Works of Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras

Works of Villa-Lobos
Bachianas Brasileiras

 
The cycle of nine Bachianas Brasileiras contain some of Villa-Lobos' most popular music.  The works pay homage to the music of Bach and the folkloric music of Brazil.  Each movement in the series has a Brazilian title (Ponteieo, Martelo, Modinha) and a European one (Prelude, Fugue, Aria).
 

#1 

No. 1 for "an orchestra of cellos" (1930) - Associated Music Publishers (AMP)

Walter Burle MarxPremiere: September 12, 1932, by the Philharmonia Orchestra of Rio de Janeiro, conducted by Walter Burle Marx

The movements: 

1. Introduction - Embolada 
2. Prelude - Modinha 
3. Fugue - Conversa 

Lisa Peppercorn lists the composition dates for BB#1 as 1930-32 and 1936-38.  She says: "I believe that the first movement was written only between 1936 and 1938, because until 1936 only the last two movements were ever performed.  The first performance of the complete work was given in 1938." 1 
 
 

No. 2 for chamber orchestra (1930-31) - G. Ricordi

Orchestration:
 
flute
oboe
clarinet
tenor saxophone
contrabassoon
bassoon
2 trumpets
horn
timpani
chocalhos
reco-reco
triangle
cymbals
ganza
pandeiro
bombo
matraca
celesta
piano
strings
 
 
 There are four movements, orchestrations of earlier works for cello & piano and solo piano: 
 
 
Movement
Original orchestration
Added title
O Canto do Capadocio
cello & piano
Prelude
O Canto da Nossa Terra
cello & piano
Aria
Lembranca do Sertao
piano solo
Dansa
O trenzinho do Caipira
cello & piano
Toccata
 
 

#2

#3

No. 3 for piano and orchestra (1938) - Ricordi

Composed in 1938, this piece was first performed on February 19, 1947, by pianist Jose Vieira Brandao with the CBS orchestra conducted by the composer. 
 

No. 4 for piano (1930-41) - orchestrated in 1941 - Ricordi 

  Villa-Lobos' orchestration of this piece was made in 1941.  He conducted the premiere on July 15, 1942, with the orchestra of the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro.
This piece is best known in its piano version; it's been often, and often well, recorded.  Check out Ricaro Peres' version.  But the orchestral version that Villa-Lobos himself made, in 1941, is quite lovely as well.  It's included, along with the other 8 Bachianas Brasileiras, in the famous French EMI set of orchestral works conducted by Villa-Lobos, and there's also an excellent version conducted by Michael Tilson-Thomas

#4

#5

No. 5 for voice and 8 cellos (1938 and 1945) - AMP

The most famous and popular of Villa-Lobos' works, the Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5 was famously described by Eero Tarasti as a "black box:" 

"There are works about which the researcher can only make this a posteriori remark: The work is so evidently a classic that there remains only the task of analyzing on which factors the composition's position and reputation are based.  Sometimes one can only confirm that the excellence of the classic cannot be indicated through analysis." [Tarasti, Heitor Villa-Lobos, 1995, p. 206.] 

The piece has two movements, written 7 years apart: an Aria  (Cantilena), and a Dansa (Martelo.) 

Portions of the Aria are sung in wordless vocalise, though the central section is sung to words from a poem by Ruth Valadares Correia.  The Dansa has a text by Manuel Bandeira. 
 

No. 6 for flute and bassoon (1938) - AMP

 
 

#6

#7

No. 7 for orchestra (1942) - Max Eschig

Orchestration: 
 
2 flutes 2 oboes 2 clarinets piccolo
English horn bass clarinet 2 bassoons 4 horns
contrabassoon 3 trumpets 4 tombones tuba
timpani tam-tam xylophone coco
strings harp celesta bombo
 
This piece was written in Rio de Janeiro in 1942.  It was first performed in 1944. 
 

No. 8 for orchestra (1944) - Max Eschig

 Orchestration:
 
 
2 flutes
2 oboes
2 clarinets
piccolo
English horn
bass clarinet
2 bassoons
4 horns
contrabassoon
3 trumpets
4 tombones
tuba
timpani
tam-tam
xylophone
madeiras
strings
tarol
celesta
bombo
 
 
This piece was written in Rio de Janeiro in 1944, and first performed (there) in 1947.
 

#8 

#9 

No. 9 for chorus or string orchestra (1944) - Max Eschig

Orchestration: for string orchestra or mixed chorus. 
 
 
1 "Some aspects of Villa-Lobos' principles of composition," in Villa-Lobos: collected studies by L.M. Peppercorn, Aldershot, Scolar Press, p. 15. [return to text]
 

 

 Villa Lobos Home
 
[Home | Music | Life | Features]
 
© 1998  Red Deer Public Library