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Commemorative Postal Issue: 150 Years of Conductor Tonheca Dantas’ Birth

About the Stamps

The stamp presents, in the foreground, a drawing of the conductor’s bust with his uniform. In the background we have an excerpt of the sheet of the “Royal Cinema”, waltz written by him. At the bottom right is an illustration of his favorite musical instrument, the “bombardino” (also known as euphonium), along with the name Maestro (Conductor) Tonheca Dantas. Techniques of manual illustration and computer graphics were used.

Conductor Tonheca Dantas

On June 13, 1871, came to the light of life, at the place Carnaúba de Baixo (later Carnaúba dos Dantas), at that time belonging to the municipality of Acari, in the Seridó region of Rio Grande do Norte, a boy who was named Antonio, following the Luso-Spanish tradition of naming after the saint of that day. Antônio Pedro Dantas, in full, nicknamed Tonheca.

Son of Lieutenant-Colonel João José Dantas and the freed slave Vicência Maria do Espírito Santo, who was taken by the wife of its former owner and of whom he had eight children. Tonheca enjoyed the common childhood that boys of the village had, but with a distinctive trait: the precocious taste for music, accompanying the older brothers, who were part of the local philharmonic. Advancing in the years, in a self-taught and intuitive way, he started to play all the band’s instruments, which encouraged him to move to the State Capital, in 1898, where he was welcomed into the corps of musicians in the province’s Security Battalion, equivalent to the current Military Police. A curious fact is registered when he was selected to join as a military musician: he played all the instruments available in the room, perfectly executing the music sheets he was offered, which earned him the assumption of the orchestra’s conduction, without going through the other steps of the career.

Restless by nature, as early as in 1903, he was in Belém do Pará, hired to conduct the local Fire Brigade Band, even presenting to the President of the Republic, Affonso Pena, on a certain occasion, and his entourage. For his mobility standards, he remained long, for he returned to the Northeast as late as 1910, this time to conduct the municipal bands of Alagoa Grande and Alagoa Nova, in the region called “brejo paraibano”, where he had already played when he left the the group of potiguar (Rio Grande do Norte State born) military philharmonic. In 1911 he returned to Natal, captial of Rio Grande do Norte State, and after a short stint - again - in the police band, he dedicated himself to private music education, in addition to individual toccatas. At that time, good musicians started to be required for a new kind of production - the silent film - where Tonheca played in the film presentation backgrounds, expanding his compositions list, including naming one of his waltzes after a fancy exhibition hall, the “Royal Cinema”, pointed out by researchers as his most remarkable production. The year is 1913, but the quality of the music protruded in time and even lyrics were added in 1922, written by the poet Bezerra Júnior, as informed by researcher Leide Câmara, in his “Dictionary of Music in Potiguar”. This waltz was quickly popularized among the Americans who occupied Natal during the Second World War and from then on it was disseminated in other places on the planet, like the BBC station in London, which played it extensively, although without registering the authorship.

Many other compositions by Tonheca Dantas managed to comply with the most exquisite orchestras, such as the waltzes “Delírio” and “A defolhar saudades”, the suite “Melodia do Bosque” and the dobrados “Tenente José Paulino”, “Embaixador in Paraíba” and “Correio do Norte”.

Tonheca Dantas passed away in Natal, on February 7, 1940.

The recognition of the importance of Tonheca Dantas in Brazilian musical history is marked by the affixing of his name to a room at Teatro Alberto Maranhão and the patronage of chair 33 of Academia Norte-rio-grandense de Letras, an institution that is proud to present this Release Folder on the occasion of the launch of the commemorative postage stamp for the 150 years of the great musician and composer birth.

Diógenes da Cunha Lima

President of Academia Norte-rio-grandense de Letras (Norte-riograndense Academy of Letters)

Technical Details

Stamp issue N. 5

Illustration: Francisco Iran

Photo: Evaldo Gomes


Art-Finishing: Jamile Costa Sallum -Correios Brasil

Print system: offset

Paper: gummed chalky paper

Sheet with 12 stamps

Facial value: 1st class rate for domestic mail

Issue: 120,000 stamps

Design area: 30 x 40mm

Stamp dimensions: 30 x 40mm

Perforation: 12 x 11.5

Date of issue: June 13th, 2021

Place of issue: Carnaúna dos Dantas/RN

Printing: Brazilian Mint

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