The importance of Anacleto de Medeiros, natural son of a freed slave, resides in him being one of the first composers of choro, when it wasn't yet a genre, but a style of playing, therefore contributing to its form. He wrote 90 pieces, besides those which were lost. There are 49 other ones listed in researchers' findings whose authorship is believed, with a great degree of certitude, to be his. He had the lyrics to some of his compositions written by the major poet Catulo da Paixão Cearense, who even wrote an ode praising him. One of these compositions written by Catulo was the xote "Iara," which, published in 1912 under the name "Rasga Coração," was later used by Heitor Villa-Lobos as the theme for his "Choros No. 10." The conductor and researcher Batista Siqueira alleges that Anacleto was the creator of the Brazilian xote (a genre descended from the European Schottisch).
As a child, Anacleto de Medeiros studied music with conductor Antônio dos Santos Bocot, and was apprentice of typography at the National Press, founding, with other working-class boys, the Guttenberg Musical Club. While he progressed in the profession of typographer, he also learned the piccolo and the saxophone in a band in Paquetá. In 1884, he matriculated from the Music Conservatory, which would become the National School of Music (Escola Nacional de Música). He was then pupil of clarinetist Antônio Luís de Moura, and classmate of Francisco Braga. He was certified as clarinet teacher in 1886. With other musicians of the Banda de Paquetá, he founded the Recreio Musical Paquetaense, writing several religious chants, masses, and a Te Deum, sung throughout several churches. In 1886, he composed the dobrado "Jubileu," for the International Exposition of Rio de Janeiro and was invited to direct the band of the Firemen Corporation (Banda do Corpo de Bombeiros). He was already perfectly playing all instruments of the band by then, with his favorite being the soprano sax. Prominent Brazilian composer Carlos Gomes was very fond of Anacleto's compositions and his band's intonation. With the Banda do Corpo de Bombeiros, he recorded several cylinders and records for the first recording label of Brazil, Casa Edison. In this label's first catalog, from 1902, are mentioned 55 records recorded by them, including Anacleto's compositions such as the valse "Despedida"; the polcas "Tatá," "Qui-Pro-Quo," "Cabeça de Porco," and "Urso"; the xotes "Benzinho," "Não Me Olhe Assim"; the quadrilha "Fluminense"; and the tango "Boêmios." Anacleto was also conductor of the Banda de Tecidos Bangu and Banda de Magé.