Villa-Lobos, Heitor

views updated Jun 11 2018

Villa-Lobos, Heitor

Villa-Lobos, Heitor, remarkable Brazilian composer of great originality and unique ability to recreate native melodic and rhythmic elements in large instrumental and choral forms; b. Rio de Janeiro, March 5, 1887; d. there, Nov. 17,1959. He studied music with his father, a writer and amateur cello player; after his father’s death in 1899, Villa-Lobos earned a living by playing the cello in cafés and restaurants; he valso studied cello with Benno Niederberger. From 1905 to 1912 Villa-Lobos traveled in Brazil in order to collect authentic folk songs. In 1907 he entered the National Inst. of Music in Rio de Janeiro, where he studied with Frederico Nascimento, Angelo Franca, and Francisco Braga. In 1912 he undertook an expedition into the interior of Brazil, where he gathered a rich collection of Indian songs. On Nov. 13, 1915, he presented a concert of his compositions in Rio de Janeiro, creating a sensation by the exuberance of his music and the radical character of his technical idiom. He met Artur Rubinstein, who became his ardent admirer; for him VillaLobos composed a transcendentally difficult Rudepoema. In 1923 Villa-Lobos went to Paris on a Brazilian government grant; upon returning to Brazil in 1930, he was active in São Paulo and then in Rio de Janeiro in music education, founding a Cons, under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Education in 1942. He introduced bold innovations into the national program of music education, with an emphasis on the cultural resources of Brazil. He also compiled a Guia pratico,containing choral arrangements of folk songs of Brazil and other nations and organized the “orpheonic concentrations” of schoolchildren, whom he trained to sing according to his own cheironomic method of solfeggio. In 1944 he made his first tour of the U.S., and conducted his works in Los Angeles, Boston, and N.Y. In 1945 he established the Brazilian Academy of Music in Rio de Janeiro, serving as its president from 1947 until his death. He made frequent visits to the U.S. and France during the last 15 years of his life.

Villa-Lobos was one of the most original composers of the 20thcentury. He lacked formal academic training, but far from hampering his development, this deficiency liberated him from pedantic restrictions, so that he evolved an idiosyncratic technique of composition, curiously eclectic, but all the better suited to his musical aesthetics. An ardent Brazilian nationalist, he resolved from his earliest attempts in composition to use authentic Brazilian song materials as the source of his inspiration, yet he avoided using actual quotations from popular songs; rather, he wrote melodies which are authentic in their melodic and rhythmic content. In his desire to relate Brazilian folk resources to universal values, he composed a series of extraordinary works, Bachianas brasileiras, which Brazilian melorhythms are treated in Bachian counterpoint. He also composed a number of works under the generic title Chôros,a popular Brazilian dance form marked by incisive rhythm and a ballad-like melody. An experimenter by nature, Villa-Lobos devised a graphic method of composition, using geometrical contours of drawings and photographs as outlines for the melody; in this manner he wrote The New York Skyline,using a photograph for guidance. Villa-Lobos wrote operas, ballets, syms., chamber music, choruses, piano pieces, and songs, the total number of his compositions being in excess of 2,000.


