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Frederico de Brito

(N. 15 September, 1894 - M. 24 March, 1977)

Emblematic figure, Frederico de Brito, or Britinho, - as he was better known - asserts himself as a poet and composer of some of the most interpreted themes in the fadista universe, author of poems and songs that reflect a rare and peculiar artistic beauty.

Joaquim Frederico de Brito was born in the parish of Carnaxide, Oeiras, in 1894. He was only eight years old when he read the book “Lira de Fado” by Avelino de Sousa, feeling so inspired that, since then, he started to make verses for his older brother, João de Brito, to sing at amateur parties. At that time he lived in the neighborhood of Alcântara and his youth caused doubts in the authorship of poetry, which later dissipated when he started to interpret the verses, as an improviser.

In an interview with João Linhares Barbosa for the newspaper “Guitarra de Portugal” of July 31, 1923, Frederico de Brito tells how he started “working on the suddenness of the verse”, a decade ago in Ajuda: “After many interpretations, where Manuel Maria showed his worth, (…). I, my dear Barbosa, felt it inside… you know what? I tell you ... envy, which in this case is holy. This was the clarion call, (…). From then on I made myself as you know: improviser”.

In this way, he convinced the most skeptics of his creative potential and “started his long career as a popular poet, who until about 30 years old accumulated with that of a singer, participating in various public performances, as happened with the operetta “História do Fado”, in which he acted as an attraction by singing his verses.” (Sucena: 283).

Frederico de Brito was a plasterer, taxi driver and later worked at Companhia de Petróleos Atlantic (later BP), but he always kept his poet activity, writing “anywhere and when I need to do it: at home, on the street , in the café, in the office and even in the electric car...”(cf.“ Guitarra de Portugal ”, June 30, 1945, p. 4).

In 1930 Frederico de Brito published the book “Musa ao Volante: quadras”, with a preface by Albino Forjaz de Sampaio and two years later, in 1932, “Terra Brava: versos”, this time with a preface letter by Teixeira de Pascoaes.

In the early 1930s, Joaquim Frederico de Brito is among the most sought after fado authors, alongside other great popular fado poets, such as Henrique Rego, João da Mata, Linhares Barbosa, Francisco Radamanto, Carlos Conde, Gabriel de Oliveira or Armando Neves (Nery: 210).

At the same time Frederico de Brito has an active collaboration with one of the most important fadista-themed newspapers, “Guitarra de Portugal” and, on February 1, 1941, he appears as director and editor of the newspaper “O Galarim”.

As of 1934, Frederico de Brito also became the author of marches for the neighborhoods of Lisbon. Many of his creations ended up becoming classics of the presentations, as is the case, for example, of the theme “É raparigas”, with music by Raul Ferrão, which the Benfica March presented for the first time in the 1934 parade; or “Marcha de Marvila de 1963”, with music by Alves Coelho Filho, later performed over the following decades.

His extensive production of poems for popular marches lasted between 1934 and 1969, collaborating with the neighborhoods of Ajuda, Alcântara, Alfama, Alto do Pina, Bairro Alto, Benfica, Bica, Campo de Ourique, Campolide, Castelo , Chelas, Graça, Madragoa, Marvila, Mouraria, Olivais, Santa Catarina and São Vicente.

He also left his mark in theaters, making his debut with the play “Anima-te Zé”, presented in 1935 on the stage of the Teatro Maria Vitória. Partnerships succeed in writing several plays, of which we highlight: “Chuva de Mulheres”, presented in 1937 at Teatro Éden, where Frederico de Brito wrote the texts with V. de Matos Sequeira, A. Amaral and L. Lauer, for the songs of C. Calderón and F. Valério (in this play Hermínia Silva interprets the famous theme “Soldado do Fado”, with lyrics by Frederico de Brito and music by Frederico Valério); and “Sol e Dó”, performed at the Teatro Variedades, in 1943, with texts by Frederico de Brito, C. Alberto, Ascensão Barbosa, A. Nazaré and A. Cruz, and songs by F. de Carvalho. (cf. Rebello: 88; Sucena: 286).

Still in this context, Frederico de Brito, in partnership with José Galhardo and Carlos Lopes, was the author of the texts for the play “Haja Saúde”, which inaugurated the stage of Teatro ABC, in Parque Mayer, in January 1956.

Over the course of several decades of intense creative production, it is believed that “by the end of his long life he had written more than a thousand lyrics and several hundred songs.” (Guinot, Carvalho and Osório: 318). But from this immense universe, his musical and poetic creations for fado stand out, which we remember the unforgettable “Fado do Britinho”, “Fado da Azenha”, “Fado dos Sonhos”, “Biografia do Fado”, “Janela Virada para o Mar”,“Não digam ao fado…”,“ Canoas do Tejo ” or “Carmencita”. His fados were created and recorded by equally renowned voices such as Carlos Ramos, Tristão da Silva, Amália Rodrigues, Beatriz da Conceição, Carlos do Carmo, Fernanda Maria or Lucília do Carmo.

Joaquim Frederico de Brito passed away at the age of 85, leaving a great legacy of artistic creativity, which is constantly remembered, both by listening to the original interpreters and creators of his poetry and music, and by the constant tributes shown in the interpretation of his themes, constantly revisited by the younger generations of fado.



“Guitarra de Portugal”, 31 de Julho de 1923;

“Guitarra de Portugal”, 7 de Junho de 1934;

“Guitarra de Portugal”, 30 de Junho de 1945;

Guinot, M., Carvalho, R., Osório, José Manuel (1999), “Histórias do Fado”, Col. “Um Século de Fado”, Lisboa, Ediclube;

Nery, Rui Vieira (2004), “Para uma História do Fado”, Lisboa, Público/Corda Seca;

Rebello, Luiz Francisco (1984), “História do Teatro de Revista em Portugal”, Vol. 2, Lisboa, Dom Quixote;

Sucena, Eduardo (1992), “Lisboa, o Fado e os Fadistas”, Lisboa, Vega.

  • Canoas do Tejo Carlos do Carmo (Frederico de Brito)