May 22, 2014

Jobim and Chopin: Frevo de Orfeu

Here's an interesting correspondence:

First, listen to Chopin's famous "Marche funebre" from Sonata No. 2 in Bb minor, Op. 35. Here's Rachmaninoff playing it for you. Check the second section, in Db major, starting at 2:00, to about 4:00:

Now check out Jobim's "Frevo de Orfeu," from the movie "Black Orpheus." The first video below is a newer concert version. The music starts at 2:30, after the interview. You have to imagine it slowed way down, played on piano.

Below is the original setting from the film, with a cool marching band. The frevo is at 2:50:

Jobim liked Chopin. Perhaps you already knew that "How Insensitive" is based partly on Chopin's Prelude No. 4 in E minor (see this post).

I'm imagining a discussion about the music Jobim was going to write for the movie. He's joking around, and considering that the Eurydice character is stalked by Death, and doomed, he says, "I've got it..." and plays the funeral march. Later on when he actually writes the tunes for the score, he completes the joke, in a more subtle way.

Is this a stretch? You be the judge!

Update: Check comments!


  1. Peter, did you know Joaquim Calado (1848-1880), credited for composing the first written Choro "A Flor Amorosa" apparently also based its bridge on the same section of Chopin's Marche Funebre ? Check out starting at 2:14. What do you think?

  2. Hmm...I hear a slight resemblance...Jobim's frevo is more obvious, I think. But from what you are saying, I guess the Calado resemblance is something that others have noted. Perhaps Jobim was referencing that one, too!

  3. I read this on a couple Choro blogs, including one that references a quote to this parallel from a book: .
    Back to the your posting, I find your story about Black Orpheus very plausible and fascinating. Jobim 'hiding' a less known section of the marche funebre behind this Frevo, a street dancing, happy musical style. How clever.