dramatic: Opera: Izaht (1912-14; rev. 1932; concert premiere, Rio de Janeiro, April 6, 1940; stage premiere, Rio de Janeiro, Dec. 13, 1958); Magdalena (1947; Los Angeles, July 26,1948); Yerma (1953-56; Santa Fe, Aug. 12,1971); A menina das nuvens (1957-58; Rio de Janeiro, Nov. 29, 1960); others left unfinished. Ballet (many converted from symphonic poems): Uirapuru (1917; Buenos Aires, May 25,1935; rev. 1948); Possessšo (1929); Pedra Bonita (1933); Dança da terra (1939; Rio de Janeiro, Sept. 7, 1943); Rudà (1951); Gênesis (1954; as a symphonie poem, 1969); Emperor Jones (1955; Ellenville, N.Y., July 12, 1956). 9 BACHIANAS BRASILEIRAS: No. 1 for 8 Cellos (Rio de Janeiro, Sept. 12, 1932), No. 2 for Chamber Orch. (1933), No. 3 for Piano and Orch. (1934), No. 4 for Piano (1930-40; orchestrated, N.Y., June 6, 1942), No. 5 for Voice and 8 Cellos (1938; Rio de Janeiro, March 25, 1939), No. 6 for Flute and Bassoon (1938), No. 7 for Orch. (1942; Rio de Janeiro, March 13,1944), No. 8 for Orch. (1944; Rome, Aug. 6,1947), and No. 9 for Chorus or String Orch. (1944) 15 CHÔROS: No. 1 for Guitar (1920), No. 2 for Flute and Clarinet (1921), No. 3 for Men’s Chorus and 7 Wind Instruments (1925), No. 4 for 3 Horns and Trombone (1926), No. 5, Alma brasileira,for Piano (1926), No. 6 for Orch. (1926; Rio de Janeiro, July 15, 1942), No. 7 for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Saxophone, Bassoon, Violin, and Cello (1924), No. 8 for Large Orch. and 2 Pianos (1925; Paris, Oct. 24, 1927), No. 9 for Orch. (1929; Rio de Janeiro, July 15, 1942), No. 10, Rasga o Coração,for Chorus and Orch. (1925; Rio de Janeiro, Dec. 15,1926), No. 11 for Piano and Orch. (1928; Rio de Janeiro, July 15, 1942), No. 12 for Orch. (1929; Cambridge, Mass., Feb. 21,1945), No. 13 for 2 Orchs. and Band (1929), No. 14 for Orch., Band, and Chorus (1928), and No. 15, a supernumerary Chôros bisfor Violin and Cello (1928). OTHER ORCH.: Dansas africanas (1914; Paris, April 5, 1928); 2 cello concertos: No. 1, Grand Concerto (1915), and No. 2 (1953; N.Y., Feb. 5, 1955); 12 syms.: No. 1, Imprevisto (1916; Rio de Janeiro, Aug. 30, 1920), No. 2, Ascenção (1917), No. 3, Guerra (Rio de Janeiro, July 30, 1919), No. 4, Vitória (1920), No. 5, Paz (1921), No. 6, Montanhas do Brasil (1944), No. 7, Odisséia da paz (1945; London, March 27, 1949), No. 8 (1950; Philadelphia, Jan. 14, 1955), No. 9 (1951; Caracas, May 16,1966), No. 10, Sume Pater Patrium,for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1952; Paris, April 4, 1957), No. 11 (1955; Boston, March 2, 1956), and No. 12 (1957; Washington, D.C., April 20, 1958); 2 sinfoniettas (1916, 1947); Amazonas (1917; Paris, May 30,1929); Fantasy of Mixed Movementsfor Violin and Orch. (Rio de Janeiro, Dec. 15,1922); Momoprecocefor Piano and Orch. (Amsterdam, 1929); Caixinha de Boas Pestas (Rio de Janeiro, Dec. 8, 1932); Ciranda das sete notesfor Bassoon and Strings (1933); 3 of 4 suites titled Descobrimento do Brasil (1937; No. 4 is an oratorio); The New York Skyline (1939); Rudepoema (orch. version of the piano work of that name; Rio de Janeiro, July 15,1942); Madona,tone poem (1945; Rio de Janeiro, Oct. 8, 1946); 5 piano concertos (1945; 1948; 1952-57; 1952; 1954); Fantasiafor Cello and Orch. (1945); Fantasiafor Soprano Saxophone, Strings, and 2 Horns (1948); Erosion, or The Origin of the Amazon River (Louisville, Nov. 7,1951); Guitar Concerto (1951); Harp Concerto (1953; Philadelphia, Jan. 14, 1955); Odyssey of a Race,symphonic poem written for Israel (1953; Haifa, May 30, 1954); Dawn in a Tropical Forest (1953; Louisville, Jan. 23, 1954); Harmonica Concerto (1955; Jerusalem, Oct. 27, 1959); Izi,symphonic poem (1957). OTHER CHAMBER: 3 piano trios (1911, 1916, 1918); Quinteto duplo de cordas (1912); 4 Sonatas-Fantasiafor Violin and Piano (1912, 1914, 1915, 1918); 17 string quartets (1915, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1931, 1938, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1958); 2 cello sonatas (1915, 1916); Piano Quintet (1916); Mystic Sextetfor Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Celesta, Harp, and Guitar (1917); Trio for Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon (1921); Woodwind Quartet (1928); Quintet in the Form of a Chôrosfor Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, and English Horn (1928; rev. 1953, replacing English Horn with French Horn); String Trio (1946); Duofor Violin and Viola (1946); Fantasia concertantefor Piano, Clarinet, and Bassoon (1953); Duofor Oboe and Bassoon (1957); Quintet for Flute, Harp, Violin, Viola, and Cello (1957); Fantasia concertantefor Cello Ensemble (N.Y., Dec. 10, 1958). VOCAL: Criançasfor Chorus (1908); Vidapura,oratorio for Chorus, Orch., and Organ (1918; Rio de Janeiro, Nov. 11, 1922); Hinos aos artistasfor Chorus and Orch. (1919); Quartet for Harp, Celesta, Flute, Saxophone, and Women’s Voices (1921); Nonetto for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Saxophone, Bassoon, Harp, Celesta, Percussion, and Chorus (1923); Cantiga da Rodafor Women’s Chorus and Orch. (1925); Na Bah a ternfor Chorus (1925); Canção da Terrafor Chorus (1925); Missa São Sebastiãofor Chorus (1937); Suite No. 4 of Descobrimento do Brasilfor Orch. and Chorus (1937); Mandu-Carará,cantata profana for Chorus and Orch. (1940; N.Y, Jan. 23, 1948; also a ballet); Bendita sabedoria (Blessed Wisdom) for Chorus (1958); Magnificat-Alleluiafor Boy Contralto, Chorus, Organ, and Orch. (Rio de Janeiro, Nov. 8, 1958; by request of Pope Pius XII); etc. Songs: Confidencia (1908); Noite de Luar (1912); Mal secreto (1913); Fleur fanée (1913); // nome di Maria (1915); Sertão no Estio (1919); Canções típicas brasileiras (10 numbers; 1919); Historiettes (6 numbers; 1920); Epigrammes ironiques et sentimentales (8 numbers; 1921); Suitefor Voice and Violin (1923); Poème de l’Enfant et de sa Mèrefor Voice, Flute, Clarinet, and Cello (1923); Serestas (suite of 14 numbers; 1925); 3 poemas indígenas (1926); Suite sugestivafor Voice and Orch. (1929); Modinhas e canções (2 albums; 1933,1943); Poem of ltabirafor Alto and Orch. (1941; Rio de Janeiro, Dec. 30, 1946); Canção das aguas clarasfor Voice and Orch. (1956). PIANO: Valsa romantica (1908); Brinquedo de Roda (6 pieces; 1912); Primeira suite infantil (5 pieces; 1912); Segunda suite infantil (4 pieces; 1913); Fábulas características (3 pieces; 1914-18); Danças africanas (1915); Prole do Bebé,Suite No. 1 (8 pieces, including the popular Polichinello;1918), No. 2 (9 pieces; 1921), and No. 3 (9 pieces; 1929); Historia da Carochinha (4 pieces; 1919); Carnaval das enancas crianças brasileiras (8 pieces; 1919); Lenda do Caboclo (1920); Dança infernal (1920); Sul América (1925); Cirandinhas (12 pieces; 1925); Rudepoema (1921-26); Cirandas (16 pieces; 1926); Alma brasileira (ChôrosNo. 5; 1926); Lembrança do Sertão (1930); Caixinha de música quebrada (1931); Ciclo brasileiro (4 pieces; 1936); As Tres Marías (3 pieces; 1939); Poema singelo (1942); Homenagem a Chopin (1949).


V Mariz, H V.-L (Rio de Janeiro, 1949; IIthed., 1990); C. de Paula Barros, O Romance de V.-L.(Rio de Janeiro, 1951); Homenagem a V.-L. (Rio de Janeiro, 1960); M. Beaufils, V.-L, Musicien et poete du Brésil (Rio de Janeiro, 1967); E. Nogueria Franca, V.-L: Sintese critica e biográfica (Rio de Janeiro, 1970; 2nded., 1973); L. Guimarães, V.-L visto da plateia e na intimidade (1912-1935) (Rio de Janeiro, 1972); L. Peppercorn, H. V.-L: Leben und Werk des Brasilianischen Komponisten (Zürich, 1972); F. Pereira da Silva, V.-L (Rio de Janeiro, 1974); T. Santos, H. V-L and the Guitar (Bank, County Cork, 1985); P. Carvalho, V.-L: Do crépsculo à alvorada (Rio de Janeiro, 1987); M. Claret, ed., O Pensamento vivo de H. V.-L (São Paulo, 1987); M. Machado, H. V.-L: Tradição e renovacão na música brasileria (Rio de Janeiro, 1987); A. Schic, V.-L: Souvenirs de l’indien blanc (Arles and Paris, 1987); E. Stornio, V-L (Madrid, 1987); D. Appleby, H. V.-L: A Biobibliography (N.Y., 1988); L. Peppercorn, V.-L: Collected Studies (Aldershot, 1992); S. Wright, V.-L (Oxford, 1992); G. Behague, H. V.-L: The Search for Brazil’s Musical Soul (Austin, Tex., 1994); L. Peppercorn, The World of V-L. in Pictures and Documents (Aldershot, 1995); E. Tarasti, H. V.-L: The Life and Works, 1887-1959 (Jefferson, N.C., 1995).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Villa-Lobos, Heitor

