Edison record label. The song won, and Barroso soon became a regular composer of Carnaval marchas and sambas.

He wrote "Aquarela do Brasil" in 1939, spurring a rush of tunes celebrating the attractions of Brazil. Walt Disney heard the tune during a 1941 visit and decided to include it in his 1942 cartoon contribution to Roosevelt's Latin American policy, Saludos Amigos. Disney invited Barroso to come to Hollywood, but he declined. He continued to contribute material for Disney, winning an Oscar nomination in 1944 for "Rio de Janeiro," a song from Brazil, and adapting an earlier Brazilian hit, "No Baixa do Sapateiro," which became a space age pop standard as "Baia," for The Three Caballeros.


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