His Life In a Nutshell
Marcus Vinitius da Cruz e Mello Moraes, a Brazilian diplomat, journalist, poet and composer, also known as Vinicius de Moraes, was born in October 19, 1913
In 1929, Vinicius graduated from college with a degree in Languages, and in the following year he went to Law school. In 1931 he joined the Brazilian Army, getting special training until 1933, the year he graduated from Law school. In the same year he published his first book ‘O Caminho Para A Distância’. His second book, ‘Forma e Exegese’, a poetry book, published in 1935, was awarded a Felipe d’Oliveira award. In the following year, after publishing a poem named ‘Ariana, a mulher’, he befriended Manuel Bandeira and Carlos Drummond de Andrade, two important Brazilian poets.
In 1938, Vinicius headed to England, with an English government scholarship to study literature at Oxford University. He got married by proxy to Beatriz Azevedo de Mello and returned to Brazil with the development of World War I.
Having joined Brazil’s diplomatic service in 1943, in 1946 he was sent to Los Angeles in his first diplomatic assignment as a vice-consul, returning to Brazil in 1950 due to his father’s death. His first samba, Quando Tu Passares Por Mim, is from 1953, a year in which he moved to France as Brazil’s embassy second secretary.
His play, Orfeu da Conceição, won the IV São Paulo Centennial Contest in 1954. It was then turned into a movie by French director Marcel Camus, in 1959, winning at Cannes Film Festival and awarded an Oscar for best foreign movie. In this movie he first started working with Antônio Carlos Jobim, also known as Tom Jobim. This partnership, including João Gilberto, would later start a renovation movement in Brazilian popular music, known as Bossa Nova.
In August 1962, he performed in his first concerned, alongside Tom Jobim and João Gilberto, in the night club “Au Bon Gourmet”, which set in motion a series of ‘pocket-shows’, where he released great international successes such as, Garota de Ipanema and Samba da Benção.
In 1969, he retired from public services in Itamaraty and started working with Toquinho. Confirming rumors that he was been persecuted by the Brazilian government, Vinicius traveled through Europe in 1975.
Returning from Europe, in 1979, he had a stroke on the plane. In April 17, 1980, he went through brain surgery. Vinicius de Moraes died in July 9, 1980, in his home, in the company of Toquinho and his last wife.
Looking for a friend
Vinícius had great friends all through his life, but none as great as Toquinho. His most stable partner, alongside whom he released a series of very popular and influential albums; and in whose company he died at the age of 66.
“One needs a friend who says it’s good to live, not because life is beautiful but because he has a friend. One needs a friend to stop crying. In order not to live leaning on the past in search of lost memories. Who slaps us on the shoulder smiling or crying, but who calls us friend in order to have the consciousness of what we are still living”
Sonnet of Fidelity
Above all, to my love I’ll be attentive
First and always, with care and so much
That even when facing the greatest enchantment
By love be more enchanted my thoughts.
I want to live it through in each vain moment
And in its honor I’ll spread my song
And laugh my laughter and cry my tears
When you are sad or when you are content.
And thus, when later comes looking for me
Who knows, the death, anxiety of the living,
Who knows, the loneliness, end of all lovers
I’ll be able to say to myself of the love (I had):
Be not immortal, since it is flame
But be infinite while it lasts.
His biographers claim Vinicius was married, officially, to nine different women. This inconstancy in his love life caused his friend Tom Jobim to ask him: ‘By the way, poet, how many times are you going to get married?’; ‘As many times as necessary’, Vinicius replied.
This is, most likely, the most beautiful and accurate sonnet about love I have ever read.