Rudepoema (Piano)

Appleby Catalogue W number: 
Year Composed: 


Villa-Lobos spent the years 1921-26 working on this great piano work in Paris.  According to Prof. Tarasti,

"It is not only the apex of his piano production, but among the most significant works in the entire South American piano literature as well." - Tarasti (1995), p. 259

The work is a portrait of Villa's friend Arthur Rubinstein, and is dedicated to the celebrated pianist.   Rubinstein's entertaining book My Many Years (NY, Knopf, 1980) contains many reminiscences of the early days in Rio de Janeiro.

The inscription on Rubinstein's hand-written score reads:

"Mon sincère et grand ami, je ne sais pas si j'ai pu tout à fait assimilé ton âme avec ce Rudepoême, mais, je le jure de tout mon cœur que j'ai l'impression d'avoir gravé ton temperament, d'apres mon esprit et que machinalement j'ai ecri sur des pentagrama, comme un Kodak intime. Par consequent si c'est reussi, ce sera toujours toi le vrai auteur de cet 'œuvre. Ton Villa-Lobos"

Rudepoema is one of the signature pieces which showcases Canadian pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin's amazing virtuosity.  Here's the first part of a performance:

Part 2 is on YouTube here.

Sonia Rubinsky's performance of Rudepoema (in v. 6 of her Naxos series of the complete piano music) is about scholarship as well as technique: Rubinsky, Sonia, and Heitor Villa-Lobos. 1986. Villa-Lobos' Rudepoema: an analysis. Thesis (D.M.A.)--Juilliard School, 1986.




Villa-Lobos orchestrated the piano work for a large orchestra in 1932 (W310).  "When one compares the piano version of Rudepoema to the orchestral arrangement made by the composer himself, one can only be amazed at how 'orchestral' the piano work already is." - Tarasti (1995), p. 266.


Villa-Lobos, Heitor. 1928. Rudepoêma: pour piano solo. Paris: Éditions Max Eschig.


There's no shortage of virtuoso pianists out there who have the skill, stamina, and courage to play this piece in concert.  There are 35 records in the Villa-Lobos Concerts database as of July 2011.  Currently, pianists Oni Buchanan and Boris Cepeda have each taken Rudepoema out on the road as part of their fall 2008 concert tours.

Piano Works