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Chico Buarque

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Chico Buarque
Buarque in 2023
Francisco Buarque de Hollanda

(1944-06-19) 19 June 1944 (age 80)
Alma materUniversity of São Paulo
  • Singer-songwriter
  • writer
  • poet
  • playwright
Years active1962–present
Notable work
(m. 1966; div. 1999)
Carol Proner
(m. 2021)
  • Sílvia
  • Helena
  • Luísa
Musical career

Francisco Buarque de Hollanda (born 19 June 1944), popularly known simply as Chico Buarque,[a] is a Brazilian singer-songwriter, guitarist, composer, playwright, writer, and poet. He is best known for his music, which often includes social, economic, and cultural reflections on Brazil.

The firstborn son of Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda, Buarque lived at several locations throughout his childhood, though mostly in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Rome. He wrote and studied literature as a child and found music through the bossa nova compositions of Tom Jobim and João Gilberto. He performed as a singer and guitarist in the 1960s as well as writing a play that was deemed dangerous by the Brazilian military dictatorship of the time. Buarque, along with several Tropicalist and MPB musicians, was threatened by the Brazilian military government and eventually left Brazil for Italy in 1969. However, he came back to Brazil in 1970, and continued to record, perform, and write, though much of his material was suppressed by government censors. He released several more albums in the 1980s and published three novels in the 1990s and 2000s.

In 2019, Buarque was awarded the Camões Prize, the most important prize for literature in the Portuguese language. However, awarding of the prize was delayed by four years due to actions by Jair Bolsonaro, but Buarque received it in April 2023.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Buarque was born in Rio de Janeiro on 19 June 1944. He came from an intellectually privileged family background—his father Sérgio Buarque de Holanda was a well-known historian, sociologist and journalist and his mother Maria Amélia Cesário Alvim was a painter and pianist. He is also brother of the singer Miúcha and politician Ana de Hollanda. As a child, he was impressed by the musical style of bossa nova, specifically the work of Tom Jobim and João Gilberto. He was also interested in writing, composing his first short story at 18 years old[2] and studying European literature, also at a young age.[3] One of his most consuming interests, however, was playing football, beginning at age four, and he still played regularly in his 60s.[3] During his childhood, he lived in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Rome.

Before becoming a musician, Buarque decided at one point to study architecture at the University of São Paulo, but this choice did not lead to a career in that field; Buarque often skipped classes.[4]

Chico Buarque in TV Rio, 1967. National Archives of Brazil.

He made his public debut as musician and composer in 1964, rapidly building his reputation at music festivals and television variety shows when bossa nova came to light and Nara Leão recorded three of his songs.[4] His eponymous debut album exemplified his future work, with catchy sambas characterized by inventive wordplay and an undercurrent of nostalgic tragedy. Buarque had his first hit with "A Banda" in 1966, written about a marching band, and soon released several more singles.[3] Although playing bossa nova, during his career, samba and Música popular brasileira would also be widely explored. Despite that, Buarque was criticized by two of the leading musicians at the time, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil as they believed his musical style was overly conservative.[4] However, an existentially themed play that Buarque wrote and composed in 1968, Roda Viva ("Live Circle"), was frowned upon by the military government and Buarque served a short prison sentence because of it.[4] He left Brazil for Italy for 18 months in 1970, returning to write his first novel in 1972, which was not targeted by censors.[2]

Chico Buarque performs in 2007.

At this time his thinly veiled protest single "Apesar de Você" ("In spite of You" – in reference to the military dictatorship) was also produced.[5] "Apesar de Você" was overlooked by the military censors, becoming an important anthem in the democratic movement. After selling over 100,000 copies, the single was eventually censored and removed from the market. At one point in 1974, the censors banned any song authored by Chico Buarque. Then, he created a pseudonym, naming himself "Julinho de Adelaide", complete with life history and interviews to newspapers. "Julinho de Adelaide"[6] authored songs such as "Jorge Maravilha" ("Wonder Jorge") and "Acorda Amor" ("Wake Up Love" as in a lover) before he was outed in a Jornal do Brasil news story.[7] Buarque also wrote a play named Calabar, about the Dutch invasion of Brazil in the seventeenth century, drawing parallels with the military regime.[8] Despite the censorship, songs such as "Samba de Orly" (1970), "Acorda amor" (1974, as "Julinho da Adelaide") manifested Buarque's continuing opposition to the military regime.

