|Talking about the composer
Heitor Villa-Lobos means talking about Brazil and its music, since he was
able to bring out the folklore and tradition of his country, and to become
s sort of an artisan of the Brazilian music.
Villa-Lobos was born in Rio in 1887. While his mother, Noemia, was native, his father, Raul, was a Spanish extraction, and taught the son not only to play cello and clarinet, but also to love music and musical composition. Apart from that, the composer was autodidact. As he said: “ Mon premier traité d'harmonic fut carte du Brésil”, and indeed he learnt a great deal travelling in his country. he was able to combine classical rules and folklore in a well-known 'cocktail”, which was always his particular, unique style.
Only fourteen, he started composing for some folk groups, and at the same time he became a good guitarist.
In 1905, at the age of 18, he set out on a dangerous journey through Amazon, to get closer to the primitive songs and the rhythm of the forest. This experience, which contributed in a massive way to his original education, explains the fascination of his melodies and themes, in which one can easily find the influence of Wagner, Puccini and, of course, of Vincent d'Indy, who taught him musical composition. Not to forget Debussy and Strawinsky.
In 1915 he made his official debut as a composer in freiburg and Rio. But his original style, quite unusual for the official culture, was neither understood nor appreciated. the failure sharpened the composer's determination, and finally, with the composition for ballet Amazonas and Virapuru, came the recognition of his new way to conceive the rhythm and the orchestra. The artist's creativity expressed itself in concertos, sonatas, trios and quartets. From 1916 to 1920 he wrote five symphonies. Three of them testify historical events of great importance: the third symphony is titled “The War”, the fourth “The Victory”; the fifth “The Peace”.
After this apprenticeship, Villa Lobos tried to “conquer” Paris, the avant-gard capital, and in 1923
became his second homeland. He was in London, Vienna, Berlin: everywhere
his music was applauded. Of great importance was his friendship with Arthur
Rubinstein, who introduced him not only to the editor Max Eschig, the first
to publish Villa-Lobos' music, but also to Picasso, Varese, Stokowski,
Schmitt and many other artists. The composer found his right place
in the cultural world, and remained particularly open to all the
musical innovations of this time. He would sit with other artists in the
Parisian café, smoking his Havana cigar, with the great charm of
his outgoing personality. This prolific artist's catalogue is made up of
1300 works: in particular he composed 16 symphonic poems, 17 ballets and
many other works for instrumental ensembles. After his European parenthesis
he came back to Brazil, where, from 1931, he was entrusted with important
educational tasks and with the organisation of concerts and concert seasons.
After founding a conservatoire in 1942, in 1946 he founded the Brasilian
Academy of Music, which he run until his death.
I 1944 he turned again to symphonies: the twelfth one was ended in 1957.
In the Fifties he came back to Paris 1944 he turned again to symphonies: the twelfth one was ended in 1957.
In the Fifties he came back to Paris, where he successfully conducted his compositions. In 1952 was integrally performed the work “The Discovery of Brazil” with the French National Broadcasting Orchestra as a special tribute to him. Paris became once again his second homeland, and there he went on composing his quartets, trios and chamber music. particularly important is also the series “Q Bechianas brasileira”, where he tries to find the perfect combination between Bach's counterpoint and folk melodies. Villa-Lobos died in 1959 at the age of 72 in Rio de Janeiro. His compositions stand out in the history of music as the perfect fusion between the European and South American culture.
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