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Luperce Miranda - Brazil's Paganini of the Mandolin - Part 3

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Oi pessoal, Tudo bem? ("Hi guys, how are you?")

Here I am again to share more of the beautiful journey of Luperce Miranda, the most virtuosic Brazilian mandolinist of all. As I do a bit of reading from his biography, every single window of our motorhome is a vibrant blue. We are leaving Florida Keys, heading in the direction of Burton, Texas. The ocean never disappoints, it is an inspiring view. I can't avoid imagining Luperce sharing this view of the Atlantic Ocean while in Rio de Janeiro and Recife back in his days. We stare at the same ocean, separated by an ocean of time.

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In my previous articles about Luperce Miranda, I told how his arrival in Rio de Janeiro was a great success. Everything seemed to be in his favor. Other musicians showered him with admiration, and the sudden popularity of the northeastern culture and music in the south of Brazil was a huge advantage.

Luperce recorded thirty-two pieces with the ensemble "Voz do Sertão." Of these, twenty-two pieces featured lead mandolin, with accompaniment from his ensemble. He accompanied the best singers of his time on radio and on recordings. After the "Voz do Sertão" group was dissolved, Luperce organized an ensemble called "Regional de Luperce Miranda." They worked at the "Radio Clube do Brasil." He recorded with Almirante, Francisco Alves, Mario Reis, Bando de Tangarás, and many more.

There's a samba (or batuque), which I personally L-O-V-E, called "No Tabuleiro da Baiana". It was composed by the great Ary Barroso in 1936. He also composed "Aquarela do Brasil." This song was famously recorded by Carmen Miranda (no relation to Luprece Miranda!) and Luiz Barbosa. They were accompanied by "Regional de Luperce Miranda" who also composed the introduction to the song! This recording was a hit and is still played to this day. It was recorded numerous times. João Gilberto, Gal Costa e João Bosco are some of the other artists who have recorded a later version of this same song.

For the curious ones, shortly the song talks about what is on the Bahiana's tray. The male voice, Luiz Barbosa asks to the Bahiana, interpreted by Carmen "what' on her tray?" Vatapá, Caruru, Mungunzá, Umbú - all traditional dishes from Bahia. Next, he asks if she would give her heart to him. She replies "yes, but later what happens to the two of us? Your love is too fleeting and deceitful." So I guess it is a polite no. Hahaha.


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ID:	211994A "Baiana" (fem.) or "Baiano" (mas.) is someone born in the state of Bahia. The song refers to a dress and outfit associated with dark-skinned Bahia women. The outfit consists of a long, full white skirt, lace smock, turban, coastal cloth, flip-flops, necklaces, earrings and many baubles. They would be depicted as carrying a tray with Bahia traditional recipes for sale.

So why did Carmen Miranda dress like she did with fruit on her head? She dressed up as a Baiana to film the video below. This is the only fragment left from the Brazilian film "Banana da Terra" (1939). It was the first time Carmen Miranda appeared wearing a Baiana outfit in a movie- but Americans hadn't "discovered" her yet. Because she was so distinctly recognized in this costume, she kept it for the rest of her career.

Carmen Miranda's birthday is February 9, this Friday!

The song is "o que é que a Baiana tem?’" (what does the Baiana have on her tray?) by Dorival Caymmi. The song talks about what she carries, what she wears, and always ends the verse saying "and has 'charm' like nobody else."


In 1932, Carmen Miranda, Francisco Alves, Mario Reis, Arthur Nascimento, (Tute, the inventor of the 7th string guitar) and dancers Célia Benzaquem and Nestor Figueiredo travelled with Luperce to his first international trip. They all went to Argentina. It was a blast!

In Buenos Aires, after an amazing performance by Luperce, the conductor Carranza went up on stage and declared him to be the greatest mandolinist in the world. At the Radio El Mundo, he was carried off on the shoulders of the musicians from the orchestra Francisco Canaro. The program for the concerts didn't allow encores, but when Luperce performed, even their manager would ask for him to repeat, because the audience could not be satisfied without one.

"Última Estrofe," composed by Cândido das Neves (Indio). Recording from 1935 sang by the great Orlando Silva. My favorite singer. Pereira Filho and Luis Bittencourt on the guitars. Luperce Miranda on the mandolin. Pay attention specially at the 2:21 minute mark where he plays some insanely fast runs.

Luperce earned all of his income as a musician. He played everywhere: at theaters, parties, and dances (playing the piano!). He would also play cavaquinho, violão, violino, guitarra portuguesa (tuned as a guitar), and basically any other string or plucked instrument that was needed for a concert, event, or recording session.

Luperce's life in Rio de Janeiro was not all easy. Even though he was very successful for a musician, he had to hustle to get as many gigs as possible. By 1934 he already had seven children! All the musicians who knew him agreed on the same thing. Luperce had no vices. He did not smoke. He did not drink. He was always in a very good mood. Therefore, as we say in Brazil, he was not a "boêmio."

Boêmio is a night owl; someone who loves going to bars with music, and walks around playing serenades. Most of the time the music would be samba, choro, seresta or bossa nova - it can be accompanied by alcohol and a cigar but not necessarily. Boêmios especially love to be awake on the "madrugada" - the time after midnight until before the sun rises.