During the 1970s and 1980s, he collaborated with filmmakers, playwrights, and musicians in further protest works against the dictatorship. Buarque approached the 1983 Concert for Peace in Nicaragua as a valid forum to vocalize his strong political views. Throughout the decade, he crafted many of his songs as vehicles to describe the re-democratization of Brazil. The Concert for Peace in Nicaragua was one in a concert series known as the "Central American Peace Concerts." These concerts featured various Latin American artists. The political turmoil that plagued this era were expressed in many of Buarque's songs.[9][10] He later wrote Budapeste, a novel that achieved critical national acclaim and won the Prêmio Jabuti,[11] a Brazilian literary award comparable to the Booker Prize.

His 2017 album Caravanas was elected the 3rd best Brazilian album of that year by the Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone.[12]


Following the Brazilian military coup of 1964, Buarque avoided censorship by using cryptic analogies and wordplay. For example, in the song "Cálice" ("Chalice"), a duet written in 1973 with Gilberto Gil and released with Milton Nascimento in 1978,[13] he takes advantage of the homophony between the Portuguese imperative cale-se ("shut up") and cálice ("chalice") to protest government censorship, disguised as the Gospel narrative of Jesus' Gethsemane prayer to God to relieve him of the cup of suffering. The line "Quero cheirar fumaça de óleo diesel" ("I want to sniff diesel fumes") is a reference to the death of political prisoner Stuart Angel, who reportedly had his mouth glued to a jeep's exhaust pipe during a torture session.[14] Buarque was close to Stuart's mother, Zuzu Angel. This song is the subject of the final chapter of the book <First Chico Buarque> by Charles A. Perrone (London: Bloomsbury, 2022) in the Brazil 33 1/3 series.

Awards and recognitions[edit]


  • 1966: Chico Buarque de Hollanda (Vol. 1)
  • 1966: Morte e Vida Severina
  • 1967: Chico Buarque de Hollanda (Vol. 2)
  • 1968: Chico Buarque de Hollanda (Vol. 3)
  • 1969: Umas e outras – compacto
  • 1969: Chico Buarque na Itália
  • 1970: Apesar de você
  • 1970: Per un pugno di samba
  • 1970: Chico Buarque de Hollanda (Vol. 4)
  • 1971: Construção
  • 1972: Quando o carnaval chegar
  • 1972: Caetano e Chico - juntos e ao vivo
  • 1973: Chico canta, mildly edited by the censors of the Brazilian military government both in lyrics and title, it was originally called "Chico Canta Calabar".
  • 1974: Sinal fechado
  • 1975: Chico Buarque & Maria Bethânia ao vivo
  • 1976: Meus caros amigos
  • 1977: Cio da Terra compacto
  • 1977: Os saltimbancos
  • 1977: Gota d'água
  • 1978: Chico Buarque
  • 1979: Ópera do Malandro
  • 1980: Vida
  • 1980: Show 1º de Maio compacto
  • 1981: Almanaque
  • 1981: Saltimbancos trapalhões
  • 1982: Chico Buarque en espanhol
  • 1983: Para viver um grande amor
  • 1983: O grande circo místico
  • 1984: Chico Buarque (Vermelho)
  • 1985: O Corsário do rei
  • 1985: Ópera do Malandro
  • 1985: Malandro
  • 1986: Melhores momentos de Chico & Caetano
  • 1987: Francisco
  • 1988: Dança da meia-lua
  • 1989: Chico Buarque
  • 1990: Chico Buarque ao vivo Paris le Zenith
  • 1993: Para Todos
  • 1995: Uma palavra
  • 1997: Terra
  • 1998: As cidades
  • 1998: Chico Buarque da Mangueira
  • 1999: Chico ao vivo
  • 2001: Chico e as cidades (DVD)
  • 2001: Cambaio
  • 2002: Chico Buarque – Duetos
  • 2003: Chico ou o país da delicadeza perdida (DVD)
  • 2005: Meu Caro Amigo (DVD)
  • 2005: A Flor da Pele (DVD)
  • 2005: Vai passar (DVD)
  • 2005: Anos Dourados (DVD)
  • 2005: Estação Derradeira (DVD)
  • 2005: Bastidores (DVD)
  • 2006: O Futebol (DVD)
  • 2006: Romance (DVD)
  • 2006: Uma Palavra (DVD)
  • 2006: Carioca (CD + DVD with the documentary Desconstrução)
  • 2007: Carioca Ao Vivo
  • 2011: Chico Buarque
  • 2012: Na Carreira (DVD)
  • 2017: Caravanas
  • 2018: "Caravanas - Ao vivo"

