Amalia Rodrigues Songbooks (Fados por Amália Rodrigues)

(and Our Brief Meeting with Amalia Rodrigues)

Here are 2 songbooks with fados made famous by the great Amália Rodrigues. Each book contains the melody line written out in music notation, the chord names in Portuguese and the original words in Portuguese. These books are part of the Melodias De Sempre series published in Madeira, Portugal by Manuel Pereira Resende. See bottom of page for purchasing details for these book and for information on 4 other fado songbooks from Melodias de Sempre.

Amalia Rodrigues (1920-1999) was without a doubt the greatest fado singer of the 20th century. She toured extensively and brought Portuguese Fado to millions around the world. Amalia not only had a wonderful voice but she choose her material very carefully and worked with a number of fine composers and lyricists such as David Mourão-Ferreira, Jose Galhardo, Frederico Válerio, Silva Tavares, Alfredo Duarte (Marceneiro), Alberto Janes, Pedro Homen de Melo, and Alain Oulmen. She also wrote lyrics for such songs as Estranha Forma da Vida and the very popular Lágrima which she wrote with one of her Portuguese guitarists, Carlos Gonçalves.

Our Brief Meeting with Amalia Rodrigues by Ronald Fernández (since I have your attention I might as well tell you a personal story)

One January night in 1975 my wife, Jeanette, and I met Amalia at the Lisboa Antigua Restaurant on St. Laurent Blvd in Montreal after she had performed at the Place des Arts concert hall. Earlier that day the owner of fhe Lisboa Antigua, Juvenal Da Silva, told me that he was an old friend of Amalia from his days in Lisbon and that she would visit him that night after the big concert. That night my wife and I walked into the restaurant a bit before midnight and we were the only ones there except for a few Portuguese men standing and drinking at the bar. A few minutes later the two western saloon-style doors to the bar opened. It was Amalia in her fur stole followed her musicians.. I looked over at the men drinking at the bar, one of them did the classic double take. He caught a view of Amalia from the corner of his eye turned his head to look, turned his head back to look at his drink and then almost fell down as he turned his head back to see if his alcohol soaked brained was really seeing the legendary Amalia. We were introduced briefly to Amalia and her musicians. I did not know their names at the time nor their faces but I think they were Fontes Rocha (Portuguese guitar) Carlos Gonçalves (Portuguese guitar), Francisco Perez Andión (viola de fado, which is like a Spanish guitar with metal strings) and Joel Pina (Fado bass guitar). She and her musicians sat at a table next to us in the empty dining room where a local musician was playing. She appeared shy so I did not impose to speak with her but I chatted with her musicians. Interestingly, more than 20 years later I was fortunate to take a few personal lessons on the Portuguese guitarra with Carlos Gonçalves in Lisbon

In 1999 in October 6th, my wife and I arrived in Lisbon by plane the same morning as Amalia died. We were walking around the Rossio and we bought a newspaper with headlines of her death. For the next 3 days there was an official state of mouring. It was as if a Queen of Portugal had died. Throughout the city of Lisbon, Amalia's music was heard in the streets, in the subway, in front of stores. There were street banners with her photo all around the city. Her sister, Celeste Rodrigues' fado house, closed for the night. There was a photo adorned with flowers in the window of Valentim de Carvalho Music Store-- Carvalho had been the distributor of Amalia's records for decades. Her body laid in state for a few days in the Basilica on the hill. Her body was covered with flowers and little old women in black said their rosaries and wept. On the last day before her funeral mass, her coffin was covered with the Portuguese Flag.

On the night before the funeral we went to the Numero Um Restaurant with our friends Luis Penedo (President of the Academia da Guitarra Portuguesa e do Fado) and his wife Graça. At that time the Numero Um was a place where professional fado singers and musicians gathered one night a week to perform for each other. There were about 50 to 60 people there that night--a larger than normal crowd. Since we were with Luis, we had a good table to watch everything. As is customary in some Fado houses the performers did not remain on a stage but stood in the midst of the tables. This proximity to the performers intensifies the impact of the singing and music. Since it was the night before Amalia's funeral the place had a very special feel. Many of the people knew Amalia and all regarded her very highly as a great fado artist. It was the end of an era, the Queen of Fado was dead. That night we were treated to incredible performances by professionals such as Carlos Zel, Manuel Cardoso de Menezes, Manuela Cavaco and one of Amalia's guitarists, Jose Pracana. Midway through the evening (which went on to 3 am) there was a short break between singers and at that point Jose Pracana who was in a corner of the room began playing a solo on his guitarra. He started softly and played the song over and over getting a litle louder each time in this very quiet room. He was playing the melody to Fado Amalia-- the fado which was written for Amalia by the composer Frederico Valério and lyricist Jose Galhardo. That night was an incredible wake for the greatest fadista. It was a richly emotional night--at several points it seemed as if time stood still for everyone in the room. The next day, in our hotel room, we watched the funeral mass as it was televised from the Basilica da Estrela--the guests of honor were sitting in a special area. Many of those special guests of honor were the people who sang the night before at the Numero Um. After the mass Amalia's body was taken up the hill to Prazeres Cemetary (Cemtério dos Prazeres) followed by a large procession of people. The procession was televised live throughout Portugal as it was photographed from a helicopter. We, in our hotel room, and people all over Portugal were very moved by the whole experience.