So- Luperce was not a boêmio. But he had a problem with women! This really complicated his life! He was a man of many passions and one lasting love. Now that you know what boêmio means, you can understand the verses of the homonym samba by Ataulfo Alves and J. Pereira.

Boêmio, oh sultan
why do you want
to love so many women
If you have only one heart?

When he was in Rio de Janeiro with his first wife Maria José, he fell in love with a woman named Floripes. He had children with both women. One day his wife Maria found out about Floripes and she left Luprece for another man.

Luperce's was wounded by this, and he took all of the children away to live with him. This was very unusual in the context of the time. Somehow he was able to raise all of his children well. Rhey grew up loving and admiring him! So much so, that they were a great help and source of information for his biography. Most of his children learned how to play musical instruments, too. I watched and read stories told by some of his children. One of them said he was an exemplary father. They talked about how caring he was, and how he taught music to everyone.

The truth was that caring for his large family was taking its toll on him. One day he was caught by a friend. He was crying on a bridge and acting like he was planning to jump off to end his own life.

Floripes passed away early in 1937. Sometime later, he got together with a woman named Luiza. They had more two children. Luiza had three children from a previous marriage who came along to Luperce's house. He had 12 children to feed with his mandolin!

Luperce would to travel to Recife every now and then. He would stay with the daughter of his older brother Romualdo, and his niece Estael. Tezinha, as she was called, used to write him regularly, keeping him informed about Romualdo, who had an even more complicated life than Luperce.

One day Luperce came to Recife and Estael fell in love with him. Soon they started to date. Less than a year later, they were married!

Remarkable musicians and artists who were close to Luperce would tell how Estael "tamed the stallion." It sounds weird honestly, but since we are not here to judge - (only sometimes) - she was the love of his life.

Estael added even more children to the family. This was the primary reason that the virtuoso mandolinist moved back to Recife and why he faced hard times in the Copacabana city.

Luperce composed a piece for his most special woman: The waltz "Tezinha," recorded in 1955. I really like to play music in this style which Luperce called "Valsa Concerto." Besides the beauty of the pieces, usually they have strong and melodic themes. As the performer, you can find yourself strolling through slow sentimental passages, then leaping into extremely fast and challenging sections. There is an unusual freedom to explore tempo, dynamics and emotions. It's a musical amusement park for interpretation! I don't think I know anything else that compares.

I hope you enjoyed learning little bit more about this outstanding mandolinist. I can't wait to travel back in time again to share with you the next happenings in the Brazilian Paganini's life.

Um abraço,
Elisa Meyer Ferreira

“Mamãe eu quero” by Jararaca and Vicente Paiva by Choro das 3 to get in the Carnaval vibe!

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Updated Feb-07-2024 at 10:45am by Mandolin Cafe



  1. Glassweb's Avatar
    Thank-you Elisa!
  2. James Vwaal's Avatar
    Enjoyed the history lesson! Thanks.
  3. DougC's Avatar
    What a silly video!
    “Mamãe eu quero” is very charming. Thank you for the fun and the history lesson. I hope to see you at a concert some day.
  4. Nick Royal's Avatar
    Another look at Choro das Tres!
  5. desertnight's Avatar
  6. Alfons's Avatar
    Elisa, thank you - Your essays are so captivating! I can never start one without finishing it. The stories and the videos are great, and your enthusiasm for the subjects always shines through. And of course, Choro das 3 videos are always a ton of fun. Glad you included one for us.
  7. BillWilliams's Avatar
    Que historia maravilhosa - obrigado Elisa.
  8. ElisaBandolim's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Glassweb
    Thank-you Elisa!
    My pleasure. :D I’m happy to do this.
  9. ElisaBandolim's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by James Vwaal
    Enjoyed the history lesson! Thanks.
    I’m glad you liked it! Thanks for letting me know
  10. ElisaBandolim's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by DougC
    What a silly video!
    “Mamãe eu quero” is very charming. Thank you for the fun and the history lesson. I hope to see you at a concert some day.
    Indee."Mamãe eu quero" is a famous carnival march which are always very satirical. I personally love them. Thanks for reading and I’m glad to know you enjoyed it
  11. ElisaBandolim's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Royal
    Another look at Choro das Tres!
    Hehehe yes :D and This Monday at 6pm central time is gonna be our Carnaval broadcast on YouTube. We’ll play songs like "Mamae eu quero" since the very first Brazilian Carnaval song composed in 1899, by Chiquinha Gonzaga to the ones I composed yesterday :D
  12. ElisaBandolim's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by desertnight
  13. ElisaBandolim's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by BillWilliams
    Que historia maravilhosa - obrigado Elisa.
    Com certeza é. Fiquei emocionada várias vezes lendo as histórias e ouvindo as gravações do Luperce. Fico feliz que tenha gostado também.
  14. ElisaBandolim's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Alfons
    Elisa, thank you - Your essays are so captivating! I can never start one without finishing it. The stories and the videos are great, and your enthusiasm for the subjects always shines through. And of course, Choro das 3 videos are always a ton of fun. Glad you included one for us.
    Thank you so much! I hope you could enjoy reading as much as I did writing it. I was already a fan of Luperce, but definitely after this serie I’m fascinated by his music and life history. I hope other people can admire him more now too. Obrigada 🙏
  15. Chris Fannin's Avatar
    Is it possible to post a schedule of your gigs in the US?