Viriato Figueira da Silva is one of the fathers of choro, a way of playing, or style, which was already defined around 1875, evolving until it constituted a genre, after 1900. da Silva also was the composer of the polkas "Só Pra Moer" (recorded in 1901 by the famous flutist Patápio Silva), "Macia" (dedicated to the renowned abolitionist politician, his friend José do Patrocínio), "É Segredo," "Caiu! Não Disse?," the quadrilha "Lucinda," and the song "Carolina." "Só Pra Moer" received lyrics by the famous poet Catulo da Paixão Cearense, becoming known as "Não Vê-La Mais."
da Silva studied at the Imperial Music Conservatory of Rio de Janeiro with Joaquim Calado. A virtuoso flutist, da Silva toured the north with great success, some years after the world's greatest flutist of those times, Andre Mateus Reichert, had played in the same capitals. In 1886 he joined the Orquestra Dramática do Teatro Fênix (Rio de Janeiro), which was conducted by Henrique Alves de Mesquita. The Orquestra played a successful season in São Paulo at the Teatro São José. The fact that he was one of the first to employ the saxophone in popular music in Brazil, playing choros, is of major importance because when Pixinguinha adopted the instrument in 1920, he was accused of being "Americanized." "Só Para Moer" had the first publication in 1877 by the Casa José Maria Alves da Rocha. The polka "Carnaval do Brasil" was presented at the Clube Mozart on July 15, 1878. In March 20, 1880, da Silva disputed with Duque Estrada Meyer, the chair of flute at the Imperial Conservatório de Música, opened by the demise of Joaquim Calado, who had been his closest friend; but the Emperor D. Pedro II nominated Meyer.
da Silva died from tuberculosis at 3:30 a.m., April 24, 1883. He was buried at the Cemitério São Francisco Xavier, but his friends, knowing of the mutual desire of the two friends of being buried side by side, realized a concert in December 17, 1883, raising funds to buy two other graves in the same cemetery where Calado (who was resting at the Cemitério São João Batista) and da Silva were buried.