Heitor Villa-lobos (1887-1959)

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
Comments
01Rio De Janeiro: Framing Events *20090914

Donald Macleod explores the cities that were important to Villa-Lobos, focusing on the impact on him of Rio de Janeiro - the place where the composer was born and died.

Introduction to the Choros

Carlos Oramas (guitar)

Orquesta Filarmonica de Gran Canaria

Adrian Leaper (conductor)

SANCTUARY CD DCA 1150 Tr 1

Danca Frenetica

Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra

Roberto Duarte (conductor)

MARCO POLO 8.223552 Tr 1

Rudepoema

Marc-Andre Hamelin (piano)

HYPERION CDA67176 Tr 21

Aria (Bachiana Brasileira No 6)

Erik Gratton (flute)

Cynthia Estill (Bassoon)

NAXOS 8.557460-62 CD2 Tr 7

Magnificat Alleluia

Corydon Singers

Matthew Best (conductor)

HYPERION CDA66638 Tr 20.

Donald Macleod explores the impact of Rio de Janeiro on Villa-Lobos' life and work.

01The Whole Of Brazil20160808

This week, in conversation with Brazilian musicologist Manoel Correa do Lago, Donald Macleod explores the music and life of Brazil's greatest composer, the mercurial Heitor Villa-Lobos. Today, an overview of his huge and diverse musical output.

It's hard to imagine a more Brazilian composer than Heitor Villa-Lobos. His works are suffused with the accents of his native land - the street music of Rio de Janeiro, where he was born in 1887, in the dying years of the monarchy; the rural music he first encountered as a six-year-old, when his father had to hurriedly relocate himself and his young family to the countryside to avoid arrest for criticizing the new government; the Afro-Brazilian folk music he discovered on trips deep into the country's interior, accounts of which he subsequently - and characteristically - embroidered with tall tales of narrow escapes from cannibal cooking pots; and above all, a general sense of the essence of Brazil - its forests, its fauna, its folklore, its traditions. Intertwined with all these influences was Villa-Lobos's deep appreciation of European classical music - at least, selected aspects of it - which he absorbed first from his father, a keen amateur cellist and concert-goer. Bach was an early and abiding passion, thanks, apparently, to a favourite aunt who played him extracts from The Well-Tempered Clavier. Visits by foreign musicians, notably Artur Rubinstein and the Ballets Russes, added Ravel and Debussy to the mix. And in the 1920s he was able to spend several years living and working in Paris, where he was exposed above all to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, his first hearing of which he described as the greatest musical experience of his life. In 1957, two years before his death, he wrote that "Anyone born in Brazil who has formed his conscience in the heart of this land cannot, even if he wishes, imitate the character and manners of other countries." Yet he ended his days disillusioned with the Brazilian musical scene: "I have done all in my power to diffuse musical culture in Brazil, but it is useless. The country is dominated by mediocrity; for each mediocre person that dies, five more are born."

In today's programme, Villa-Lobos's upbringing in Rio; his decidedly nonconformist, split-focus musical education; his work as a cinema musician; his seminal encounter with the pianist Artur Rubinstein, thereafter a lifelong friend and advocate; the importance of Bach; and his journeys into the Brazilian hinterland - one product of which was his extraordinary Nonet, modestly subtitled 'A Brief Impression of the Whole of Brazil'.

Villa-Lobos: Alnitah (As três Marias)

Marc-André Hamelin, piano

Homenagem ao Malandro Carioca (5 Preludes for guitar)

Christoph Denoth, guitar

Moreninha; Caboclinha; Bruxa; Negrinha; Branquinha; A Pobrezinha; Polichinelle (A prole do bebê, No 1)

Artur Rubinstein, piano

Bachianas Brasileiras No 5

Anna Moffo, soprano

Leopold Stokowski, conductor

American Symphony Orchestra

String Quartet No 17 (2nd mvt, Lento)

Cuarteto Latinoamericano

Nonetto (Impressão rápida de todo o Brasil)

Roger Wagner Chorale

Soloists of the Concert Arts Orchestra

Roger Wagner, conductor

Producer: Chris Barstow.

02From Street Corner To Concert Hall20160809

This week, in conversation with Brazilian musicologist Manoel Correa do Lago, Donald Macleod explores the music and life of Brazil's greatest composer, the mercurial Heitor Villa-Lobos. Today, his chôros - works rooted in the street music of Rio.

