One of Brazil's best proponents and keepers of the gafieira tradition (popular ballrooms historically linked to the Carioca folklore tradition of highly artistic and swinging dancing and playing) and one of the best choro players, Paulo Moura is an internationally awarded musician whose high standards make it easy for him to cross boundaries between classical and popular music, both performing and arranging in small ensembles or large symphonic orchestras. As a conductor, orchestrator, and arranger for famous Brazilian singers, he includes in his resumé works for Elis Regina, Fagner, Taiguara, Milton Nascimento, and Marisa Monte.
Paulo Gonçalves de Moura was born in a musical family. His father, Pedro Moura, was an amateur bandleader and clarinetist himself, but was a carpenter by profession. Paulo's brothers, José and Alberico, are trumpet players and Valdemar, a trombonist. At nine, Paulo started to study the piano and at 13, was already playing in his father's band at parties and balls.
Moving to Rio with his family, at 18 he began his studies at the National College of Music. Completing the seven-year course in only two years, he continued his studies of theory, harmony, and counterpoint with the famous master Paulo Silva. He also studied harmony, counterpoint, and fugue with fundamental Brazilian composer/orchestrator/conductor Guerra Peixe. On the popular side, he took arrangement lessons with internationally acclaimed Brazilian saxophonist/composer/arranger Moacir Santos and with saxophonist/composer/arranger Maestro Cipó. In 1951, Moura joined Osvaldo Borba's orchestra. Later, he also joined Zacarias e Sua Orquestra.