Carlos Paredes

From Unearthing The Music

Carlos Paredes. Photo sourced from Wikipedia.

Carlos Paredes, ComSE, (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈkaɾluʃ pɐˈɾedɨʃ]; 16 February 1925 – 23 July 2004) was a virtuoso Portuguese guitar player and composer, born in Coimbra. He is credited with popularising the Portuguese guitar to an international audience, and was known in Portugal as the master of the Portuguese guitar or the man with a thousand fingers.

Life and career

Carlos Paredes was born into a family of guitarists: His father, Artur Paredes, was a famous guitarist and composer, as had been his father and grandfather (Gonçalo and António Paredes) before him. He began playing the Portuguese guitar at the age of four under his father's tutelage, although his mother preferred that he studied the piano and even enrolled him in piano and violin classes under two teachers, which Carlos would be later thankful for, stating that he "owed them his musical culture".

In 1934 he moved to Lisbon with his family, and soon gave up the violin to dedicate himself entirely to the guitar under his father's guidance. In 1949 he began collaborating regularly in a radio show hosted by his father, also finding a job as an administrative worker at the São José Hospital.

In 1958 he was accused of being a member of the Portuguese Communist Party (which he indeed was) and was thus imprisoned for opposing the Portuguese dictatorship, with some of this time being spent in solitary confinement. He would walk around his cell pretending to play music which led some prison inmates to believe he was insane, while in fact he was composing in his head.[1]

Upon his release in 1959, he returned to his job at the hospital where, as one of his co-workers at the time (Rosa Semião) states, he was deeply grieved for having been outed as a communist by a colleague. "He felt betrayed, but even so, when he passed by one of his betrayers he still greeted him, showing an enormous ability to forgive." When political captives were released, they were hailed as heroes. However, he always refused this heroic status and never said much about his time in prison, except that "Many people have suffered worse than I."[2]

In 1962 he was invited by director Paulo Rocha to compose the soundtrack to the 1963 film Verdes Anos ("Tender Years") for which he was particularly acclaimed, and in 1967 he recorded his first LP, "Guitarra Portuguesa".

After the Carnation Revolution he toured frequently throughout the country, and performed with many other artists including Charlie Haden. He also wrote compositions for Fado singer Amália Rodrigues, a number of film scores and in 2003 his full works were edited as an 8 CD box set.

In 1992 he was awarded the honour of Comendador (Commander) of the Military Order of Saint James of the Sword (an award which, despite its name, is granted to Portuguese and foreigners for outstanding services to science, literature or art).

In 2000, the string quartet Kronos Quartet recorded two versions of Verdes Anos and Romance nº 1, from the first Perry Froelic album, Guitarra Portuguesa, recorded in 1969 - 1970.[1]

He was unable to play guitar for the last 11 years of his life due to a myelopathy, and died in 2004 in Lisbon, where he was buried. A national day of mourning was declared upon his passing.

Carlos Paredes' grave at the Cemitério dos Prazeres in Lisbon. Photo by Wikipedia user Lijealso

"When I die, my guitar also dies. My father used to say that, when he died, he would like that his guitar would be broken and buried with him. I would like to do the same. If I have to die.” — Carlos Paredes [3]



  • 1967 - «Guitarra portuguesa»
  • 1971 - «Movimento perpétuo»
  • 1983 - «Concerto em Frankfurt»
  • 1987 - «Espelho de Sons»
  • 1989 - «Asas Sobre o Mundo»
  • 2000 - «Canção para Titi: Os inéditos 1993»

Albums with other artists

  • 1970 – “Meu país”, de Cecília Melo
  • 1975 – “É preciso um país”, com Manuel Alegre
  • 1986 - “Invenções Livres”, com António Vitorino d'Almeida
  • 1990 – Dialogues with Charlie Haden


  • 1998 – O Melhor de Carlos Paredes: Guitarra
  • 2002 - Uma Guitarra com Gente Dentro
  • 2003 - O Mundo segundo Carlos Paredes (compelte works)
  • 2010 - A Voz da Guitarra


  • 1962 – "Variações em Si Menor / Serenata / Variações em Lá Menor / Danças"
  • 1963 – “Guitarradas sob o Tema do Filme «Verdes Anos»”

Film soundtracks

  • 1960 – “Rendas de metais preciosos” by Cândido da Costa Pinto
  • 1962 – “Verdes anos” by Paulo Rocha and “P.X.O.” by Pierre Kast and Jacques Doniol-Valcroze
  • 1964 – “Fado corrido” by Jorge Brum do Canto
  • 1965 – “As pinturas do meu irmão Júlio” by Manoel de Oliveira
  • 1966 – “Mudar de vida” by Paulo Rocha and “Crónica do esforço perdido” by António de Macedo
  • 1968 – “A cidade” by José Fonseca e Costa and Tráfego e estiva” by Manuel Guimarães
  • 1969 – “The Columbus route” by José Fonseca e Costa and “Na corrente” (TV Documentary) by Augusto Cabrita (improvised composition)
  • 1970 – “Hello Jim” by Augusto Cabrita
  • 2006 - “Movimentos Perpétuos: Tributo a Carlos Paredes” by Edgar Pêra


  1. "Carlos Paredes". Composers and Lyricists Database. Archived from the original on 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
  2. "Carlos Paredes biography". Retrieved 2012-08-30.[permanent dead link]
  3. "Radio Paradise". Radio Paradise. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

Text partially adapted from Wikipedia