Jacob do Bandolim (1918-1969), BRAZIL

Jacob do Bandolim (1918-1969), BRAZIL

Jacob do Bandolim  is one of the first names in the history of the choro genre. A serious and dedicated musician, he instilled a high degree of professionalism in the traditionally relaxed music – even if he was never a professional himself (he made a living as a notary). He struggled to preserve Brazilian roots, and fought to impose his artistic sincerity on the music industry. He left important compositions that were incorporated in the repertory of choros.


Copied from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (see external links below):
Jacob do Bandolim born Jacob Pick Bittencourt (December 14, 1918 – August 13, 1969) was a Brazilian composer and musician. Born to a Brazilian-Jewish mother and a gentile father in Rio de Janeiro, his stage name means “Mandolin Jacob”, after the instrument he played.

A perfectionist, Jacob was able to achieve from his band Época de Ouro the highest levels of quality. Jacob hated the stereotype of the “dishevelled, drunk folk musician” and required commitment and impeccable dress from his musicians who, like himself, all held “day jobs.” Jacob worked as a pharmacist, insurance salesman, street vendor, and finally notary public, to support himself while also working “full time” as a musician.

In addition to his virtuoso playing, he is famous for his many choro compositions, more than 103 tunes, which range from the lyrical melodies of “Noites Cariocas” (“Carioca Nights”), Receita de Samba and “Dôce de Coco” to the aggressively jazzy “Assanhado”, which is reminiscent of bebop. He also researched and attempted to preserve the older choro tradition, as well as that of other Brazilian music styles.

He died of a heart attack, when coming back from spending the day with Pixinguinha, planning a recording project to benefit his friend. His son Sérgio Bittencourt (1941 – 1979) was also a musician and composed the hit song Naquela Mesa as a tribute to his father.

Jacob had 2 mandolins, which he called “number one” and “number two”. After his death they were kept in storage until 2002, when they received minor restoration. Now under the care of Instituto Jacob do Bandolim, they have been used in a few recordings again.

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About the Author:

I’m Chris, a mandolin lover from Greece, trained in Music, Mathematics and IT who makes a living on technology but enjoys life through music and arts. Welcome to my adventures!


  1. JP Thomas July 6, 2017 at 19:12

    While he didn’t support himself financially solely by playing his music, it think anyone who has had 22-year recording career and 20+ albums released by RCA Victor can safely be described as a professional musician.

    • Christos Rizos August 30, 2017 at 18:23

      His recordings are indeed great and I think he had a great sense of rhythm. I also agree, the fact that he made a living as a notary and not as a musician, does not make him less professional than others. This is true for many of us!

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