Works - Choros

February 14, 2008: See this Villa-Lobos Magazine post on a new Choros series coming from BIS.

In his article "Redating the Choros of Villa-Lobos", Luis Fernando Lopes suggests that a number of the works in the Choros series - #6, 9, 11, and 12 - were not written in the modernist period of the 1920s, but in the nationalistic period of the 30s and early 40s. Lopes also feels that the lost Choros scores #13 and #14 "... likely never progressed beyond a couple of surviving excerpts and verbal descriptions..."

In any case, this series contains some of Villa-Lobos's greatest works.


No. 1 for guitar (1920) - Max Eschig


  Collected Works For Solo Guitar By Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959). Guitar solo book for guitar. 95 pages. Published by Durand. (HL.50560932)

No. 2 for flute & clarinet (1924) - Max Eschig

Eero Tarasti brings up the possibility of the influence of Edgard Varese, a close friend of Villa-Lobos' during his stay in Paris. Other European influences that come up in Tarasti's analysis (p. 91-95 of his Heitor Villa-Lobos, 1995) are Debussy and Stravinsky.


Choros No. 2 - sheet music at
Choros No. 2 For Flute & Clarinet. By Hector Villa-Lobos. Editions Durand. 8 pages. Published by Editions Durand. (50561690)

No. 3 for male chorus & wind instruments (1925) - Max Eschig

Guess Who?Subtitled "Pica-Pau" [woodpecker].

Oswald de AndradeVilla-Lobos also dedicated the work to Oswald de Andrade (1890-1954) - one of Brazil's greatest writers - and his wife, painter Tarsila do Amaral (1897-1973.)

One of the themes is borrowed from an Indian song melody, a drinking song of the Parecis Indians. As Villa-Lobos scholar Gerard Behague points out, this is a rare case of Villa-Lobos using an actual Indian song in one of his pieces.


  • Male chorus (2 tenor, baritone, bass)
  • clarinet
  • alto saxophone
  • trombone
  • bassoon
  • 3 French horns


  Choros No. 3 Tenor Chorus Parts. By Hector Villa-Lobos. (CHORUS 10PAK). Editions Durand. Book only. 7 pages. Published by Max Eschig. (50562088)

No. 4 for 3 horns & trombone (1926) - Max Eschig

A work that definitely enriches the world's literature for 3 horns and trombone....

'It is perhaps, among the Choros, the most meaningful for its form and significance.'' - Villa-Lobos, quoted in Augusto, Antonio, "The Brazilian Repertoire for Horn," The Horn Call - Journal of the International Horn Society 28:2 (February 1998) p. 23-27



No. 5 for piano (1925) "Alma Brasileira" - Max Eschig

Dedicated to Villa-Lobos' benefactor Arnaldo Guinle.


The Piano Music Of Heitor Villa-Lobos - sheet music at
The Piano Music Of Heitor Villa-Lobos By Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959). Collection for solo piano. Music For Millions: Volume 62. 166 pages. Published by Amsco. (MS.AM41732)

No. 6 for orchestra (1926) - Max Eschig


piccolo 2 flutes 2 oboes English horn
clarinet bass clarinet 2 bassoons contrabassoon
4 horns 3 trumpets 4 trombones tuba
timpani tam-tam saxophone xylophone
bells cymbals bass drum celesta
2 harps strings tartaruga camisao grande
cuica reco-reco tambu tambi
tamborim roncador chocalhos tamborim de samba


No. 7 for winds, violin & cello (1924) - Max Eschig



flute oboe cello clarinet
alto saxophone bassoon tam-tam violin


No. 8 for large orchestra & 2 pianos (1925)



piccolo 2 flutes 2 oboes English horn
4 clarinets bass clarinet saxophone 2 bassoons
contrabassoon 4 horns 4 trumpets 3 trombones
tuba timpani tam-tam xylophone
triangle bombo cymbals tambor de campo
caixa chocalhos de metal caracaxa nuita
matraca celesta 2 harps strings



No. 9 for orchestra (1929) - Max Eschig


Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, eng horn, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns,
4 trumpets, 4 trombones, tuba, timpani, tam-tam, bombo, tambor, tambor surdo, camisao (large and small), pio, triangle, reco, tartaruga, cax, cho (metal and wood), xylophone, vibraphone, celesta, 2 harps and strings

