Heitor Villa-Lobos

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Villa-Lobos, Heitor

(ā`tôr vē`lä-lô`bôs), 1887–1959, Brazilian composer, educated in Brazil but self-taught in composition. He developed an interest in Brazilian folk music, which became the strongest influence on his works. A series of compositions which he called Chôros, ranging from an instrumental solo to an orchestral work, employ a synthesis of the different modes of Brazilian folk and popular music. Outstanding are Chorôs No. 7 (1924), for strings and woodwinds, No. 10 (1926), for orchestra and chorus, and No. 11 (1928; premiere, 1942), for piano and orchestra. He visited Paris (c.1923–26), conducted various orchestras in Europe, and became well known there; but it was not until his music was played at the New York World's Fair (1939–40) that he became known in the United States. In 1932 he was appointed director of musical education in Brazil. He came to the United States (1944–45) to conduct various orchestras in performances of his works. His compositions, including five symphonies, several operas, concertos, chamber music, and songs, number about 2,000. Although these are of uneven quality, his best works, such as Bachiana's brasileira's No. 1 (1930), written in homage to Bach, display great originality and vitality.

Villa-Lobos, Heitor


Born Mar. 5, 1887, in Rio de Janeiro; died there Nov. 17, 1959. Brazilian composer, conductor, folklorist, teacher, and musical and public figure.

Villa-Lobos did not receive a systematic musical education as a child. Later he studied with F. Braga and H. Oswald. Beginning at age 16, he traveled in Brazil, collecting and taking notes on Brazilian musical folklore. An early work— the orchestral suite Suite dos canticos sertanejos (1909— was already distinguished by its folk quality. As the recipient of a governmental stipend, Villa-Lobos completed his musical education in Paris in 1923, where he associated with Ravel and M. de Falla, who influenced his creative work.

Beginning in 1931 the government put Villa-Lobos in complete charge of problems of musical education in Brazil. He founded music schools and choral groups in many Brazilian cities and created an orderly system of musical education for children. (He placed great emphasis on choral singing.) In 1942, Villa-Lobos organized the National Conservatory of Choral Singing. On his initiative the Brazilian Academy of Music was opened in Rio de Janeiro in 1945. (Villa-Lobos was its permanent president.) He gave many concerts, conducting orchestras in his native land as well as abroad.

The creative work of Villa-Lobos is profoundly nationalistic; in his works the composer generalized the typical traits of folk art. A vivid example of music created on the basis of folklore is provided by his 14 Choros (1920-29).

Villa-Lobos composed operas, ballets, 12 symphonies, symphonic poems, a cycle of nine suites entitled Bachianas brasileiras (1930-44), and 17 quartets. Among his works are concertos for piano, cello, guitar, and harp; piano suites from three cycles entitledPro/? do bebe (1918, 1921, and 1926), the Ciranda piano cycle (1926), and various instrumental pieces.


Shneerson, G. “Pamiati Villa-Lobosa.” Sovetskaia muzyka, 1960, no. 3, pp. 184-85.
Pichugin, P. “Eitor Villa-Lobos.” Sovetskaia muzyka, 1962, no. 5, pp. 125-33.
Estrela, A. “Brazil’skaia muzyka.” In the collection Braziliia. Moscow, 1963. Pages 351-85.
Mariz, V. Heitor Villa-Lobos. Rio de Janeiro, 1949.
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