Saboeira (marching band)

 Lúcia Gaspar
Joaquim Nabuco Foundation Librarian
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Founded on 25 November 1849, in Goiana, Pernambuco, the Saboeira Marching Band was affiliated with the Liberal Party (Partido Liberal), while its rival, Curica, belonged to the Conservative Party (Partido Conservador).

There are two versions for the origin of the name: the first says that in the beginning, the band did not have its own uniform and the musicians had to wash their best clothes for performances, and that is why their adversaries called them “saboeiros” (“soapers”), referring to the soap they used to wash their clothes. The second version, perhaps more believable, is because of the existence of a ‘saboeiro’ (‘wingleaf soapberry’ – a tree whose fruit produces foam when rubbed) next to the band’s first headquarters, giving rise to the name Saboeira, by which it became known.

One of the most important events in the band’s history was its performance during the visit of Emperor Pedro II to Goiana, in 1859.

Saboeira is Pernambuco’s second oldest marching band and was always linked with the Liberal Party’s luck, as much in victory as in defeat.

With the decline of the old imperial parties and the advent of republican propaganda, the band was no longer important to the Party and was practically disbanded.

In 1886, Francisco Tavares de Melo took over the direction of Saboeira, maintaining it with his own resources and the help of Liberal Party members.

In October 1908, one of its most important members, José Pinto de Abreu, decided to organise a society, maintained with a monthly membership fee, whose goal was to guarantee the band’s continuation and regular activity, thus creating the Sociedade 12 de Outubro (October 12 Society), which was responsible for the upkeep of Saboeira.

From 1908 to 1930, the band had various presidents, and during the Aliança Liberal (Liberal Alliance) campaign, in the 1930 Revolution, Saboeira was under the guidance of the mayor and political head Serafim Luiz Pessoa de Mello, who was one of its great promoters.
In 1939, a new headquarters was constructed for the band, with the help of directors, associates, the then-Federal Interventor of Pernambuco, Agamenon Magalhães, and the ex-Governor Barbosa Lima Sobrinho, among others.

Saboeira has participated in various competitions, having won several prizes, among them first place at a competition promoted by Argus Industrial of São Paulo.

The rivalry between Goiana’s two marching bands, Curica and Saboeira, has always existed and is still as strong as it was in the past, but both are sources of pride for the people of Goiana and of Pernambuco.
Recife, 7 April 2004.
(Updated on 31 August 2009).

Translated by Peter Leamy, January 2012.


IRMÃO, José Pedro Damião. Tradicionais bandas de música. Recife: CEPE, 1970. 184p.

SILVA, Leonardo Dantas (Org.) Bandas musicais de Pernambuco: origens e repertório. Recife: Governo do Estado de Pernambuco. Secretaria do Trabalho e Ação Social. Fundo de Amparo ao Trabalhador, 1998. 395p.


Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Saboeira (Marching Band). Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009



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