One of the most important artists of the bossa nova movement, Carlos Lyra
was also an intellectual behind the movement, forging new directions like the protest song. Lyra wrote some of the best moments of the bossa nova on his own or together with illustrious partners like Vinícius de Moraes. With Roberto Menescal, Carlos Lyra
created a guitar academy that became a meeting point for future artists like Edu Lobo, Marcos Valle, Nara Leão, and Ronaldo Bôscoli. In 1954, Geraldo Vandré interpreted his song "Menina" in a festival; it was recorded in the next year by Sílvia Telles. Three years later, Os Cariocas recorded his "Criticando." In 1959, João Gilberto
included three of Lyra's compositions: "Maria Ninguém," "Lobo Bobo," and "Saudade Fez um Samba" (the latter two written with Bôscoli) in his Chega de Saudade (a landmark in the bossa nova genre). Lyra recorded his first solo album in that year, Carlos Lyra - Bossa Nova. Interested in a more active political militancy, Lyra wrote soundtracks for plays like Vianinha's A Mais-Valia Vai Acabar, Seu Edgar. That same year, Lyra met Vinícius de Moraes, with whom he would write bossa nova classics like "Você e Eu," "Minha Namorada," "Marcha da Quarta-Feira de Cinzas," and "Coisa Mais Linda." His social concerns took him to the CPC (Popular Center of Culture), where he would brew the protest song derived from the bossa nova, seen by him and other composers like Edu Lobo, Geraldo Vandré, and Chico Buarque
as reactionary. The immediate result of his cultural activity was a partnership with Zé Kéti in the "Samba da Legalidade," influencing the formation of the historic Opinião show, which had Nara Leão, Maria Bethânia, Zé Kéti, and João do Vale in a highly politicized text. In 1962, Lyra participated in the Bossa Nova Festival in the Carnegie Hall (New York). In the next year, Lyra wrote the soundtrack of the film Bonitinha Mas Ordinária, over text by Nelson Rodrigues. In 1964, he appeared in the Newport Festival with Stan Getz, touring with him in the following year through U.S, Canada, Europe, and Japan. In 1965, he also recorded with Paul Winter
. From that year on, he spent several years in Mexico, where he worked intensively as composer of soundtracks for short subjects and plays. In 1983, he started his partnership with Paulo César Pinheiro. Four years later, he performed in Spain with Caetano Veloso, Toquinho, and Nana Caymmi. In 1988, he played in Japan with Leila Pinheiro and the Quarteto em Cy. In 1992, Lyra toured Spain and Portugal and performed at the Pescara Jazz Festival together with Gerry Mulligan and Gary Burton. In 1997, Lyra opened the show 40 Years of Bossa Nova in Tokyo (Japan), together with Roberto Menescal, Leila Pinheiro, and Astrud Gilberto.