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Olga Praguer Coelho, Ambassador of Brazilian Folksong


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Olga Praguer Coelho, Brazilian folksong, Andrés Segovia, Rio de Janeiro


A novelty emerged in Rio de Janeiro’s cultural environment in the late 1920s, one that echoed all over the country’s main cities: young society ladies who dedicated themselves to the guitar and offered the public a repertoire of typical Brazilian songs.

One of these artists, Olga Praguer Coelho, had a very prominent international career, carrying out tours in several continents. In the 1940s, she began living with Andrés Segovia, before taking up residence in the United States, where her performances were always acclaimed both by specialized critics and by the cultural and political elite.

Coelho's increasingly international repertoire presented a choice of themes along the lines of folklore, songs from the oral tradition that she picked up and apprehended in a unique way. Her art was also known for the expertise with which she mastered voice and guitar in instrumental arrangements of great virtuosity.

Despite standing twenty years beside and under the shadow of Andrés Segovia, Coelho managed to build a priceless musical legacy, unfortunately unknown to the general public and recognized and respected only by experts. Coelho revealed to the world the multiple voices of Brazil and Latin America.


The material in this lecture was first presented during the Scholarly Track Day at the Guitar Foundation of America's International Convention on June 26, 2022 (online).

Marcia Taborda's research, teaching, and performance are inextricably linked, resulting in a profile that has helped consolidate her status as one of the preeminent guitar scholars in Brazil. She earned her PhD in social history and was recently received as a visiting fellow at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. As a researcher, she has been granted awards from the most important Brazilian institutions. She is author of the book O violão na corte imperial (The Guitar in Imperial [Rio de Janeiro]) (free download) and of the documentary The Guitar in the City of Rio de Janeiro (viewable on YouTube). She has also edited and recorded the guitar works of acclaimed composer Paulinho da Viola. She is coordinator of the guitar studies group and a tenured professor at the School of Music of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), where she works in the undergraduate and graduate programs.