Heitor Villa-Lobos Five Preludes for Guitar with sheet music download.
(born March 5, 1887, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—died November 17, 1959, Rio de Janeiro), Brazilian composer and one of the foremost Latin American composers of the 20th century, whose music combines indigenous melodic and rhythmic elements with Western classical music.
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Villa-Lobos’s father was a librarian and an amateur musician. Under the influence of his father’s weekly musical get-togethers, the boy became interested in music. He learned to play cello (actually a modified viola) at age six and was inspired by music from Johann Sebastian Bach’s A Well-Tempered Clavier that was given to him by an aunt. While traveling with his family to various regions of the vast country, he also developed an interest in native Brazilian folk music.
When they returned to Rio de Janeiro, Villa-Lobos began associating and performing with the city’s popular musicians. He learned to play the guitar. He left home at age 18 because his widowed mother opposed his “delinquent” friends and wanted him to become a doctor. Instead, he became a musical vagabond, playing cello and guitar to support himself while traveling throughout the states of Espírito Santo, Bahia, and Pernambuco, absorbing Brazilian folk music and composing his own pieces.
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During this period Villa-Lobos enrolled briefly at the Instituto Nacional de Música in Rio de Janeiro, but he was to continue his travels for three years. He returned to the city with a large group of manuscripts and an intimate knowledge of the Afro-Brazilian music of the country’s northern and northeastern regions. He began a serious study of the works of Bach, Richard Wagner, and Giacomo Puccini, whose influence can be noted in his compositions.
In 1915 a concert in Rio de Janeiro featured his compositions, and his career was given a vital boost that same year when the firm of Artur Napoleão began publishing his music. Although many critics initially attacked the dissonance and modernity of his work, he persisted in his efforts to merge Western music and the Brazilian vernacular tradition.
In 1919 he met the pianist Artur Rubinstein, who helped advance Villa-Lobos’s reputation by playing his music in concerts throughout the world. He composed ceaselessly (about 2,000 works are credited to him in all), and by the time of his first trip to Europe in 1923 he had produced a long list of compositions in every form, from solo pieces for guitar to trios, quartets, concerti, vocal music, and symphonies.
The success of his first trip—he made Paris his home base for the remainder of the 1920s—encouraged him to organize and perform in a number of concerts; during this period he published more of his work and solidified an international reputation.
In Brazil for a performance in 1930, Villa-Lobos presented a plan for music education in the São Paulo school system and was appointed director of music education there. In 1932 he took charge of music education throughout Brazil. He established a conservatory for choral singing in 1942 and, with fellow composer Oscar Lorenzo Fernandez, cofounded the Brazilian Academy of Music in 1945. Between 1944 and 1949 he traveled widely in the United States and Europe, where he wrote music for several films, received many honours, and was much in demand as a conductor.
As mentioned above, Villa-Lobos’s works are characterized by a singular blend of Western classical music and Brazilian folk songs and rhythms. One of his best-known works is Bachianas brasileiras (written 1930–45), a set of nine pieces for various instrumental and vocal groups, in which a contrapuntal technique in the manner of Bach is applied to themes of Brazilian origin.
A similar series of 14 works, composed between 1920 and 1929, bears the generic title Chôros (the choro is a Brazilian country dance). Each of his 12 symphonies alludes to a historic event or place. Among his many other works are two cello concerti (1915, 1955), Momoprecoce for piano and orchestra (1929), Guitar Concerto (1951), Harp Concerto (1953), Harmonica Concerto (1955), 16 string quartets, Rudepoema for piano solo (1926; orchestrated 1942), and the symphonic poems Uirapurú (1917), Amazonas (1929), and Dawn in a Tropical Forest (1954).
See at the Wikipedia: List of compositions by Heitor Villa-Lobos
His earliest pieces originated in guitar improvisations, for example Panqueca (Pancake) of 1900. The concert series of 1915–21 included first performances of pieces demonstrating originality and virtuosic technique. Some of these pieces are early examples of elements of importance throughout his œuvre. His attachment to the Iberian Peninsula is demonstrated in Canção Ibéria of 1914 and in orchestral transcriptions of some of Enrique Granados‘ piano Goyescas (1918, now lost).
Other themes that were to recur in his later work include the anguish and despair of the piece Desesperança— Sonata Phantastica e Capricciosa no. 1 (1915), a violin sonata including “histrionic and violently contrasting emotions”, the birds of L’oiseau blessé d’une flèche (1913), the mother–child relationship (not usually a happy one in Villa-Lobos’s music) in Les mères of 1914, and the flowers of Suíte floral for piano of 1916–18 which reappeared in Distribuição de flores for flute and [classical guitar]] of 1937.
Reconciling European tradition and Brazilian influences was also an element that bore fruit more formally later. His earliest published work Pequena suíte for ‘cello and piano of 1913 shows a love for the ‘cello, but is not notably Brazilian, although it contains elements that were to resurface later. His three-movement Suíte graciosa of 1915 (expanded to six movements c. 1947 to become his String Quartet No. 1) is influenced by European opera, while Três danças características (africanas e indígenas) of 1914–16 for piano, later arranged for octet and subsequently orchestrated, is radically influenced by the tribal music of the Caripunas Indians of Mato Grosso.
With his tone poems Amazonas (1917, first performed in Paris in 1929) and Uirapurú (1917, first performed 1935) he created works dominated by indigenous Brazilian influences. The works use Brazilian folk tales and characters, imitations of the sounds of the jungle and its fauna, imitations of the sound of the nose-flute by the violinophone, and not least imitations of the uirapuru bird itself.