views updated May 08 2018


Important South American composer and music educator; b. Rio de Janeiro, March 5, 1887; d. there, Nov. 17, 1959. After music studies with his father, an amateur cellist, and later at the National Institute of Music, he made his mark first on the concert stage; but several folklorist expeditions into the Brazilian interior, however, fired his

ambition to create the "musical image" of his country. A government grant for composition study in Paris (192326) intensified his awareness of his role, and he returned to Brazil "still more Brazilian." Undertaking an intensive campaign of "musicalization of the masses," he was appointed director of public school music in São Paulo (1930) and Rio de Janeiro (1932). To implement his work with children he turned out innumerable teaching aidsrounds, cradle songs, folk song arrangements, practical exercisesin addition to his adult compositions.

His total output was more than 2,000 works, placing him among the most prolific composers on record. Inevitably some of his music has only its spontaneity to redeem it; at its best it is virtuoso workvital and imaginative, in content evocative of the ethnic sentiment and idiom of his environment, and always expertly crafted. Among his most original works are the Bachianas brasileiras nine inventions in which Brazilian themes are grafted on to Bach-like counterpoint; 14 elaborations of the Brazilian dance-song form, chôros; and the symphonic poems. His Mass dedicated to St. Sebastian and incorporating animist liturgies; his suites entitled Descobrimento do Brasil (Discovery of Brazil), a vast fresco of the Christianization of the native people; his spiritual motets, and the Magnificat-Alleluia commissioned by the Vatican dominate his tribute to religion. Among his "absolute" writings are 11 symphonies, 11 concertos (six for piano), 17 quartets, and many experimental works. Although a nationalist to the extent that his music echoes the indigenous rhythms and nostalgic melismas, the spatial vistas of his homeland, he was never a propagandist, but sought rather in each problem to deduce the formula of equilibrium between native atmosphere and universal artistic values. He was also a noted conductor, and introduced both Beethoven's Missa solemnis and J. S. Bach's B-minor Mass to Brazil.

