From Brazil To Croatia: Connecting Music and Language through Brussels-Based Guitarist Victor Da Costa

Total Croatia News

Updated on:

Image: Emmanuel Torfs
Image: Emmanuel Torfs

Victor Da Costa was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1971 and started playing the guitar at the age of 11. After studying music at the ‘Musiarte’ institute in Rio, he moved to Europe to improve his skills, and in 1993 he entered the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, where he obtained the first prize for guitar in 1995 and harmony in 1999. Since 2002, Victor has performed with his trio and different other groups in renowned venues and festivals. He is also active as a composer and has released 3 CDs. Victor currently teaches jazz guitar at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels.

We met Victor during a concert of the duo BraziuFlor in Maison d’Istrie, an esteemed Istrian restaurant in Brussels. After months of closure and restrictions due to the pandemic, we enjoyed an evening of traditional Brazilian Bossanova music and an atmosphere of friendship and joy among the guests. We saw Victor totally at ease in a Croatian context; he talks and jokes with Katarina Ramljak, his partner in the musical duo (and also in life). When we approached him, for a moment, we forgot that he was from Rio. He seemed more like a second or third-generation Croat, born in Brazil to a family who emigrated there several years ago. But we were wrong.

Between one song and another, Victor told us that he had the opportunity to hear the Croatian language for the first time during his studies in Brussels, and immediately fell in love with it. He already knows Portuguese, English, French, and Dutch. He didn’t want to miss the opportunity to study this exotic and distant language, with all the difficulties of starting to learn from scratch, all by himself and without knowing any Croats. He began to look for Croatian people in Brussels interested in a Croatian/Portuguese conversation exchange and thus managed to start practising it. With a Brazilian friend from London, they decided to visit Istria and eventually fell in love with Pula and Rijeka, to which he is particularly attached precisely because this was his Croatian “baptism”.

Over the years, he insisted on learning Croatian, overcoming the difficulty of declinations, even if he still fights with suffixes and prefixes. Some help came from the music of Oliver Dragojevic and Arsen Dedic, which he is very fond of.



Image: @FacebookPage BraziuFlor 

Last summer, he met the singer Katarina Ramljak, who throughout her life followed the same dream, but the other way round: learning Portuguese and singing Brazilian popular music. Katarina studied Portuguese literature and has been to Brazil five times to take singing courses. For years she has been looking for a guitarist for her music project BraziuFlor. When Victor arrived, everything was straightforward, as if it was always meant to be.

Over a glass of good Istrian malvazija, we asked Victor what he likes about Croatia and what he does not give up when he goes to visit Katarina in Zagreb. Victor replied that he loves the sociability of having coffee in Croatia, which is not just the gesture of drinking a cup of coffee, but it means talking, welcoming, and socialising: “Sometimes you start drinking with a group of 3 or 4 people, and after 1 hour you end up in 10. In Brazil, the same happens, which makes me feel at home. We are always in a hurry and finding time to dedicate to friends is one of the most beautiful gifts we can do to ourselves,” he explained.

He often goes to Croatia, especially now that he has a sentimental reason, but he also has many musician friends and often plays in jazz festivals. He is very impressed by the development of Croatia in terms of infrastructure and tourism, and he finds that the coast is stunning everywhere. However, he would like other areas to be more valued, such as Slavonija and Zagorije, hidden jewels that still not many people know. 

Victor will play again at Maison d’Istrie on March 17th. In Croatia, we will listen to BraziuFlor definitely in August when they will hold several concerts during summer festivals.

Talking with Victor and Katarina was extremely pleasant even to grasp their complicity, the mix of Croatian and Brazilian in their speeches and the correctness of Victor’s Croatian grammar makes us understand what a great professional he is: a complete musician with great talent but also with a true heart and good vibes! Viva a Mùsica!

For more, check out our lifestyle section.


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment