Died this Monday morning, 6, aged 76, the pianist João Carlos Assis Brazil. A versatile and unprejudiced musician, he dedicated himself both to the so-called erudite universe and to Brazilian music. In this way, he showed how the boundary between these two worlds is less rigid than one imagines. And left reference recordings of authors as Ernesto Nazareth and Villa-Lobos, central to our perception of the national repertoire.
Assis Brasil began his career in the mold of the classical pianist. In 1965, he was placed third in the Beethoven International Competition in Vienna, Austria. In the city, he took the opportunity to improve with professors Richard Hauser and Dieter Weber, also playing with the Vienna Philharmonic.
His experience in Austria opened the door to a circuit of performances in important venues such as London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Sala Brahms or the Meneghine Family Auditorium in Milan. throughout the 1970s.
In the following decade, however, its trajectory would become even broader. Back in Brazil, your contact with the pianist Clara Sverner, also a musician fond of combining repertoire, made him start to systematically interpret Brazilian authors who, until then, were seen as minor chapters of the country’s music.
Among them, an important highlight was Ernesto Nazareth. Looking at his work was actually a gateway to a reassessment of the entire period of the so-called Belle Époque in Rio, at the beginning of the 20th century. It was then that authors such as Nazareth and Chiquinha Gonzaga not only did they establish elements of a Brazilian piano school, but also showed the possibilities of combining the erudite and the popular, which a little later had influenced composers such as Heitor Villa-Lobos.
This broad look at musical creation was not limited to Brazilian music. In 1982, he and Clara Sverner recorded an album in which they joined works by scott joplin, American composer responsible, among other things, for the development of ragtime, and Erik Satie, a French avant-garde author whose miniatures proposed a reassessment of the use of the piano within the context of the first half of the 20th century. The two also collaborated on an album with works by Gershiwn, Ravel and Fauré.
At the same time, Assis Brasil began his work with jazz. In 1980, he founded, with Zeca Assumpção (bass) and Cláudio Caribé (drums), the João Carlos Assis Brasil Trio, which would later feature the participation of David Chew (cello) and Idriss Boudrioua (sax). She also started performing with artists such as Maria Bethânia, Zizi Possi, Alaíde Costa, Olívia Byington and Ney Matogrosso. And he was a soloist in concerts with the Symphonic Orchestra of the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian Symphonic Orchestra, the Porto Alegre Symphonic Orchestra and the São Paulo State Symphonic Orchestra, under the direction of Eleazar de Carvalho and John Neschling, among other conductors.
His discography has outstanding pieces, such as all pianos, Villa-Lobos by João Carlos Assis Brasil and self portrait (with works by his brother, Vitor Assis Brasil).