Bibliography: v. mariz, Heitor Villa-Lobos (Rio de Janeiro 1949), condensed tr. with same title pub. Gainesville. Fla. 1963. a. muricy, "Villa-Lobos," Pan American Union. Bulletin 79.1 (1945) 110. o. l. fernÂndez, "A contribuição harmônica de Villa-Lobos," Boletín Latino-americano de música 6 (1946) 283300. n. slonimsky, Music of Latin America (New York 1945; rev. 1949). Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, ed. n. slonimsky (5th, rev. ed. New York 1958) 171012. n. fraser, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. e. blom 9 v. (5th ed. London 1954) 8:792797. l. h. corrÊa be azevedo Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949). gerard bÉhague, Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Search for Brazil's Musical Soul (Austin 1994). l. m. peppercorn, The World of Villa-Lobos in Pictures and Documents (Aldershot 1996); "H. Villa-Lobos in Paris," Latin American Music Review 6 (1985) 23548. g. rickards, "Heitor Villa-Lobos" in International Dictionary of Opera 2 v., ed. c. s. larue (Detroit 1993); "Yerma " ibid. e. storni, Villa-Lobos (Madrid 1988). s. wright, Villa-Lobos (Oxford 1992).

[m. beaufils]

Villa-Lobos, Heitor

views updated May 18 2018

Villa-Lobos, Heitor (b Rio de Janeiro, 1887; d Rio de Janeiro, 1959). Brazilian composer. First mus. lessons from father, who taught him vc. Had harmony lessons 1907, otherwise self-taught, earning living by playing in cafés, etc. Played vc. in Rio opera and sym. orchs., absorbing influences from Russ. nationalists, Stravinsky, and Strauss, under whose baton he played in 1920. Befriended by Milhaud when latter was Claudel's secretary at Fr. embassy, and by Arthur Rubinstein, 1921, who played his pf. mus. Spent 1923–4 in Europe and 1927–30 in Paris where he was influenced by Satie and Milhaud and by fashionable neoclassicism. Result was series of works called Bachianas Brasileiras in which Baroque forms were re-created with Brazilian ‘local colour’. Returning to Brazil 1930, held series of official teaching posts. Founded Conservatório Nacional de Canto Orfeónico 1942 and Brazilian Acad. of Mus., 1945 (pres. 1945–59). Visited USA 1944 as cond. of own mus. Extremely prolific composer, with expected sharp variations in quality. Though his mus. suggests the folk idiom, he rarely, if ever, quoted a folk-song, relying instead on colour and rhythm to give Brazilian flavour. Melodist and romantic, he used the popular chôro form as a basis for series of works for various combinations of instr. and vv. with specific nationalist intent. Prin. works incl.:OPERAS: Izaht (1912–14); Yerma (1955–6).CHÔROS: No.1, gui, (1920); No.2, fl., cl. (1924); No.3, 7 winds, male ch. (1925); No.4, 2 hn., tb. (1926); No.5, pf. (1926); No.6, orch. (1926); No.7, 5 winds, vn., vc. (1924); No.8, 2 pf., orch. (1925); No.9, orch. (1929); No.10, orch., ch. (1925); No.11, pf., orch. (1928); No.12, orch. (1929); No.13, 2 orchs., band (1929); No.14, orch., band, ch. (1928). Also Chôros bis, vn., vc. (1928)BACHIANAS BRASILEIRAS: 1. 8 vc. (1930); 2. The Little Train of the Caipira, chamber orch. (1934); 3. pf., orch. (1934); 4. pf. (1930–40) or orch. (1941); 5. v., 8 vcs. (1938); 6. fl., bn. (1938); 7. orch. (1942); 8. orch. (1944); 9. unacc. ch. or str. (1944).ORCH.: syms.: No.1 (1916), No.2 (1917), Nos. 3 and 4 (1919), No.5 (1920)—Nos. 3, 4, and 5 are a World War I trilogy, subtitled respectively ‘Guerra’, ‘Vitória’, and ‘Paz’—No.6 (Montanhas do Brasil) (1944), No.7 (Odisséia da paz) (1945), No.8 (1950), No.9 (1951), No.10 (Sume pater patrium), soloists, ch., orch. (1952), No.11 (1955), No.12 (1957); Suite Suggestive No.1 (1929); 4 Suites, Descrobimento di Brasil (Discovery of Brazil) (1936–7, 1942); New York Skyline (1940); vc. concs., No.1 (1915), No.2 (1953); 5 pf. concs. (1945–54); gui. conc. (1951); hp. conc. (1953); harmonica conc. (1955).CHAMBER MUSIC: 17 str. qts. (1915–58); 3 pf. trios (1911–18); 4 vn. sonatas (1912–23); Berceuse (1915); 2 vc. sonatas (1915, 1916); Nonet (1923); Sextetto mistico (1945).PIANO: Suite Infantil Nos. 1 and 2 (1912, 1913); A Prole do Bebê Nos. 1 and 2 (The Baby's Family) (1918, 1921); Rudepoema (1921–6, also for pf. and orch.); Saudades das Selvas Brasileiras (1927).GUITAR: 12 Études (1928); 5 Preludes (1940)

