Brazil: Its culture

Contents of This Page

Books to Read
The Music of Brazil
The Cinema of Brazil


Books to Read:
History, Literary Criticism, 
Fiction, Poetry




  • The Brazilians, by Joseph Page (1996)
  • Little Brazil: An Ethnograpy of 
  • Brazilian Immigrants in New York City, by Maxine Margolis (Princeton University Press, 1993)
  • Brazil: Five Centuries of Change, by Thomas E. Skidmore (1999)
  • A Concise History of Brazil, Cambridge Concise Histories (1999)
  • The Brazil Reader: History, Culture, Politics, edited by Robert M. Levine & John J. Crocitti (1999)
  • Brazil Built: The Architecture of the Modern Movement in Brazil, by Zilah Quezado Deckker (2000)
  • Insight Guides: Brazil (APA Publications)
  • Lonely Planet Brazil, by Nick Selvy, Andrew Draffen
  • Rough Guide Brazil, by D. Cleary, D. Jenkins, O. Marshall, J. Hine


  • Brazilian Fiction: Aspects and Evolution of Contemporary Narrative, by Robert E. DiAntonio [The University of Arkansas Press, 1989]
  • The Muffled Cries: The Writer and Literature in Authoritarian Brazil: 1964-1985, by Nancy T. Baden [University of America Press, 1999]
  • Third World Literary Fortunes: Brazilian Culture and Its International Reception, by Piers Armstrong [Bucknell University Press, 1999]
  • Jewish Voices in Brazilian Literature, by Nelson H. Vieira [University Press of Florida, 1996]




Machado de Assis

Considered one of the greatest writers of the Portuguese language. 
Click Who Was Machado de Assis?
to find out about this major fiction writer.

    • Dom Casmurro
    • Epitaph for a Small Winner
    • The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas: A Novel

Jorge Amado
  • Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
  • Tent of Miracles
  • Showdown
  • Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon
Moacyr Scliar

  • Max and the Cats
  • The Collected Stories
  •  The Strange Nation of Rafael Mendes
  • The Gods of Raquel
  • The One-Man Army
  • The Volunteers
  • The Carnival of the Animals

 Clarice Lispector
  • The Hour of the Star
  • The Passion According to G.H.
  • Soulstorm: Stories
  • Family Ties



Milton Hatoum


Rubem Fonseca

  • Vast Emotions & Imperfect Thoughts
  •  High Art
  • Bufo & Spallanzani

  Nélida Pinon
  • The Republic of Dreams
  • Caetana's Sweet Song


  • A Hammock Beneath the Mangoes: Short Stories from Latin America, edited by Thomas Colchie
  • Other Fires: Short Fiction by Latin American Women, edited by Alberto Manguel
  • Tropical Synagogues,  edited by Ilan Stavans



Carlos Drummond de Andrade
  • Travelling in the Family

An Anthology 
  • Twentieth-Century Brazilian Poetry, translated by Elizabeth Bishop


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 The Music of Brazil

You are listening to Villa Lobos


You are listening to Cantilena, the well-known aria from Bachianas Brasileiras # 5, by Heitor Villa Lobos. Many of the world's greatest sopranos have sung and recorded this exquisitely beautiful aria -- among them the Brazilian Bidu Sayão, Victoria de Los Angeles, Arleen Auger, Barbara Hendricks, Kathleen Battle, Kiri Te Kanawa, Renée Fleming.

Though pleasant to listen to, this sound clip that you now hear doesn't do justice to the melodic and lyrical beauty of this cantilena. For guitar lovers, I recommend the following CDs, which contain two  of my favorite versions of Bachianas Brasileiras # 5:

  • Duets with the Spanish Guitar,  with the great Brazilian guitarist Laurindo de Almeida and mezzo-soprano Salli Terri
  • Pleasures of their Company, with guitarist Christopher Parkening and soprano Kathleen Battle 



Devotees of Brazilian Music:

Check out this newsgroup:

