"Aquarela do Brasil" (Watercolor of Brazil), known in the English-speaking world simply as "Brazil", is one of the most famous Brazilian songs of all time, written by Ary Barroso in 1939.
Ary Barroso wrote "Aquarela do Brasil" in early 1939, when he was prevented from leaving his home one night due to a heavy storm. Its title, a reference to watercolor painting, is a clear reference to the rain. He also wrote "Três Lágrimas" (Three teardrops) on that same night, before the rain ended.
Describing the song in an interview to Marisa Lira, of the newspaper Diário de Notícias, Barroso said that he wanted to "free the samba away from the tragedies of life, of the sensual scenario already so explored". According to the composer, he "felt all the greatness, the value and the wealth of our land", reliving "the tradition of the national panels".
Initially, he wrote the first chords, which he defined as "vibrant", and a "plangent of emotions". The original beat "sang on [his] imagination, highlighting the sound of the rain, on syncope beats of fantastic tambourins". According to him, "the rest came naturally, music and lyrics at once". He declared to have felt like another person after writing the song.
Antonio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim was born in 1927 in the Tijuca section of Rio de Janeiro. His family moved to the Ipanema district, one of the new boroughs in expanding Rio. Jobim grew up surrounded by lush forests which stretched down to the warm waters of the Atlantic. "I believe I learned my songs from the birds of the Brazilian forest," he once said.
Jobim was a beach boy in the 1930s. His father, a diplomat and poet, died when Jobim was eight. His family ran a private school, the Brasiliero de Almeida, and it was that Jobim first encountered the piano. His step-father oversaw Jobim’s musical education and he began study with Hans Joachim Koellreutter at the age of fourteen. Soon Jobim added guitar and harmonica to the list of instruments he had mastered.
Jobim grew up listening to samba and other native sounds which he heard in the streets and clubs of Ipanema. Samba was a style of music originating in the Afro-Brazilian favelas, or shanty towns, of Rio and other cities. In the thirties, radio play and records made this music became popular among all classes. Sambistas, aficionados of the music, would follow their favorite bands from bar to bar, until the sun came up. Later Jobim would come under the influence of the French Impressionists, Debussey and Ravel, as well as the cool jazz of American artists like Miles Davis and Gil Evans. These influences would cometogether in Jobim’s own compositions.
Album Stone Flower 1970.