Born: 1880; Sao Paulo, Brazil
Died: 1935; Sao Paulo, Brazil
Born in 1880, Zequinha de Abreu was one of the prominent Brazilian composers of the Belle époque, having contributed to the establishment of the choro genre. His most famous composition, Tico-tico no Fubá ("Tico-tico Bird in the Cornmeal"), known abroad as "Tico-Tico," has been recorded worldwide, in many styles.
At five, Abreu was already a music enthusiast, spending hours delightedly observingRead more musicians. Abreu was given a little harmonica and quickly learned to play simple melodies. At seven, he started music classes with Dionísio Machado, and later with José Inácio. At this time, he organized a little band with his classmates at school. Moving to Itu to study at the Colégio São Luís, he was already playing an ocarina. At ten, he joined the group of José de Abreu, and, shortly after, in 1894, he entered the Episcopal Seminary to become a priest, his mother's wish. There he began to take harmony classes with the conductor José Pinto Tavares and a priest, Juvenal Kelly. One day, he decided to be a musician, ran out of the seminary, and went back home. On his way home, he composed the waltz "Flor da estrada." The band he formed in his home town gained local renown. In 1896, he composed the maxixe "Bafo de onça," and soon his xote "D'alva" and waltz "Soluços" were published. In 1899, Abreu married Durvalina Brasil, and soon after formed the Lira Santarritense and Smart Orchestra, both very successful in nearby upcountry cities. He worked in an office for a time, but kept composing: choros, marchinhas, waltzes, tangos, and other types of compositions. By 1915, he had already written nearly 100 compositions. In 1917, he played with his orchestra a new composition, still unnamed, at a dance. He commented to his band members that the excited dancers were just like tico-ticos (a kind of small bird) that had just found cornmeal. When he asked for suggestions for the name of the song, bassist Artur de Carvalho replied that he had already named it: Tico-tico no fubá.
In 1919, his father died and Abreu moved with his family to São Paulo, where he was hired by the publishing house Casa Beethoven as a sheet music demonstrator. Performing across the city, he promoted his own compositions, going door-to-door to demonstrate his songs and sell them directly to families. In 1924, his "Sururu na cidade," a humorous account of the 1924 revolution, had great success. Tico-tico no fubá was published only in 1930, and lyrics were added in 1931 by Eurico Barreiros. In 1933, Abreu founded the twenty-five-member Zequinha de Abreu Band. In 1942, Tico-tico no fubá was recorded for the first time with its "official" lyrics, by Ademilde Fonseca, the Queen of Choro. It had been recorded ten days before by Alvarenga e Ranchinho with lyrics by Alvarenga and subtitled "Vamos dançar, comadre." Carmem Miranda was also singing it in the U.S. with yet another set of lyrics by Aluísio de Oliveira. In 1943, the song gained worldwide fame when Walt Disney included it in his movie Saludos amigos. Abreu was an established and renowned composer by that time, and many of his other compositions were widely recorded and performed. Abreu died in 1935. His life was depicted in the movie Tico-tico no fubá, directed by Fernando de Barros and Adolfo Celi for Companhia Vera Cruz. Read less
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