Welcome to the Heitor Villa-Lobos Website; presented by the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University

The Latin American Music Center is pleased to announce the new release of a website dedicated to the life and music of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos.

villalobos.iu.edu aims to provide a broad audience with basic and specialized information about the composer’s life, music, recordings, and past and future performances of his music, as well as more detailed and in-depth guides to musicological research and scholarship.

Who is Heitor Villa-Lobos?

Heitor Villa-Lobos (March 5, 1887 – November 17, 1959) was a Brazilian composer, described as "the single most significant creative figure in 20th-century Brazilian art music".  Villa-Lobos has become the best-known and most significant Latin American composer to date.  He wrote numerous orchestral, chamber, instrumental and vocal works. His music was influenced by both Brazilian folk music and by stylistic elements from the European classical tradition, as exemplified by his Bachianas Brasileiras (Brazilian Bachian-pieces). -Wikipedia Page

Scholarship on Villa-Lobos by Oxford University Press

Oxford University Press has two books out that should appeal both to Villa-Lobos’s scholars and the general public interested in the composer.

The first is Simon Wright’s Villa-Lobos, a concise life and works study first published in 1992 but long since out of print.  It is available once again, and visitors to the Heitor Villa-Lobos Website are welcome to take advantage of the 30% online discount code, available until June 30, 2014.  Wright’s book draws on his extensive work on Villa-Lobos, reflected in a variety of articles as well as an entire academic career devoted to the composer, including his Ph.D. dissertation in musicology titled "Villa-Lobos and His Position in Brazilian Music After 1930" (University of Wales, Cardiff, 1986).

The second is Carol A. Hess’s Representing the Good Neighbor: Music, Difference, and the Pan American Dream, which appeared in 2013 and whose central chapters discuss the U.S. reception of Carlos Chávez, Alberto Ginastera, and Heitor Villa-Lobos.  The Brazilian composer is the main subject of chapter four, “Caliban and Unsublimated Primitivism: Villa-Lobos at the 1929 World’s Fair.”  Besides making several appearances throughout the book, Villa-Lobos figures prominently in chapter five, “The Golden Age: The Pan Americanist Culture, War, and the Triumph of Universalism.”

In addition to being written by two professional musicologists and published by OUP, both books are based on solid scholarship and are a pleasure to read.

Simon Wright, "Villa-Lobos" (30% Online Dicount) Carol A. Hess, "Representing the Good Neighbor" (Cover Page)

 

May 9, 2014

BBC Symphony Orchestra's "Total Immersion" event in London

The BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Barbican have joined forces for a most impressive series of “Total Immersion” events in London focusing on Villa-Lobos.  All events took place on Saturday, March 8, 2014, for a full day of talks and concerts, including a film screening and a community outreach project inspired by the composer’s music.  In addition to the BBC SO conducted by Sakari Oramo, the same concert featured the BBC Symphony Chorus, pianists Martin Roscoe and Kathryn Stott, and soprano Anu Komsu.  Londoners also had the opportunity of hearing musicians from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in chamber selections and the BBC Singers conducted by Celso Antunes, among other performers and ensembles.  Noted Villa-Lobos scholar Simon Wright gave two talks, one introducing the music of Villa-Lobos and the other as a prelude to Humberto Mauro’s 1936 film Descobrimento do Brasil.  In this BBC Radio 3 video and this extended BBC Radio 3 clip from the "Music Matters" program, presenter Tom Service provides an overview of the event, while guitarist John Williams and the aforementioned Celso Antunes, Sakari Oramo, and Simon Wright discuss the composer and his music in context.

Some of the works performed included Bachianas brasileiras Nos. 5 and 9, Choros Nos. 8 and 10, Symphony No. 9, a selection from O Descobrimento do Brasil, Quinteto em forma de choros, Quinteto instrumental, Duas lendas ameríndias em nheengatu, and Bendita sabedoria, among many others.  As Tom Service remarked in his music blog at The Guardian, "Villa-Lobos's output is so gigantic that anything apart from about a month of total immersion couldn't get you close to his real achievement as a musician. "  But the "Total Immersion: Villa-Lobos" event went considerably beyond scratching the surface and was a unique opportunity to explore in one single day the variety of styles he embraced throughout his career, as well as his kaleidoscopic approaches to different genres, instruments, and voices.  Check out the Calendar section for more details.

The Total Immersion concerts were largely well received by London critics Simon Broughton (the arts desk.com) Andrew Clements (The Guardian), Richard Fairman (Financial Standard), Ivan Hewett (The Telegraph), Nick Kimberley (London Evening Standard), and Richard Whitehouse (The Classical Source).  Referring to the orchestral performance conducted by Sakari Oramo, Kimberley concluded his review by stating, “Perhaps this concert signals a Villa-Lobos revival.”

Musical selections from the Total Immersion concerts were broadcast by BBC Radio 3 as part of its "Afternoon on 3" program on March 18-20, 2014, at 10 a.m. EST (2 p.m. London time).  The complete three episodes were available for seven days after each initial broadcast.  An additional fourth episode with chamber and vocal selections performed by the Guildhall New Music Ensemble was broadcast on April 4, 2014, and will also be available in full for seven days afterwards.  

 March 7, 2014 (w/ updates)

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Camerata Latino Americana Presentation - Villa Lobos, Danças Características Africanas (rehearsal)

The Camerata Latino Americana directed by Simone Menezes is a group of musicians specializing in the Brazilian and Latin American repertoires.  In this video they rehearse Villa-Lobos’s Danças características africanas for a project that promises to result in the world première recording of this work's chamber ensemble version.  Although originally written for solo piano and also existing in a version for orchestra, it was the chamber version of the Danças características africanas that was featured in the opening concert of the epochal 1922 Week of Modern Art in São Paulo.  The score they are using in this video was commissioned by the Museu Villa-Lobos in 2010 from a manuscript housed at the Biblioteca Alberto Nepomuceno from the Escola de Música da U.F.R.J., as the version for small ensemble had never been published before.

March 4, 2014

 

Unusual Instruments in Villa-Lobos music

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Leonard Bernstein's notes about Unusual Instruments in Villa-Lobos's music, from his Young People's Concerts episode The Latin American Spirit, broadcast on CBS Television. There's more about this at The Villa-Lobos Magazine. This is from The Library of Congress website.

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