Chiquinha Gonzaga

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Chiquinha Gonzaga
Chiquinha Gonzaga at age 78
Native name Francisca Edwiges Neves Gonzaga
Born (1847-10-17)October 17, 1847
Rio de Janeiro
Died February 28, 1935(1935-02-28) (aged 87) (death date then birth date) -->
Nationality Brazilian
Occupation Composer, Pianist, Conductor
Notable work Atraente, Ó Abre Alas, Forrobodó, Jurití
Style Choro, Polka, Samba, Brazilian tango, Marcha, Valsa
Spouse(s) Jacinto Ribeiro do Amaral
  • José Basileu Gonzaga (father)
  • Rosa Maria Neves de Lima (mother)
Chiquinha Gonzaga at age 18
"Atraente", composed by Chiquinha Gonzaga, recorded by Pixinguinha (saxophone) and Benedito Lacerda (flute).

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Francisca Edwiges Neves Gonzaga (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʃiˈkiɲɐ ɡõˈzaɡɐ]; October 17, 1847, Rio de Janeiro – February 28, 1935, Rio de Janeiro) was a Brazilian composer, pianist and conductor.[1]


Chiquinha Gonzaga was born in Rio de Janeiro, from a mulatto mother and a wealthy white father – after she was born her father became a marshal. Her godfather was Luís Alves de Lima e Silva, Duke of Caxias and one of her best friends was the first lady of Brazil, Nair de Tefé.

She fought for the end of slavery in Brazil. Gonzaga received an education that would ordinarily have led her to be a “sinhazinha”, a respectful officer's daughter. She learned how to read, write, and do math, but also music, especially how to play the piano, a distinctive mark of a real lady.

In 1863, at age 16, Francisca married Jacinto do Amaral, a navy official, eight years older than she was, who would not agree to allow Chiquinha to pursue a musical career. Also, Jacinto do Amareal was chosen by her father to marry Chiquinha even though she had expressed her disagreement with this arranged marriage. During their marriage, Chiquinha suffered psychological and physical abuses. With the marriage not doing well, Chiquinha, after having her third baby, fled her husband and was “declared dead and of unpronounceable name” by her father. She became the first woman in Brazil to obtain a legal divorce.[citation needed]

Chiquinha began to participate in balls and “chorões” reunions, normally reserved for men, where she met the flautist Joaquim Callado and started to play in his group, O Choro do Calado, being the first woman to play in this group. During this time she composed her first success, the polka Atraente, in 1877, “composed by the piano, as an improvisation, during a ‘choro’ meeting”. At that time, she was famous but highly criticized by the masculine society of her time.

Chiquinha was an active citizen, involved in all kinds of social movements that took place during her age in Brazil, such as the Abolition of Slavery and the Republican movement. In many situations, she acted in a leadership position.

Chiquinha is most known for her works for the Carnival in Brazil, such as Ó Abre Alas, and theatrical works, as for example, the operettas Forrobodó and Jurití. Her theatrical works were quite a success of public because she used elements from popular culture.


  1. ^ Nobre, Carlos (2014). Guia patrimonial da pequena África. Rio de Janeiro: Centro Porta Cultural. p. 33. ISBN 9788568310007. 

See also[edit]

  • Gaúcho, the most recorded tune by Chiquinha

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Mei, Giancarlo. Canto Latino: Origine, Evoluzione e Protagonisti della Musica Popolare del Brasile. 2004. Stampa Alternativa-Nuovi Equilibri. Preface by Sergio Bardotti and postface by Milton Nascimento. (Italian)
  • Cristina Magaldi. "Gonzaga, (Francisca Edwiges Neves) Chiquinha". In Macy, Laura. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press.  (subscription required)
  • RIBEIRO Tatiana. " Francisca Chiquinha Gonzaga ". Robin Edizioni. Turin, 2015.(Italian and Portuguese).