Biografía Vinicius de Moraes
Vinicius de Moraes, nicknamed O Poetinha (the little poet) (October 19, 1913 - July 9, 1980), born Marcus Vinicius da Cruz de Mello Moraes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, son of Lydia Cruz de Moraes and Clodoaldo Pereira da Silva Moraes, was a seminal figure in contemporary Brazilian music. As a poet, he wrote lyrics for a great number of songs that became all-time classics. He was also a composer of Bossa nova, a playwright, a diplomat and, as an interpreter of his own songs, he left several important albums.
Son of Clodoaldo da Silva Pereira Moraes - a City Hall officer, as well as poet and amateur guitar player - and Lidia Cruz - a housewife and amateur pianist - Vinicius was born in 1913 in the neighborhood of Gávea, then a backwater suburb of Rio de Janeiro. Vinicius began writing poetry early in life: in 1916, after he moved with his family to the downtown quarter of Botafogo, he wrote his first verse as he attended classes at Afrânio Peixoto Primary School. In 1922, Moraes's parents moved to another suburb, Governador Island, while he stayed at his grandfather's downtown home in order to finish primary school, going to his parents' home only at weekends and during holidays. During his visits to his folks' home, Vinicius was to get in touch with various musicians, among them the composer Bororó.
From 1924 onwards, Vinicius de Moraes attended high school at the traditional Jesuit-sponsored St. Ignatius School, where he sang in the congregation choir and began to write short theatrical sketches. Three years later, he became friends with the brothers Paul and Haroldo Tapajos, with whom he assembled his first musical compositions, which were performed at friends' parties. In 1929 he completed high school, as his family moved back to Gávea. This same year, he was admitted to the Faculty of Law at the University of Rio de Janeiro (nowadays National School of Law of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)), which until 1937 was located at a mansion in downtown Rio (Casarão of Catete). At the "School of Catete," he met and became friends with essayist and future novelist Octavio de Faria, an activist integrist Catholic and a leader of the group of rightwing Catholics organized around Centro Dom Vital, a think-tank created by the intellectual Jackson de Figueiredo shortly before his untimely death.
Apart from the diplomatic service, where he served until the end of 1968, Moraes became a prestigious playwright with the staging of his musical play "Orpheus of the Conception" (1954). With only a draft version, in 1954, Vinicius' original play won the contest commemorating the Fourth Centennial Celebration of the founding of the City of São Paulo. Later, in 1956, during the production of his play, he was introduced to a relatively unknown pianist, Antônio Carlos Jobim, who was commissioned with writing the music for the play. Jobim composed the music for Se Todos Fossem Iguais a Você, Um Nome de Mulher, and several other songs included in the production.
In the 60's and 70's, Vinicius continued collaborating with many renowned Brazilian singers and musicians, particularly Baden Powell, with whom he penned a series of songs with a heavy Afro-Brazilian influence and which came to be known collectively as the Afro-Sambas.
As a known bohemian and a diplomat, Vinicius didn't endear himself as a civil servant to the petty moralizing military that had taken power in Brazil after the military coup d'etat of 1964, being spied upon by political police and branded as a "rabble" (marginal) and a drunk. Eventually, during a purge in the Ministry of Foreign Relations, he was forcibly retired in 1969, at age 55. Although taken aback by his forced retirement, he at the time laughed down the case against him: when it was made known that the Ministry purge was directed against "homosexuals and drunks", he jokingly retorted that his alcoholism was public knowledge. Afterwards, he proceeded to tackle a full-time artistic career.
In the 1970s, already established and with a new partner, the guitarist and singer Antonio Pecci Filho, nicknamed Toquinho, Vinicius worked in tandem on both musical and literary productions, putting forth various albums and books of great commercial success.
He also toured through Europe with Chico Buarque and Nara Leão, and Argentina with Dorival Caymmi and Oscar Castro-Neves. His most stable partner, however, remained Toquinho, alongside whom he would release a series of very popular and influential albums. Their live performances, both in Brazil and Europe, were often conducted as intimate meetings with the public, where Vinicius chatted and endlessly told amusing stories to the audience while repeatedly serving himself fine Scotch whisky, between actual song playing and singing.
Hundreds of international performers have recorded more than 400 of Vinicius' songs.
A long time alcoholic, who once said that "Whisky is man's best friend - a bottled-up dog" (O Uísque é o cachorro engarrafado), Vinicius de Moraes, after a long spell of poor health, punctuated by various sprees at rehab clinics , died at his home, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 9, 1980 at the age of 66, while in the company of both his last wife, Gilda de Queirós Mattoso, and of the ever-faithful Toquinho. He is buried in Rio de Janeiro's Cemitério São João Batista.