& also this website

Musica Brasiliensis

"A Brazilian Folly" by
Daniella Thompson,
 essays, disc reviews, interviews


      Some of Brazil's best known interpreters of popular music:
Caetano Veloso, Milton Nascimento, Chico Buarque, Gilberto Gil, Marisa Montes, Maria Bethania, Fafá de Belém, Ney Matogrosso, Ellis Regina, Simone, Emilio Santiago, Elizete Cardoso, Gal Costa, Adriana Calcanhoto, Daniela Mercury, 
Monica Salmaso, Olívia Hime, Miúcha


          Some great composers of Brazilian Popular Music whose songs have become classics:  

Click here  to learn about Brazilian Popular Music, its historical background, its many genres (e.g., frevo, baião, choro, forró,  samba, maracatu).  This is an excellent site devoted to the popular culture, music and folklore of Brazil -- well-written, highly informative, with sound clips of Brazilian music. A must to anyone who wants to discover and explore the vibrant Brazilian popular music.


Classical Music

Heitor Villa- Lobos (1887-1959), Brazil's greatest composer, applied classical forms and techniques to Afro-Brazilian themes. His works include a set of nine Bachianas Brasileiras, the symphonic poems UirapuruAmazonas, Dawn in a Tropical Forest, and numerous cello &  guitar concertos, chamber works, etc.



 Brazil's great opera singer Bidu Sayão (1902-1999), an internationally acclaimed soprano, sang at the world's great opera houses, among them, La Scala in Milan, and for 16 seasons at the New York Metropolitan Opera, where she sang more than 200 performances of 12 different roles. For a taste of classical Brazilian music, listen to her sing  Folk Songs of Brazil, arranged by composer Ernani Braga (1898-1948), and Villa Lobos' exquisitely beautiful aria of Bachianas Brasileiras # 5  (Sony CD, Masterworks Heritage Series: Bidu Sayão).



And to learn more about Brazilian music: 



  • Brazilian Popular Music and Globalization, by Charles a. Perrone (University Press of Florida, 2001)
  • The Brazilian Sound, by Chris McGowan (Temple University Press, updated edition, 1998)

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 Movies to See


  • City of God (2001), director Fernando Meirelles 
  • Behind the Sun (2001), director Walter Salles
  • Central Station (1999), director Walter Salles
  • O Quatrilho(1996), director Fabio Barreto
  • Four Days in September (1997), director Bruno Barreto
  • Foreign Land (1996), director Walter Salles
  • Tieta do Agreste (1996), director Carlos Diegues
  • Tent of Miracles (1997), director Nelson Pereira dos Santos
  • The Third Bank of the River (1994), director Nelson Pereira dos Santos
  • The Hour of the Star (1985), director Suzana Amaral
  • Gabriela (1985), director Bruno Barreto
  • Pixote (1981), director Hector Babenco
  • Bye Bye, Brazil (1979), director Carlos Diegues
  • Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (1976), director Joaquim Pedro de Andrade
  • How Tasty Was my Little Frenchman (1971), director Nelson Pereira dos Santos
  • Black Devil, White God (1965), director Glauber Rocha
  • The Given World (1962), director Anselmo Duarte
  • Black Orpheus (1959), director Marcel Camus


Websites & Books


  • Brazil's Masters of Cinema Novo
  • A Retrospective of Brazilian Cinema
  • Best of the Century
  • Coming Soon to a Theater Near You
  • Cinema Novo and Beyond 
  • Brazil '66 to '99: Taking a Tour of Cinema Novo and Beyond  
  • The New Cinema Meets Cinema Novo: New Trends in Brazilian Cinema 
  •   Books
  • Allegories of Underdevelopment: Aesthetics and Politics in Modern Brazilian Cinema, by Ismail Xavier [University of Minnesota Press, 1997]
  • Brazilian Cinema, by Randal Johnson, Robert Stam, editors [University of Columbia Press, 1995]
  • Gender and Society in Brazilian Cinema, by David William Foster [University of Texas Press, 2000]


     © 2004  E.F. Giacomelli
    Updated April  2004