Pianist Joo Carlos Assis Brasil dies aged 76 – Culture

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Joo Carlos Assis Brasil left reference recordings by authors such as Ernesto Nazareth and Villa-Lobos, central to our perception of the national repertoire (photo: Disclosure)

Died on the morning of this Monday, (6/9), at the age of 76, the pianist Joo Carlos Assis Brasil. Versatile and unprejudiced musician, he dedicated himself so much to the call universe erudite how much Brazilian music. In this way, he showed how the border between these two worlds is less rigid than one imagines. And he left reference recordings by authors such as Ernesto Nazareth and Villa-Lobos, central to our perception of national repertoire.

Assis Brasil began his career in the mold of the classic pianist. In 1965, he took third place at the Beethoven International Competition in Vienna, Austria, taking third place. 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 presentations in important venues such as London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Brahms Room or the Meneghine Family auditorium in Milan. There are only three of the theaters in which he established himself as a recitalist throughout the 1970s.

In the following decade, however, its trajectory would become even wider. Back in Brazil, his contact with pianist Clara Sverner, who is also a musician fond of combining repertoire, made him begin 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 poque in Rio, at the beginning of the 20th century.

It was then that authors such as Nazareth and Chiquinha Gonzaga not only established elements of a Brazilian piano school, but also showed the possibilities of combining the erudite and the popular, which a little later would influence 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 brought together works by Scott Joplin, the American composer responsible, among other things, for the development of ragtime, and Erik Satie, an avant-garde French 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 Faur.

At the same time, Assis Brasil began his work with jazz. In 1980, he founded, with Zeca Assumpo (bass) and Cludio Carib (drums), the Joo 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 Bethnia, Zizi Possi, Alade Costa, Olvia Byington and Ney Matogrosso. And he was a soloist in concerts with the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Theater Symphony Orchestra, the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, the Porto Alegre Symphony Orchestra and the So Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Eleazar de Carvalho and John Neschling, between other conductors.

His discography has outstanding pieces, such as All pianos, Villa-Lobos by Joo Carlos Assis Brasil and Self Portrait (with works by his brother, Vitor Assis Brasil).