An examination of selected piano works by Francisco Mignone, Lorenzo Fernandez and Marlos Nobre using the corresponding Brazilian dances as a guide to their performance

Simone Gorete Machado
College of Fine Arts, University of Arizona
July, 2006


This document provides a resource for performers of Brazilian piano music. Chapter One explains why an awareness and understanding of the choreography, historical and social context of the indigenous dances of Brazil are important to accurately interpret Brazilian piano music.
The second chapter investigates the development of music and dance in the Brazilian culture by examining the historical background and cultural origins of the three main influences on the resulting miscegenation within the population: Portuguese, Native Indians and Africans. A concise historical overview of the influence of dance on compositions for piano is presented in Chapter Three. The period of time covered is divided in two main phases. The period of European dominance is examined first through the composers Brazilio ItiberĂȘ da Cunha, Alexandre Levy and Alberto Nepomuceno. The second period covers the movement toward Nationalism after 1914, representative composers being Ernesto Nazareth, Heitor Villa-Lobos and Camargo Guamieri. Chapter Four introduces the four selected dances, CateretĂȘ, Jongo, Congada and Frevo, and provides insights into the origin, purpose, musical elements and choreography of these dances.
Finally, in Chapter Five a comparison is made of the similarities between the specific dance and its corresponding piano composition. Brief biographies of the composers, Francisco Mignone, Lorenzo Fernandez and Marlos Nobre are provided along with a discussion on how the piano performance can be enhanced by an understanding and portrayal of the dance.