Heitor Villa-Lobos

Heitor Villa-Lobos, also known as Hector Villa-Lobos, was born in Rio de Janeiro. He learned music from his father, who was a widely-read, highly-cultured amateur musician (and a librarian). By 1899, when his father died, Villa-Lobos had turned himself into a professional musician. He earned his living as a cafe musician, playing the cello.

In 1905 Villa-Lobos made the first of his trips to Brazil's north-eastern states, to collect folk music. He made many such trips and Villa-Lobos spun a web of mystery around them. His own testimony of adventures with the cannibal tribes of the North-East is not always trustworthy. Afterwards, he studied at the National Institute of Music in Rio de Janeiro, though his compositional style never conformed to any academic norms. His music remained always personal and idiosyncratic. As Villa-Lobos himself said many years later: 'My music is natural, like a waterfall.' Also: 'One foot in the academy and you are changed for the worst!'

After another ethno-musicological trip to the Amazonian interior in 1912, Villa-Lobos returned to Rio de Janeiro. There, on November 13, 1915, he turned the city on its ear with a concert of his new music. By 1923, he had attracted enough official favour to win a government grant to study in Paris. On his return in 1930, Villa-Lobos was made director of music education in Rio de Janeiro.

Thus began Villa-Lobos' glorious second career: pedagogue of music for his country. He designed a complete system of musical instruction for generations of Brazilians, based upon Brazil's rich musical culture, and rooted in a deep and always explicit patriotism. He composed choral music for huge choirs of school children, often adaptations of folk material. His legacy in the Brazil of today, even amongst new generations brought up with the samba-schools or MTV, is a strong feeling of pride and love, intertwined with similar feelings for their country. This is surprising, considering that this is a 'classical' composer dead now for more than 40 years; a North American parallel would be hard to find.

In 1944, Villa-Lobos made a trip to the United States to conduct his works, to critical and even some popular acclaim. Important new works were commissioned by American orchestras, and he even wrote a movie score for Hollywood, for the interesting 1945 film Green Mansions. The 1940s were a period of triumph on an international scale. As a composer and conductor of his own music, Villa-Lobos was lionized from Los Angeles to New York to Paris. In spite of his world travels, his home was always in Rio de Janeiro, where he died.

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1917 Uirapuru, ballet 4.00 out of 5 stars CD
Review:

New York Philharmonic Orchestra (Stadium S.O.) cond. Leopold Stokowski

1917 Sextet for Flute, Oboe, Saxophone, Harp, Cello and Guitar" 4.00 out of 5 stars CD
Review:

Lontano cond. Odaline de la Martinez

1921 Quatuor for Flute, Saxophone, Harp, Celesta and Women's Chorus "Impressoes da vida mundana" 4.00 out of 5 stars CD
Review:

Lontano cond. Odaline de la Martinez

1924 Choros no 7 for Chamber Ensemble 4.00 out of 5 stars CD
Review:

Lontano cond. Odaline de la Martinez

1928 Choros bis (2) for Violin and Cello 4.00 out of 5 stars CD
Review:

Lontano cond. Odaline de la Martinez

1919-1929 Mômoprecóce - Fantasy for piano & orchestra 4.00 out of 5 stars 3 CD
Villa-Lobos Bachianos Review:

Vladimir Ashkenazy - Piano
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Enrique Batiz

1933 From Bachianas Brasileiras No 2: The Little Train of the Caipira 4.00 out of 5 stars CD
Review:

New York Philharmonic Orchestra (Stadium S.O.) cond. Leopold Stokowski

1930-1938 From Bachianas Brasileiras No 1: Modinha (Preludio) 4.00 out of 5 stars CD
Review:

New York Philharmonic Orchestra (Stadium S.O.) cond. Leopold Stokowski

1938 Bachianas Brasileiras No 5 4.00 out of 5 stars LP
Villa-Lobos Review:
Netania Davrath - Soprano

New York Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Leonard Bernstein

1945 Bachianas Brasileiras No 9 4.00 out of 5 stars CD
Review:

Lontano cond. Odaline de la Martinez

1948 Fantasia for Soprano saxophone, 3 Horns and String Orchestra 4.0 stars  LP
Villa-Lobos saxophone Comments:
Eugène Rousseau - Saxophone
Orchestre de Chambre Paul Kuentz cond. Paul Kuentz

1951 Guitar Concerto 4.0 stars 3 CD
Villa-Lobos Bachianos Review:

Angel Romero - Guitar
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Jésus Lopez-Cobos

Compilation Piano Works 4.0 stars LP
Villa-Lobos Piano Comments:
Suite Floral Opus 97 (1916-1918)
Carnaval das Crianças (1919-1920)*
A Lendo do Caboclo (1920)
A Fiandeira (1921)
Rudepoema (1921-1926)
New York Skyline (1940)

Roberto Szidon - Piano
* Richard Metzler - Piano

Compilation Bachianas Brasileiras 4.0 stars LP
Villa-Lobos Bachianos Comments:
No. 2 for Orchestra (1933)
No. 5 For Soprano and Eight Cellos (1938)
No. 6 For Flute and Bassoon (1938)
No. 9 For Choir and String Orchestra (1944)

Victoria de Los Angeles - Soprano
L'Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Francaise cond. Heitor Villa-Lobos

Compilation Bachianas Brasileiras (Complete) 4.0 stars 3 CD
Villa-Lobos Bachianos Comments:
Solists
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Enrique Batiz