An overview of Brazilian culture, from its colonization to nowadays. The Brazilian population today comes from four ethnic groups: the indigenous Indians, the colonizing Portuguese, the African Negroes, and a number of immigrant European and Oriental groups that have come to Brazil since the 1850’s. The most important of these cultures is that of the Portuguese, from whom the Brazilians acquired their language, their religion and most of their traditional customs.
The indian contribution to Brazilian culture is perhaps most apparent in the Amazon Basin. Evident in northern coastal regions are religious cults of African origin. African influence is also reflected in Brazilian popular music, especially in the rhythmic samba. Brazil is a country that adapts readily to rapid changes and new opportunities.
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Brazilianness in Arts
The attempt upon to impart “Brazilianness” to the arts succeds in the hands of creative geniuses: the composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (a powerful force in breaking with tradition to create distinctively Brazilian compositions by weaving into his music folk themes and rhythms), the painter Candido Portinari (influential in developing a uniquely Brazilian style, blending the abstract techniques of Europe with the real people and landscapes). In the same way, the novelist Joao Guimaraes Rosa (always using regional and traditional themes though treated in very experimental and personal linguistic style), the architect Oscar Niemeyer (the creator, in collaboration with Lucio Costa, of the capital’s original layout), and the cinema director Glauber Rocha, who have handled Brazilian themes with a distinctly Brazilian attitude.Brazilian cultural life has been influenced by a series of intellectual movements since independence.
Some have aimed at a cultural renewal or modernization; others at a return to national traditions. A complex and vigorous group of poets novelists, short-story writers, literary critics and essayists are imparting to Brazilian literature an authenticity not so much of theme as of attitude. Here is a result of prenational and national development of Brazilian culture with its characteristic combination of cosmopolitanism and tropicalism.
It embodies a tendency continuous from colonial days toward a genuine ethnic democracy – not imcompatible with an equally persistent tendency toward aristocracy of family, manners and spirit. Brazil’s greatest novelist and short-story writer, Joaquim Maria Machado de ssis (1839-1908), was socially a plebeian but an aristocrat in spirit and literary form, though not a pedant.A tipically romantic movement of the 19th century was Indianism, which emphasized Amerindian themes in art, music and literature. It produced a sociologically important type of novel (as exemplified in the work of Jose Martiniano de Alencar), of poetry (Antonio Goncalves Dias), and music (Carlos Gomes, whose opera ‘O Guarani’ is based on Alencar’s novel about a noble Guarani indian).
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Another tendency in popular music is the protest song, with political and social implications. Architecture: The landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx has made urban Brazilians especially aware of the splendours of their natural environment by replacing the traditional formal European-style with profusions of native species in close association of their natural settings. Some of Marx’s landscapes have been used to set off the imaginative structures of Brazil’s world-renowed architect Oscar Niemeyer.
Brazil also cherishes numerous splendid structures from its colonial and imperial past from the tiled houses and ornate churches of Salvador to the palaces and public buildings of Rio de Janeiro. Among the most revered of these are the 18th-century churches in Minas Gerais that were adorned by facades, biblical scenes, and statues carved in soapstone by Antonio Francisco Lisboa, better known as Aleijadinho.