Rio de Janeiro is a city that with its eternal summer and its urban beaches invites hedonism. It is easy to imagine the poet Vinicius de Moraes —a vividor who adored women, his friends and whiskey— composing girl from ipanema in a bar in a bathing suit drink in hand. But not. His granddaughter Julia draws this caricature of the father of the bossa nova before describing the laborious creative process. He wrote in the mornings, sitting at a table. The originals of his work allow you to see “the settings, the search for the correct word. He writes a lot and then he synthesizes, because Vinicius is the poet of simplicity, of poetic synthesis ”, he emphasizes.
“It’s better to be happy than sad
Joy is the best thing there is”
The granddaughter quotes the verses with which the blessing of samba. Anyone can now peek into that intimate process of the poet, composer, playwright, film critic and diplomat, who died four decades ago in his Rio de Janeiro home.
Vinicius de Moraes, naked. You can browse all his work, see the scribbles of his corrections, versions and additions, in the newly released digital file. From anywhere in the world and for free. It is no longer necessary to travel to Rio de Janeiro to snoop in the roles that make up a huge and diverse work: sambas, sonnets, film scripts, plays, film reviews … which are a hymn to happiness, beauty, enjoyment of the life.
Sons and grandchildren called him Vinicius, says Julia, a filmmaker, who was six years old when he died in 1980. Her memories of him are photographic … images of the great encounters in the family home in Rio de Janeiro, with a table full of people. He loved receiving friends.
Julia Moraes chatted with this newspaper last Tuesday in the open air and wearing a mask because the pandemic is still hitting hard in Brazil. It was in the charming garden of the Casa Rui Barbosa Foundation, in Rio, which preserves the documentary legacy of Moraes and other illustrious Brazilians.
The granddaughter, who has led the project to create the digital archive, gushes about the poet as she quotes here and there a verse, the title of a song, or many of the artists with whom the grandfather collaborated.
Scholars, those who fell in love with Brazil through its music or curious in general, can browse through 11,000 documents, including the originals of 260 songs. Among the conserved, there is a lack girl from ipanemto. The family does not know what became of the original of the most popular hymn in Brazil, inspired by Helo Pinheiro, a woman who still lives in Ipanema, a wealthy neighborhood. (The song is a classic that Anitta, one of the most famous singers in Brazil, has just updated).
It also does not include sound or visual files. The family intends to encourage new research, future discoveries. “We want to democratize access to knowledge,” he stresses. These are dark times for culture in Brazil due to the pandemic and Bolsonarism.
The four sheets on which it was written Enough of missing include neat smudges scrawled by the author as he wrote the lyrics that, with music by Tom Jobim, became the symbolic song of the bossa nova (new wave). The trio that gave birth to it is completed by the singer and guitarist João Gilberto, who died in 2019. That style exported by peripheral Brazil “united popular culture with scholarly culture to create something new, an amalgam of tradition and modernity”, describes the filmmaker . They combined the black culture of Rio’s favelas with traditional poetry. A rhythm turned into the soundtrack of that promising Brazil, of the future, which aimed to improve national self-esteem, to enhance the best of a country whose best-known face was another. Poverty, violence, injustices. Lacras that, mitigated, persist. That Brazil that seduced Stefan Zweig and that had the architect Oscar Niemeyer or Pelé among its icons.
Among the private correspondence, letters from Charles Chaplin and Orson Welles from the times when the poet was vice consul in Los Angeles (USA), just after World War II to which Brazil contributed soldiers in the Allied ranks. The consulate was at 6606 Sunset Boulevard, where Chaplin writes to thank him for sending a film magazine launched by the Brazilian and promises to send him an autographed photo. Welles’s letter is informal, from friends. After complaining about the Hearst newspapers, he tells her that they need to see each other soon to eat. The diplomat and artist accompanied him during the filming of The Lady of Shanghai and, back in his homeland, he began to write scripts.
Among the manuscripts, the score of The happiness, from foolishness, of Loyalty Sonnet o de The Dawn Symphony, written with Jobim for the inauguration of Brasilia as the capital six decades ago.
The filmmaker’s granddaughter’s favorite piece has to do with her job, hers. It is the script of Black orpheus with annotations from the grandfather. The French film Marcel Camus won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, an Oscar in 1960 and contributed to the international fame of Brazilian popular music. The film is an adaptation of the play Orpheus of the Conception, in which Vinicius de Moraes put enthusiasm and money, the Greek myth of Orfeo transferred to the Rio de Janeiro favelas. “What does Vinicius say at the beginning of the play? This play can be mounted anytime, anywhere as long as the actors are black. What do I understand you mean? That black culture is as great as the Greek one ”, explains Julia Moraes, who recalls that, for the first time, black artists starred in a play at the Municipal Theater of Rio, located a few blocks from the docks through which millions of slaves arrived from Africa.
The playwright paid for the show out of his pocket. Wanting something grand, monumental, he called Niemeyer to design the set. And it was the search for a composer for the music of the work that led to his meeting with Tom Jobim, which led to a very successful artistic collaboration of decades. Despite the fame it gave him, the film “did not like it, he was more of a traditional film man.”
The intellectual died at the age of 66, after a lot of whiskey, nine wives and great parties with friends. He left behind a vast and multifaceted intellectual production that did not cease in his years as a diplomat, abruptly ending in 1968, when the dictatorship threw him out of the race as a bohemian.
The originals of his work and his photos managed to survive the many moves and the breakdown of their marriages and, what is more, remain as a group throughout the years. The achievement is due to the fact that he himself always wanted to preserve his legacy for posterity and had the invaluable complicity of his sisters. Ligia, the oldest, single without children, took pains to gather everything in the garage of the family home. There it was preserved for decades. Throughout her life she also took care of the money and the bureaucratic life of her artist brother.
The descendants of Vinicius de Moraes are a clan in which artists proliferate and that, miracle, has survived together with the management of copyright, in the antipodes of the financial and family disputes that embittered the last years of João Gilberto. Julia’s father, Pedro, a photographer, and four other sons of the composer manage his legacy. She, who blames Universal for having started Gilberto’s spiral of problems, assures that there are no disputes between the Moraes, they decide by consensus. She has been accompanied in this digitization project by a great-nephew of the poet, Marcus Moraes.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.