Heitor Villa-Lobos was born on 5th March 1887 in Rio de Janeiro. His father taught him from the age of 6 to play the cello using a specially adapted viola.
Music filled the Villa-Lobos household and every Saturday, respected musicians of the time would gather there to play until the early hours of the morning. This custom lasted for many years and influenced Villa-Lobos’ musical development decisively.
Tuhú (his childhood name) became fascinated with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, which resulted in the later composition of the nine “Bachianas Brasileiras”.
Another early influence was the Brazilian folk song or modas caipiras. These songs became widely known thanks to his work and his close ties to the chorões (the street groups who performed these songs at carnivals and parties) led him to study the guitar. This in turn led to the creation of a new form and the composition of a series of works called choros, which melded traditional Brazilian urban music with modern composition techniques.
Villa-Lobos traveled widely in Brazil and in Europe, gaining international prestige during his stay in Paris where he conducted his compositions and performed his works in recital. On his return to Rio de Janeiro in 1924, the poet Manuel Bandeira wrote:
“Villa-Lobos has just returned from Paris. You expect whoever has just returned from Paris to be full of Paris. However, Villa-Lobos has come back full of Villa-Lobos.”
Heitor Villa -lobos was an active music educator and organised and conducted mass choral performances involving voices form every social class in São Paulo and as many as 40,000 school chidren
His international renown was complete in 1944 with his first tour of America, after which he made regular trips conducting his works and receiving awards
Heitor Villa-lobos and Felicja Blumental
In October 1954 Felicja Blumental was the soloist at a concert celebrating the anniversary of the City Of São Paulo, which was conducted by Villa-Lobos. On this occasion, Felicja Blumental played Bachianas Brasileiras No. 3.
Villa-Lobos was so impressed with Felicja Blumental’s performance that he promised to write a piano concerto for her. The fifth is dedicated to her and received its world premiere at the Royal Festival Hall in London, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra on May 8, 1955. (Use photo marked 14)
On 25th May 1955, the concerto was recorded at a live performance with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra conducted by Villa-lobos at the Musikverein in Vienna.
A typical Felicja Blumental recital would present both more and less familiar works. A program given at the Anglo-Brazilian Society in London on November 15th, 1949 included Handel and Beethoven. The second half was devoted to the music of Brazil, and included Villa-Lobos’ Garibaldi foi a Missa and his Dança do Indio Branco, as well as Francisco Mignone’s Serenata Humoristica. And Camargo Guarnieri’s Dança Brasileira.
Heitor Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 3,
for piano and orchestra.
Villa-Lobos wrote nine Bachianas Brasileiras, each one a sa tribute to the music of JS Bach, about whom the composer was fascinated from childhood. The third, for Piano and Orchestra is one of the most ambitious of the whole series