Other works[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

The cover art of the Buarque's 1966 album Chico Buarque de Hollanda became a viral internet meme with "happy" Chico and "sad" Chico.[17]


  1. ^ Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈʃiku buˈaʁki].


  1. ^ Demony, Catarina; Pereira, Miguel (2023-04-24). "Brazilian legend Buarque receives prestigious literary award...four years late". Reuters. Retrieved 2023-06-03.
  2. ^ a b Hunt, Jemima (July 18, 2004). "The lionised king of Rio". The Observer. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved March 24, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c de Haan, Maarten (August 2006). "Chico Buarque". Artist Interviews. Retrieved March 24, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d Dougan, John. "Biography". Allmusic. All Media Guide. Retrieved March 23, 2008.
  5. ^ de Sousa, Dolores Puga Alves (2004). "Os Sessenta Anos de um Artista: "Chico Buarque do Brazil", Organização de Rinaldo de Fernandes". Fênix: Revista de História e Estudos Culturais (in Portuguese). 1 (1). ISSN 1807-6971.
  6. ^ "Julinho da Adelaide". Chico Buarque. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013. Retrieved July 11, 2013.
  7. ^ Motta, Nelson (2000). Noites Tropicais – Solos, Improvisos e Memórias Musicais (in Portuguese). Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Editora Objetiva. ISBN 85-7302-292-2.
  8. ^ Martins, Christian Alves (2007). "Tempos de Intolerância: Chico conta Calabar". Fênix: Revista de História e Estudos Culturais (in Portuguese). 4 (3). ISSN 1807-6971. Archived from the original on July 27, 2020. Retrieved March 23, 2008.
  9. ^ Béhague, Gerard (Spring–Summer 2006). "Rap, Reggae, Rock, or Samba: The Local and the Global in Brazilian Popular Music (1985–95)". Latin American Music Review. 27 (1): 79–90. doi:10.1353/lat.2006.0021. S2CID 191430137.
  10. ^ Gonzalez, Mike (May 1987). "April in Managua: The Central American Peace Concert". Popular Music. 6 (2): 247–249. doi:10.1017/S0261143000006061. JSTOR 853429. S2CID 161149412.
  11. ^ "Chico Buarque ganha Prêmio Jabuti com Budapeste". O Globo (in Portuguese). Câmara Brasileira do Livro. September 10, 2004. Retrieved March 23, 2008. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Melhores Discos Nacionais de 2017". Rolling Stone Brasil. Grupo Spring de Comunicação. 2017. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  13. ^ "UOL Mais > Cálice – Chico Buarque e Gilberto Gil". Mais.uol.com.br. February 24, 2008. Retrieved July 11, 2013.
  14. ^ (in Portuguese) "'Bebida amarga' não era metáfora em 'Cálice'". Futepoca. January 29, 2010.
  15. ^ Marco Rodrigo Almeida (May 29, 2010). "Prêmio São Paulo de Literatura divulga finalistas". Folha de S.Paulo. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  16. ^ PÚBLICO (21 May 2019). "Chico Buarque é o Prémio Camões de 2019". PÚBLICO (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2019-05-21.
  17. ^ "Pedro Antunes - A história do meme: Chico Buarque acha "absurda" a capa que virou piada". www.uol.com.br (in Brazilian Portuguese). 21 July 2017. Retrieved 2022-08-22.

External links[edit]