Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Amongst cynical Brazilians, it is sometimes said that the problem with Brazil is that it has always been the country of the future. That future never felt closer in Brazil than in the 1950s: the economy was growing, democracy was finally thriving, and arts and culture were flourishing. This optimistic zeitgeist was epitomized in the construction of the ultra-modern capital of Brasilia. Designed by world renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer to look like an airplane, the metropolis was a sign to Brazilians and to the world that the country had officially entered modernity. This new, democratic image was an important departure for Brazil which was the last Western country to abolish slavery in 1888, and was under fascist rule until 1945. In this historical moment of elevated global capital, cultural and political forces worked in tandem in the Latin American country and across the globe to export an art that could have only come from Brazil. It was an art steeped equally in African and Western influences, nurtured in the hands of classically trained emerging middle class musicians, and honed in the nightclubs and little bars of Rio de Janeiro’s South Zone. This art was bossa nova.
The first paragraph of William Smith's senior thesis at UC Berkeley -- Longa é a Arte, Tão Breve a Vida: The Life and After-Life of Bossa Nova. Congratulations, William.