Newton Mendonça wrote, together with Antônio Carlos Jobim, several immortal classics of bossa nova, such as "Desafinado" (1958), "Meditação" (1960), "Samba de Uma Nota Só" (1960), "Caminhos Cruzados," (1958) and "Foi a Noite" (1956). His body of work, though small, is immensely expressive and he can be considered one of the initiators of the bossa nova movement. Nevertheless, he still remains a very obscure figure, compared to other composers of the movement. In 1950, he started as a professional pianist with the Orquestra de Waldemar. In 1952, he signed with the nightclub Posto Cinco (playing in turns with Jobim), the first of several famous nightclubs of Rio de Janeiro he played in, such as the French Can Can, Ma Griffe, Dominó, Mocambo, Mandarim, Casca, La Bohème, and others. In 1952, he also had his first recorded song, "Você Morreu Pra Mim" (with Fernando Lobo), by Dora Lopes. His first collaboration with Jobim, "Incerteza," was recorded by the singer Mauricy Moura in 1953. In 1955, Dalva de Oliveira recorded "Castigo" (with Jobim). In the next year, he had other of his songs (with Jobim) recorded: "Só Saudade" (by Osny Silva and Cláudia Morena) and "Luar e Batucada" (by Silvinha Telles). In 1957, Silvinha Telles recorded "Foi a Noite" (with Jobim), that was considered by some critics as the starting point of bossa nova. In 1958, João Gilberto recorded one of the most important songs of the bossa (that also worked as a letter of intentions of the new genre), "Desafinado" (Jobim/Mendonça). In 1959, Isaurinha Garcia recorded "Meditação," and Telles "Discussão," both by the duo. After his first heart attack in 1959, he had his song "Brigas" (with Jobim) recorded by Marisa Barroso in 1960; Gilberto recorded "Meditação," "Samba de uma Nota Só," "Discussão," and "Desafinado" (all with Jobim) on his LP O Amor, o Sorriso e a Flor. In 1960, Mendonça had his second heart attack, followed by the fatal one, in November.
Newton Mendonça Biography
by Alvaro Neder