Born on a boat
Sebastião Tapajós, born in 1943 in Brazil, has recorded over 50 albums and in his long career as ‘violonista’. Born on a boat during his father’s travels as a salesman, his birth name was Sebastião Pena Marçião – he later adopted the name of the Rio Tapajós as his own. The river flows into the Amazon, and this was way his way of acknowledging his origins, and the source of his inspiration.
Tapajós first began playing at the age of nine, under the tutelage of his father, whose shop was a focal point for the local community. When there were customers, there was also music and singing. ‘It was always very hot there’ says Tapajós, recalling one of his first performances, ‘and one day my father’s guitar just gave up the ghost. I jumped in and played the whole day’. By the age of twelve, he was able to play melodies from the radio by ear, and joined a dance band playing popular Brazilian music. When, however, he heard a recording of a Chopin mazurka by the Brazilian guitarist Garoto, his entire musical perspective changed. He borrowed money from friends to begin his studies at the Belém College of Music.
Later, in 1963, he continued formal study at the Rio Conservatory, and in 1964 moved to Portugal to continue his studies at the Lisbon National Music Conservatory. On graduating, he then moved to Spain, to study at the Hispanic Cultural Institute.
Returning to Brazil to concentrate upon a performing career, his moment came with a rendition of Heitor Villa-Lobos’ ‘Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra’, performed with the National Symphony Orchestra at the prestigious Teatro Municipal in Rio. This was his entrée into the world of concert performances, and he embarked on tours of Brazil and the US to great critical acclaim.
As a composer, Tapajós draws upon Brazilian popular music, while avoiding popular cliché. His playing style is vigorous and incisive, incorporating the full range of possibilities offered by the acoustic guitar. He makes a point of presenting other figures from Brazilian musical culture in his concerts. He has also extensively recorded the work of other Brazilian composers like Tom Jobim, Baden-Powell, Astor Piazolla, Villa-Lobos and others – despite his own prodigious compositional activities.
Sebastião Tapajós suffered a stroke in 2001, but was nonetheless back on stage three months later. His performing career has spanned almost 60 years and shows no sing of slowing down. He is particularly popular in Germany, where he regularly performs with the Berlin Philharmonic, and was awarded the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis, effectively a Lifetime Achievement award by German critics.
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
Concerts, Films, Exhibition, Discussions
(22 July 10 - 13 August 10)