Heitor Villa-Lobos

views updated Jun 08 2018

Heitor Villa-Lobos

The Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) was the most prolific and original of those Brazilians who, during the 20th century, worked toward the development of a national idiom in serious music that incorporated African and Native American motifs.

Heitor Villa-Lobos was fascinated early by the popular music and samba rhythms of his native Rio de Janeiro at a time when gentility forbade such interests. Although his father, a college professor and librarian, had encouraged this interest, Villa-Lobos ran away from home at 16 to escape his widowed mother's attempt to keep him from developing further his musical talents.

Soon Villa-Lobos began drifting. He absorbed the folk music of whatever region he passed through, listening, mimicking, improvising, elaborating, and composing as he went. He traveled along the Amazon in a canoe, listening to the songs of tropical birds and the drums of the Indians. Although he occasionally enrolled for formal schooling, he found such experiences boring; he remained principally self-taught. In his 20s he lived for 3 years in the culturally diverse city of Bahia, where the Afro-Brazilian influence was strongest. Then he returned to Rio de Janeiro, where he studied European music on his own.

Meanwhile, Villa-Lobos experimented continuously and wrote a great deal, always seeking to express Brazilian qualities. His nationalism was reflected in the following incident. In 1923 wealthy friends raised money and sent him to Europe, but when upon his arrival he was asked what he had come to study, he replied, "I am here to demonstrate my own achievements." Indeed, Parisians showed more interest in his works than had Brazilians, perhaps because in Europe they were considered exotic. He remained in Paris for 7 years, composing some of his most important work.

Back in Brazil in the 1930s Villa-Lobos became a music educator, campaigning for the introduction of Brazilian music into the school curriculum and staging performances by massed a cappella choirs extolling nationalistic themes. The semiauthoritarian dictator Getulio Vargas gave him full support in this campaign, and Villa-Lobos's influence can still be seen in musical education in Brazil.

At this time Villa-Lobos composed the nine suites entitled Bachianas brasileiras. These are his best-known works; in all of them he used a contrapuntal and fugal technique superimposed upon typically Brazilian themes, although otherwise they are quite diverse. They are characterized by an impressive range, great power, melodic inventiveness, and controlled structure.

Villa-Lobos composed over 1, 500 works in almost every conceivable genre, including operas, ballets, church Masses, choral pieces, orchestral works, guitar solos, and movie scores. Not all his work is good, but at his best it is superb.

Further Reading

There is no serious book-length study of Villa-Lobos in English, although Vasco Mariz prepared a short summary, Heitor Villa-Lobos: Brazilian Composer (1963), a condensation of the author's biography published in Rio de Janeiro. Villa-Lobos is set in the larger context in Nicolas Slonimsky, Music of Latin America (1945). There is a section on the composer in Joseph Machlis, Introduction to Contemporary Music (1961).

Additional Sources

Behague, Gerard, Heitor Villa-Lobos: the search for Brazil's musical soul, Austin: Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Austin, 1994.

Peppercorn, L. M. (Lisa Margaret), Villa-Lobos, London; New York: Omnibus; New York: Distributor, Music Sales Corp., 1989. □

Villa-Lobos, Heitor

views updated Jun 08 2018

Villa-Lobos, Heitor (1887–1959) Brazilian composer and conductor. Villa-Lobos' Chôros compositions were influenced by Brazilian folk music and the music of Claude Debussy. His range of works includes operas, ballets, symphonies, religious and chamber music. His nine Bachianas Brasileiras are a Brazilian transcription of the music of J. S. Bach.