Radamés Gnattali is national and worldwide recognized as one of the greatest masters of Brazilian and Latin-American music. His concert work has consistent volume, about 300 pieces, among piano and guitar solos, as well as many chamber and symphonic music. As far as the popular music is concerned, he also shines with a singular position if compared to his contemporary colleagues. Not only for the volume of his production, but also for his intensive and collaborative presence and action towards the popular musicians, always working out with piano players, samba composers, singers and chorões in the daily toil at the radio stations and recording sets. Radamés has always realized and confessed how much he has learned from them.
(…) I have always worked with popular music and I like it very much. I believe it has given me that Brazilian touch that I was able to cultivate (…) “My music is actually Brazilian, based in folk and urban themes mainly from Rio de Janeiro”.
It explains why Radamés enjoyed writing to his friends and their instruments not set among the most well-known composers at the time. In his catalog of classic music there are concertinos, concertos, sonatas and sonatinas, amusements and suites for mandolin, accordion, cavaquinho, drums, electric guitar, seven string guitar, pandeiro. From those works a legendary bunch of talented composers and musicians have been put into light for the first time, on the stage of the Municipal Theater, such as Jacob do Bandolim, Edu da Gaita, Joel Nascimento, Chiquinho do Acordeom, Garoto, among others.
He may very well be considered as the founder of orchestral arrangements for popular music in Brazil, together with Pixinguinha, Radamés was a pioneer making sophisticated orchestration for the simple urban songs while preserving their identity. The percussionist and drum player Luciano Perrone, who has systemized the samba beats in the twenties, made an interesting comment about his dear friend’s aesthetic dichotomy:
“Radamés’ music is impenetrable. When he makes popular music, that is actually popular music, but when he makes concert music that is actually concert music. One does not interfere with the other. As an arranger and conductor he knows how to make a symphonic orchestra play a samba without taking its spirit off – and nothing there smells as a symphony”.