Armando Tavares Belo
Born: November 11th, 1911, Faro (Portugal)
Died: 1993, Cascais (Portugal)
In 1964, Armando Tavares Belo (often credited simply as Tavares Belo) was the musical director of the very first Grande Prémio TV da Canção, the Portuguese Eurovision preliminaries. However, he did not travel to Copenhagen with the winner of that competition, António Calvário; the first Portuguese entry was simply conducted by the Danish home MD of that year, Kai Mortensen. In 1967, Tavares Belo again conducted all entries in the Grande Prémio, this time being allowed to accompany winner Eduardo Nascimento to the Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna. The song he conducted, ‘O vento mudou’, came 12th. As a composer, he submitted songs for the 1964 and 1966 Grande Prémio.
Armando Tavares Belo hails from the most southern region of Portugal, the Algarve, where he was born in Faro in 1911. Apart from an elementary piano course in his early youth, Tavares Belo was an autodidact who never went to conservatory. He possessed the gift to be able to reproduce on the piano any given melody that he had heard. At seventeen, he started working as a professional pianist in Café Montanha in Faro. In 1933, meanwhile having moved in Lisbon, he was incorporated in the so-called Orquestra Portugal. Five years later, together with Álvaro Silva, he founded a band of his own, the Orquestra Toseli, of which he was the conductor until 1946.
In that year, Tavares Belo was asked to become musical director of the national radio orchestra, the Orquestra de Variedades da Emissora Nácional, later renamed Orquestra Ligeira da Radiodifusão Portuguesa. In the 1950s and 1960s, he remained closely connected to the national broadcaster RTP as an arranger and conductor, accompanying countless radio and TV shows, such as the Olimpíadas da Canção, a popular music contest in which even Amália Rodrigues once participated. He was musical director of two Portuguese Eurovision preliminaries (see below). Moreover, he stood at the cradle of the Orquestra Swing, a very innovative ensemble at that time which specialized in jazz repertoire and was hugely successful in the 1950s.
Tavares Belo was one of Portugal’s most sought-after composers in the era 1940-1960. He wrote revue songs for Beatriz Costa, Laura Alves, and many others. Fados of his hand, often with lyrics by Silva Tavares or Aníbal Nazaré, were sung by Simone de Oliveira, Maria de Lurdes Resende, and Maximiano de Sousa. Moreover, he penned the soundtracks for two Henrique Campos movie pictures from 1953, ‘Rosa de Alfama’ and ‘Duas causas’. In classical music, he composed two concertos for piano and orchestra.
In December 1983, a tribute concert was held in honour of Tavares Belo in the São Luis theatre in Lisbon. He died in 1993 in a hospital in Cascais, near Lisbon.
Armando Tavares Belo in the Eurovision Song Contest
In 1964, Portugal participated in the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time. The RTP organized a televised show, Grande Prémio TV da Canção, to determine which song would represent the country in Copenhagen that year. Armando Tavares Belo was the musical director of this programme and, as such, he conducted all twelve entries, performed by six artists: António Calvário, Artur Garcia, Madalena Iglésias, Simone de Oliveira, Gina Maria, and Guilherme Kjölner. Tavares Belo himself – in collaboration with co-composer Jaime Filipe and lyricist Artur Ribeiro – had written one of the songs, the rather patriotic “Para cantar Portugal”, which was performed by António Calvário. In the end, one of the other efforts performed by Calvário, ‘Oração’, a melodious yet slightly inaccessible prayer put to music, was chosen as the winner. Tavares Belo, however, did not accompany Calvário to the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen. Instead, the Portuguese debut was conducted by the Danish musical director of the contest, Kai Mortensen. Calvário was not awarded a single point and came last, together with three other hapless artists.
In 1966, Tavares Belo composed his second and last entry for the Grande Prémio, again together with Jaime Filipe: ‘Caminhos perdidos’; interpreted by Madalena Iglésias, it came sixth among eight participating songs. One year later, in 1967, Tavares Belo was commissioned for the second time to be musical director of the Portuguese preliminaries. He conducted all twelve songs in competition, in which the participating artists were Rui Malhoa, Valério Silva, Duo Ouro Negro, Artur Garcia, Marco Paulo, Maria de Lurdes Resende, Eduardo Nascimento, and, once again, António Calvário. Tavares Belo is credited as co-arranger of the winning song, the up-tempo ‘O vento mudou’ by Eduardo Nascimento, alongside Joaquim Luís Gomes, although, in reality, he probably only conducted the orchestra during the studio recording. Subsequently, he made his only appearance in the Eurovision Song Contest finals, conducting ‘O vento mudou’ for Nascimento in Vienna’s Hofburg. Portugal came 12th (3 points) in a field of 17 countries.
Other artists on Armando Tavares Belo
Unfortunately, so far it has not been possible to gather memories of other artists on Armando Tavares Belo.
|Links & sources|
- A posthumous biography of Armando Tavares Belo, written by his niece Prof. Dr. Maria Armanda Tavares Belo: “Maestro Tavares Belo: dávida total à música” (Lisbon, 1995).
- Various Internet sites, amongst which most importantly www.macua.org and www.algarvepress.net.
- The best source on Portugal’s involvement in the Eurovision Song Contest, festivais.home.sapo.pt.
- Unfortunately, no website on Armando Tavares Belo exists.
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