In tomorrow’s class, we’ll spend part of our time on the Brazilian singer-songwriter Chico Buarque and his relationship to political resistance during the Brazilian military dictatorship that began in 1964 and intensified in 1968. One aspect of Buarque’s career that is common knowledge to Brazilian music specialists, but that might be lost on casual listeners, is how he has benefited from growing up in a culturally influential family. Chico’s father, Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, was a prominent historian; he participated in The Week of Modern Art in 1922 (a pivotal moment for Brazilian culture), and he often served as a cultural diplomat to other countries. His brief history of Brazil, Raizes do Brasil (1936), is one of the most celebrated books about Brazilian culture.
Sérgio’s legacy on Brazil is immense. Many of his children went on to effectively shape the cultural life in the twentieth century. Miúcha, Chico’s sister, was a friend of nueva canción innovator Violeta Parra. She also married bossa nova star João Gilberto (and is Bebel Gilberto’s mother). (Two of Chico’s other sisters, Ana and Cristina, are also singers.) As we will discuss tomorrow, one of Chico Buarque’s songs directly addresses the likely end of one of the Buarque de Holanda’s family friends. It’s easy to see from Chico’s history how his socially engaged music often takes part in a larger tradition of shaping and commenting on Brazilian society.