In 2003 I was in contact with the lawyer of the Amalia Foundation. We arranged a meeting at Amalia's house at 193 Rua S.Bento in Lisbon which since her death had become a museum and the headquarters of the Amalia Rodrigues Foundation (a charitable organization set up by Amália). When we arrived we waited in the gift shop/entry room (which had originally been for horses and later a garage below the house. The room was full of elderly ladies who were there to visit the museum/mansion but I expect that they felt that they were paying homage to this shrine of Amalia, much like visiting the home of Saint Theresa. The receptionist phoned upstairs to notify Mr . Tesoro that we had arrived. Nelson Tesoro was Amalia's lawyer toward the end of her life and had become a member of the Amalia Foundation's Board of Directors. My wife and I were guided through the house which was full of memorabilia from Amalia's long career. There were life size oil portraits of her, replicas of her stage jewellry, international awards and even her ornate Portuguese guitarra, which she had been photographed with, was lying on the sofa. We were there to discuss a project about Amalia (which I have not completed) with Mr. Tesoro. We went into a little backroom office which had a computer in it, a desk and a sofa. We had a very interesting time with Senhor Tesoro (who I believe, like me, was born in Newark, New Jersey). He told us about his connections with Amalia toward the end of her life. At some point I asked where she had died and he said upstairs in her bedroom. Then, he said "I'll show you." He told me that when she was living he had not been upstairs because it was a private area. We climbed the stairs and stood in the doorway. The room was not large, maybe 20 feet square. In her bedroom, there was an 18th century commode of exotic wood, a policromated Portuguese oratory, her make-up dressing table, a painting over her bed and on a wall an 17th or 18th century oil painting of Our Lady and the Infant Jesus. There in the center of the room was the bed Amalia had died on. On one side of the bed standing up on a full body dress rack was a glamourous rainbow colored grown which she sometimes performed in and on the other side of the bed was a famous black dress she performed in. Jeanette and I stood for a moment at the foot of Amalia's bed with her stage dresses standing there. It was a near religious experience.

At the end of our meeting, Nelson Tesoro gave us a medallon of Amalia produced by Foundation which is displayed below.

Above: Front of medallion of Amália Rodrigues

Above: back of medallion from the Amalia Rodrigues Foundation (Fundação Amália Rodrigues)

Here are the Contents of "Fados por Amália Rodrigues", Book 39 of Melodias de Sempre

Perseguição, Ai Mouraia, O rapaz da camisola verde, Caldeirada, O Cochido, Canção do Mar, Que Deus me perdoe, Estanha forma de vida, Foi Deus, Maria da Cruz, Uma casa portuguesa, Valentim, Vou dar de beber á dor, Disse-te adeus e morri, Novo fado da Severa, Há festa na Mouraria, Tirana, Fadinho da Ti Maria Benta, Fado Amália

Here are the Contents of "Fados por Amália Rodrigues", Book 42 of Melodias de Sempre

Gaivota, Carmencita, Havemos de ir a Viana, Meu amor meu amor, Alfama, Fado Portugues, É ou nao é, Lá porque tens cinco pedras, Malmequer pequenino, Com que voz, Maldição, Ó careca, Abandono, Cuidei que tinha mrrido, É pecado, Espelho quebrado, Alamares, primavera, Caracois, Malhão de S. Simão

Below is part of a page showing the style of music notation used in these books.

NOTICE as of August 28, 2017. When we started to import and sell these books the internet was not well developed and these books were difficult to acquire. Since our supplier did not package these books very well we had  a lot of shipping damage. We have now sold out of these books and do not intend to import or sell any more. Luckily you can acquire them directly from retail music stores in Portugal. You can find Music stores in Lisbon by searching for "Lojas de Musica Melodias de Sempre".  The author for this series is Manuel Pereira Resende.

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Other Fado music books from Melodias de Sempre

For information on the content of these 4 other fado song book and how to order them, press here

Go to page about the book entitled Fado Portugues: Songs from the Soul of Portugal by Donald Cohen

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