A virtuous flute player of great geniality, Pixinguinha set the foundations for Brazilian music, mixing the style of Ernesto Nazareth, Chiquinha Gonzaga and the first chorões with African and European rhythms and American Black music. As an arranger, in the orchestra of the Victor recording company in 1929, he incorporated Brazilian elements into a medium dominated by foreign techniques changing the way of orchestrating and arranging. He was a professional, when most musicians imported from Brazil were amateurs. He was a researcher always concerned with innovating Brazilian music.
With some two thousand songs, he is one of the most fertile composers of Brazilian Popular Music. A boy prodigy, Alfredo da Rocha Vianna played the cavaquinho (a kind of banjo) and also the flute at the age of 12, when he composed the choro Milk Can (Lata de Leite), inspired by the chorões, Bohemian musicians that after their nights out would take other people’s milk left outside the doors. At the age of 18, he recorded Rose (Rosa) and You Suffer Because You Want to (Sofres porque Queres). The fourteenth child of a musical family, when still young he would accompany his father, a flautist, in dances and parties, playing the cavaquinho. His grandmother Edwiges, born in Africa, approved the conduct of her grandson with a loving expression, Pizindin (good boy).
The boys of the neighbourhood preferred to call him Bexiguinha, a reference to the marks that smallpox had left on the boy’s face. Over time, the two names of Pizindin and Bexiguinha joined, becoming Pixinguinha. In 192, he had the experience that would mean a decisive change in his career: he went to Europe with the group known as Os Oito Batutas, to publicise Brazilian music. In the six months he spent in Paris, he had contact with modern European music and also with American jazz.
The groups led by Pixinguinha, the Typical Pixinguinha-Donga Orchestra, the Devils of the Sky (Diabos do Céu), the Old Guard (Guarda Velha) and the Columbia Orchestra of Pixinguinga, were all very important in the Brazilian phonographic industry. The most famous song, Endearing (Carinhoso) was composed in 1917 and performed for the first time in 1928, only with instruments - João de Barro would only write the lyrics in 1937, to be recorded by Orlando Silva. In the 1930s and 1940s, he recorded, with flute and saxophone, basic pieces of the choro repertoire, such as Hold Him (Segura Ele), I Still Recall (Ainda Me Recordo), At That Time (Naquele Tempo) and Embracing a Crocodile (Abraçando Jacaré).
In 1940, appointed by Villa-Lobos, he selected the popular musicians for the famous recording by maestro Leopold Stokowski, who publicised Brazilian music in the United States. He never stopped composing, not even when he had his first heart attack in 1964. For all this, Pixinguinha deserves to be hailed as one of the most significant geniuses that Brazilian Popular Music has ever had.
Book 100 Brasileiros(2004)