Dedicated to Arminda Noves d'Almeida in 1936 Premiere: Rio de Janeiro, Orchestra of the Teatro Municipal; Villa- Lobos, cond; 7/15/1942

No. 10 for chorus & orchestra (1925) "Rasga o Coraçao" - Max Eschig


Villa-Lobos' greatest work?
The subtitle, which means "Rend my heart," comes from a modinha by Catulo da Paixao Cearense (1866-1946). Villa-Lobos quotes a schottische by Anacleto de Medeiros (1866-1907). The quotation caused quite a stir: a plagiarism suite was brought against Villa-Lobos, though it was ultimately dropped. There is another Parecis Indian song used in this Choros (see #3 above) - a "hammock" lullabye.

  Choros No. 10 Choir and orchestra, score. By Hector Villa-Lobos. Editions Durand. 92 pages. Published by Editions Durand. (50561968)

piccolo 2 flutes 2 oboes 2 clarinets
saxophone 2 bassoons contrabassoon 3 horns
2 trumpets 2 trombones 2 timpani tam-tam
tambourine tambor caxambu 2 puitas
surdo drums reco-reco (large & small) chocalhos de metal e de madeira piano
harp strings    

No. 11 for piano & orchestra (1928) - Max Eschig



piccolo 3 flutes 2 oboes English horn
2 clarinets bass clarinet sop. saxophone alt. saxophone
requinta 2 bassoons contrabassoon 4 horns
4 trumpets 4 trombones tuba timpani
tam-tam reco-reco chocalhos xylophone
bells tambor bombo cymbals
tambourine celesta 2 harps strings

A new recording of the Choros no. 11 has just been released by Ondine - ODE 916-2. Pianist Ralf Gothoni (piano) and the Finnish RSO conducted by Sakari Oramo have received rave reviews (here's one from the newsgroup by Harold Lewis.) Until now the standard recording came from the famous May 1958 sessions in Paris, with the composer conducting the Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française.

No. 12 for orchestra (1929) - Max Eschig

Composed in Rio in 1929 (or later - see the note at the top of this page), the work was premiered by the Boston Symphony in 1945.  There's a good modern recording,by the Liège Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Pierre Bartholomée (recorded in 1980, released on CD by Cyprès CYP1623 in 1999).  Read this excellent review by Peter J. Rabinowitch on, which starts off as a put-down of the work, but ends in real appreciation:

"'s hard not to appreciate, even admire, Villa-Lobos's self-confident resistance to the reined-in intellectualism of so many of his European contemporaries."




2 piccolos 3 flutes 3 oboes English horn
3 clarinets bass clarinet 2 saxophones 3 bassoons
contrabassoon 8 horns 4 trumpets 4 trombones
tuba timpani tam-tam cymbals
cuica bombo xylophone tambor
celesta 2 harps piano strings


No. 13 for 2 orchestras & band (1929)- Score Lost

No. 14 for orchestra, band & chorus (1928) - Score Lost


Choros bis, for violin & cello (1928)



Introduction aux Choros for orchestra & guitar (1929) - Max Eschig



piccolo 2 flutes 2 oboes English horn
2 clarinets bass clarinet saxophone 2 bassoons
contrabassoon 4 horns tuba timpani
tam-tam xylophone celesta 2 harps
piano strings    

A potpourri of themes from the series, written after the series was complete.



1 The bird-song is from the marvellous site Songs of Brazilian Birds, on the Ministério do Meio Ambiente, dos Recursos Hídricos e da Amazônia Legal website. There are two bird-song pages on the site - the English one linked above, and one in Portuguese. The Portuguese version might actually be of more interest to English-speaking Villa-Lobos lovers, since the Portuguese names of the birds were used so often by Villa-Lobos: besides the Araponga-de-barbelas, there are the Pica-pau, the Papagaio, the Surucua, and the Uirapuru - all the subjects of music by Villa-Lobos. Look for a feature coming soon to the Heitor Villa-Lobos Website: Birdsong in the Music of Villa-Lobos.

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