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Heitor Villa-Lobos

Heitor Villa-Lobos

Country of origin: Brazil
Birthday: March 5, 1887
Date of death: November 17, 1959

About Heitor Villa-Lobos

The composer was born in Rio de Janeiro on 5 March 1887 as second of eight children of the teacher and later librarian Raul Villa-Lobos. At the age of six, he received his first music lessons from his father. Due to family trips into the interior of the country, he very early came into contact with Brazilian folklore. After the early death of his father, he worked as a cello player in coffee houses and at small theatres. His first compositions were created around 1900.
In 1923, Villa-Lobos spent one year on a national scholarship in Paris where he gained new important impressions, and after his return to his home country he wrote some of his most important works. From 1927 to 1930 he spent again a few years in Paris. During that time, he was the first Latin American composer to gain international fame.
After his return to Brazil, Villa-Lobos formulated plans for music teaching on behalf of the government. Thus began his career as an outstanding music teacher who had a lasting influence on the music education of his country.
With his first visit to the USA in 1944 for a concert with the Janssen Symphony Orchestra, he continued to increase his international fame. From then on until his death, he stayed repeatedly in the USA where he appeared as a guest conductor with the most renowned orchestras. Major part of his works was recorded after 1944.
Villa-Lobos died at his birthplace Rio de Janeiro on 17 November 1959, following a long illness.
Heitor Villa-Lobos is regarded as the most important and internationally most successful composer of Latin America. His comprehensive oeuvre combines traditional Brazilian and European art music in a many-faceted way.
His comprehensive oeuvre includes operas, orchestral music, chamber music and vocal music. He wrote twelve symphonies, five piano concertos, two cello concertos, one guitar, harp and harmonica concerto each, 17 string quartets and three piano trios, among others. His works for guitar form part of the standard repertoire for soloists on this instrument.
His most famous and most successful works are the 14 Choros and nine Bachianas Brasileiras for various instrumentations which clearly manifest the inspiration through Brazilian folklore. In the Bachianas Brasileiras, Villa-Lobos made Brazilian folk tunes into suites in the polyphonic style of Johann Sebastian Bach who had been one of his most important musical examples from his youth. Less known are the works that are more in the European tradition and are reminiscent of musical examples from Romanticism, Impressionism and neoclassicism.