His meeting with Arthur Rubinstein in 1918 prompted Villa-Lobos to compose piano music such as Simples coletânea of 1919—which was possibly influenced by Rubinstein’s playing of Ravel and Scriabin on his South American tours—and Bailado infernal of 1920. The latter piece includes the tempi and expression markings “vertiginoso e frenético”, “infernal” and “mais vivo ainda” (faster still).
Carnaval das crianças of 1919–20 saw Villa-Lobos’s mature style emerge; unconstrained by the use of traditional formulae or any requirement for dramatic tension, the piece at times imitates a mouth organ, children’s dances, a harlequinade, and ends with an impression of the carnival parade. This work was orchestrated in 1929 with new linking passages and a new title, Momoprecoce. Naïveté and innocence is also heard in the piano suites A Prole do Bebê (The Baby’s Family) of 1918–21.
Around this time he also fused urban Brazilian influences and impressions, for example in his Quarteto simbólico of 1921. He included the urban street music of the chorões, who were groups containing flute, clarinet and cavaquinho (a Brazilian guitar), and often also including ophicleide, trombones or percussion. Villa-Lobos occasionally joined such bands.
Early works showing this influence were incorporated into the Suíte popular brasileira of 1908–12 assembled by his publisher, and more mature works include the Sexteto místico (c.1955, replacing a lost and probably unfinished one begun in 1917), and his setting of the poetry of Mário de Andrade and Catulo da Paxão Cearense in the Canções típicas brasileiras of 1919. His classical guitar studies are also influenced by the music of the chorões.
All the elements mentioned so far are fused in Villa-Lobos’s Nonet. Subtitled Impressão rápida do todo o Brasil (A Brief Impression of the Whole of Brazil), the title of the work denotes it as ostensibly chamber music, but it is scored for flute/piccolo, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, celesta, harp, piano, a large percussion battery requiring at least two players, and a mixed chorus.
In Paris, his musical vocabulary established, Villa-Lobos solved the problem of his works’ form. It was perceived as an incongruity that his Brazilian impressionism should be expressed in the form of quartets and sonatas. He developed new forms to free his imagination from the constraints of conventional musical development such as that required in sonata form. The multi-sectional poema form may be seen in the Suite for Voice and Violin, which is somewhat like a triptych, and the Poema da criança e sua mamã for voice, flute, clarinet, and cello (1923).
The extended Rudepoêma for piano, written for Rubinstein, is a multi-layered work, often requiring notation on several staves, and is both experimental and demanding. Wright calls it “the most impressive result” of this formal development. The Ciranda, or Cirandinha is a stylised treatment of simple Brazilian folk melodies in a wide variety of moods. A ciranda is a child’s singing game, but Villa-Lobos’s treatment in the works he gave this title are sophisticated.
Another form was the Chôros. Villa-Lobos composed more than a dozen works with this title for various instruments, mostly in the years 1924–1929. He described them as “a new form of musical composition”, a transformation of the Brazilian music and sounds “by the personality of the composer”.
He also composed between 1930 and 1945 nine pieces he called Bachianas Brasileiras (Brazilian Bachian pieces). These take the forms and nationalism of the Chôros, and add the composer’s love of Bach. He incorporated neoclassicism in his nationalistic style. Villa-Lobos’s use of archaisms was not new (an early example is his Pequena suíte for cello and piano of 1913). The pieces evolved over the period rather than being conceived as a whole, some of them being revised or added to.
They contain some of his most popular music, such as No. 5 for soprano and eight cellos (1938–1945), and No. 2 for orchestra of 1930 (the Tocata movement of which is O trenzinho do caipira, “The little train of the Caipira”). They also show the composer’s love for the tonal qualities of the cello, both No. 1 and No. 5 being scored for no other instruments. In these works the often harsh dissonances of his earlier music are less evident: or, as Simon Wright puts it, they are “sweetened”.
The transformation of Chôros into Bachianas Brasileiras is demonstrated clearly by the comparison of No. 6 for flute and bassoon with the earlier Chôros No. 2 for flute and clarinet.
The dissonances of the later piece are more controlled, the forward direction of the music easier to discern. Bachianas Brasileiras No. 9 takes the concept so far as to be an abstract Prelude and Fugue, a complete distillation of the composer’s national influences. Villa-Lobos eventually recorded all nine of these works for EMI in Paris, mostly with the musicians of the French National Orchestra; these were originally issued on LPs and later reissued on CDs. He also recorded the first section of Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 with Bidu Sayão and a group of cellists for Columbia.
During his period at SEMA, Villa-Lobos composed five string quartets, nos. 5 to 9, which explored avenues opened by his public music that dominated his output. He also wrote more music for Segovia, the Cinq préludes, which also demonstrate a further formalisation of his composition style. After the fall of the Vargas government, Villa-Lobos returned full-time to composition, resuming a prolific rate of completing works. His concertos—particularly those for the classical guitar, the harp, and the harmonica—are examples of his earlier poema form.
The Harp Concerto is a large work, and shows a new propensity to focus on a small detail, then to fade it and bring another detail to the foreground. This technique also occurs in his final opera, Yerma, which contains a series of scenes each of which establishes an atmosphere, similarly to the earlier Momoprecoce.
Villa-Lobos’s final major work was the music for the film Green Mansions (though in the end, most of his score was replaced with music by Bronislaw Kaper) and its arrangement as Floresta do Amazonas for orchestra, as well as some short songs issued separately. In 1957, he wrote a Seventeenth String Quartet, whose austerity of technique and emotional intensity “provide a eulogy to his craft”. His Bendita Sabedoria, a sequence of a cappella chorales written in 1958, is a similarly simple setting of Latin biblical texts. These works lack the pictorialism of his more public music.
Except for the lost works, the Nonet, the two concerted works for violin and orchestra, Suite for Piano and Orchestra, a number of the symphonic poems, most of his choral music and all of the operas, his music is well represented on the world’s recital and concert stages and on CD.
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