Vargas, Getúlio (Dorneles) (1883-1954)

Vargas PictureGetúlio Vargas - President and dictator of Brazil, 1930-1945 and 1951-1954.  Vargas' at first relatively benign dictatorship was based on populist and social reform ideas combined with very strong nationalist ideas current in Europe at the same time. The first Vargas era saw Villa-Lobos at home in Brazil, between his first Paris trips of the 20's and his global wanderings after WWII. Villa-Lobos participated fully in the re-invention of Brazil through his popular music education and massed choral patriotic spectacles. [pictured to the left: the stern Vargas on the left, with Villa-Lobos, from the Museu Villa-Lobos]

Controversy about the Vargas era continues today.  Though the abuses of his regime were not on the same scale as those of contemporary European dictators, the populist promise of the 1930 revolution was badly compromised by Mussolini- and Salazar-inspired repression.  Villa-Lobos's grand scheme for music education played a key role in Vargas's nation-building at the same time that increasing state-sponsored violence against the regime's enemies turned Brazil towards fascism.  Villa's involvement in the Vargas regime is one major flaw in a generally very appealing and otherwise progressive character.

See the post State Music & Dictatorship, at The Villa-Lobos Magazine.  

One of the best texts on Villa's relationship with Vargas is Diploma of whiteness: race and social policy in Brazil, 1917-1945, by Jerry Dávila:

"Nationalist, disciplinary, and pedagogically modern, Villa-Lobos's musical education program bridged both the educational aspirations of progressives like Teixeira and the authoritarian vision of the Estado Novo." - p. 164

This portion of Dávila's table of Nationalist Musical Assemblies shows the enormous scope of the Teixeira/Villa-Lobos programme of musical education:


A web notice about a thesis by Analía Cherñavsky entitled "Um maestro no gabinete: Música e Política no tempo de Villa-Lobos" includes some interesting information about a kind of "revision" of Villa-Lobos biography that looks honestly at Villa's relationship with Vargas's Estado Novo.  Villa-Lobos was far from a doctrinaire belilever in Vargas's politics, though.  Cherñavsky observes: "Entre Villa-Lobos e Getúlio ocorria uma espécie de relação de negócios ou relação de trocas, onde ambas as partes agiam como parceiras" - "Between Villa-Lobos and Getulio occurred a sort of business relationship or terms of trade, where both parties were acting as partners."