"Lorenzo Fernandez is dead"

A story told by George Hufsmith, pupil of Villa-Lobos, as told to Eric Wenstrom.

It was fifth floor of the New Weston Hotel.  There were friends of Villa-Lobos all over the place.  He loved to have people around while he was writing.  I can't think when people are around, but he seemed to luxuriate in it.  He had no problem in writing with all sorts of conversations going on at the same time.  Olga Coelho was there with her guitar.  Olga Coelho as everyone knows was a very fine Brazilian singer and guitarist, a woman who was a very good friend of both Villa-Lobos and his wife.  Bernado Segal was there also.

All of a sudden, the doorbell rang.  Arminda went to the door and picked up a telegram, and she came inside shut the door, gave the guy a tip, shut the door, and opened it and read it.  And all of a sudden the tears started pouring down her cheeks.  Everybody looked at her and the place turned silent.  And everybody looked at Arminda and she brought the telegram over to Villa-Lobos and handed it to him, and she said: "Lorenzo Fernandez is dead" in Portuguese.

lorenzo_fernandezVilla-Lobos still had no reaction, as I remember he didn't, he had no reaction.  He reached over and picked the telegram, opened it up and looked at it, and then he lost it.  He gushed tears, sobbed, and asked if Olga Coelho would loan him her guitar.  He picked it up and started to play some music which I thought at the time I recognized as a piece by Lorenzo Fernandez, who was second in line in Brazil along with Camargo Guarnieri,  to be the pinnacle of Brazilian composition.  He started to play a piece  "Tuada Para Voce".   I think he improvised a lot of it,  I don't think he had it memorized, but he knew the melody very well.  

"Tuada Para Voce" means "a tune for you" or "a melody for you".  It was a very, very, lovely thing and a very...there wasn't a dry eye in the whole place, everybody was sobbing, including me.  I knew Lorenzo Fernandez.  Villa-Lobos had introduced me to him in Brazil and I knew him very well. He was a tall Brazilian, which is quite unusual.  He was a tall, good looking, dark kind of person.  He was a very nice, very warm, and very gentle person, and I remember him very well, with a great deal of fondness.  I was also in tears, not only because Lorenzo had died, but because Villa-Lobos was sobbing, he and his wife, and everybody else was  sobbing along with them.  [picture of Oscar Lorenzo Fernandez from the Biblioteca Nacional]

The material presented on this page is kindly provided by Eric Wenstrom.  It is used with the permission of Eric and of George Hufsmith.

Here is a link to string quartets of Lorenzo Fernandez.


And a picture of Lorenzo Fernandez, Brazilian composer; Claude Champagne; Bidu Sayao, Brazilian soprano; Jean Morel, French conductor; Heitor Villa-Lobos. [1946].


Champagne, Villa-Lobos

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