Antonio Carlos Jobim


Antonio Carlos (“Tom”) Jobim, best known for bossa nova mega-hits like “The Girl from Ipanema” and “Corcovado” (aka “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars”), composed a wealth of beautiful music before, during and after the bossa nova heyday of the 1960s. Noted jazz critic and historian Ted Gioia observed, “[Jobim’s] name is not out of place alongside those of Gershwin, Berlin, Rodgers and Porter in the pantheon of those who made art song out of pop tunes.”

This course (a slightly expanded version of the course offered a year ago) will explore the music and life of this “Brazilian George Gershwin,” beginning with his childhood and his years as a struggling nightclub pianist and fledgling composer. We will devote a fair amount of time to bossa nova — that is, after all, what launched Jobim to worldwide fame. What is bossa nova, anyway? We will talk about that — where it came from, what’s different about it, and what impact it has had — and in the process we will take a “virtual field trip” to Rio. Then We will follow the new directions his music and life took after the initial surge of bossa nova.

Along the way, we will meet many of Jobim’s collaborators — musicians and lyricists — and learn the back-stories to some of his works. We will listen to a lot of music, performed by Jobim himself and a wide variety of other artists, including both familiar songs and many that are probably
new to you. Of course we will hear what James Fallows of The Atlantic has termed “the Absolute Classic version” of “The Greatest Song Ever Recorded.” We will see the Banda Nova in action — the family band Tom Jobim formed to take his music around the world during the last decade of his life.

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