It's hard to imagine a more Brazilian composer than Heitor Villa-Lobos. His works are suffused with the accents of his native land - the street music of Rio de Janeiro, where he was born in 1887, in the dying years of the monarchy; the rural music he first encountered as a six-year-old, when his father had to hurriedly relocate himself and his young family to the countryside to avoid arrest for criticizing the new government; the Afro-Brazilian folk music he discovered on trips deep into the country's interior, accounts of which he subsequently - and characteristically - embroidered with tall tales of narrow escapes from cannibal cooking pots; and above all, a general sense of the essence of Brazil - its forests, its fauna, its folklore, its traditions. Intertwined with all these influences was Villa-Lobos's deep appreciation of European classical music - at least, selected aspects of it - which he absorbed first from his father, a keen amateur cellist and concert-goer. Bach was an early and abiding passion, thanks, apparently, to a favourite aunt who played him extracts from The Well-Tempered Clavier. Visits by foreign musicians, notably Artur Rubinstein and the Ballets Russes, added Ravel and Debussy to the mix. And in the 1920s he was able to spend several years living and working in Paris, where he was exposed above all to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, his first hearing of which he described as the greatest musical experience of his life. In 1957, two years before his death, he wrote that "Anyone born in Brazil who has formed his conscience in the heart of this land cannot, even if he wishes, imitate the character and manners of other countries." Yet he ended his days disillusioned with the Brazilian musical scene: "I have done all in my power to diffuse musical culture in Brazil, but it is useless. The country is dominated by mediocrity; for each mediocre person that dies, five more are born."

In today's programme, a generous sampling of chôros - a thoroughly disparate but absolutely fascinating group of compositions written during Villa-Lobos's most experimental decade, the 1920s. They range from brief jottings for solo guitar and piano to large-scale works for orchestra, with or without chorus. This is the period of Villa-Lobos's first sojourns in Paris, funded in part by a grant from the Brazilian government but mainly thanks to the generosity of a pair of prominent Brazilian industrialists, the Guinle brothers, whom Artur Rubinstein had smooth-talked into handsomely backing their talented young compatriot. This was Villa-Lobos's first outing on an international stage and he brought it off with extraordinary panache, playing up his 'exoticism' with the flair of a one-man Brazilian musical tourist board.

Villa-Lobos: Chôros No 2

Elizabeth Plunk, flute

Ovanir Buosi, clarinet

Chôros No 1 ('Chôro tipico')

Norbert Kraft, guitar

Chôros No 4

Samuel Hamzem, Dante Yenque, Ozéas Arantes, horns

Darrin Coleman Milling, trombone

Chôros No 7 ('Settiminio'), for flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, violin, cello and offstage tam-tam

Bülent Evcil, flute

Arcádio Minczuk, oboe

Sérgio Burgani, clarinet

Nailor Azevedo (a.k.a. Proveta), alto saxophone

José Arion Linarez, bassoon

Cláudio Cruz, violin

Alceu Reis, cello

Armando Yamada, tam-tam

John Neschling, conductor

Chôros No 5 ('Alma brasileira'), for piano

Nelson Freire, piano

Chôros No 3 ('Pica-Pau'), for clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, 3 horns,

trombone and male voices

Male Voices of the Choir of São Paulo Symphony Orchestra

Alexandre Silvéro, bassoon

Marcos Pedroso, alto saxophone

Dante Yenque, Luciano Amaral, Samuel Hamzem, horns

Wagner Poliscthuck, trombone

Chôros No 10 ('Rasga o Coraçao') for chorus and orchestra

Choir of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra

São Paulo Symphony Orchestra

Producer: Chris Barstow.

02Paris: Opening Doors *20090915

Donald Macleod considers Villa-Lobos' relationship with Paris, the city where he developed his ideas, and which was a place he held in high affection for the rest of his life.

Quero ser Alegre (Suite for voice and violin)

Jill Gomez (soprano)

Peter Manning (violin)

HYPERION CDA66257 Tr 5

Nonetto

The Roger Wagner Chorale

The Concert Arts Ensemble

Roger Wagner (conductor)

El Records ACMEM150CD Tr 1

Choros No 3

Coro de La Filarmonica de Gran Canaria

Orquesta Filarmonica de Gran Canaria

Adrian Leaper (conductor)

SANCTUARY CD DCA 1150 Tr 4

Etudes for Guitar: Allegro non troppo; Anime

Timo Korhonen (guitar)

ONDINE ODE 837-2 Trs 5, 16

Quartet No 16 (excerpts)

Cuarteto Latinamericano

Saul Bitran (violin 1)

Aron Bitran (violin 2)

Javier Montiel (viola)

Alvaro Bitran (cello)

BRILLIANT CLASSICS 6634/4 Trs 9-12.

Donald Macleod considers Villa-Lobos' relationship with Paris.

03Carnival!20160810

This week, in conversation with Brazilian musicologist Manoel Correa do Lago, Donald Macleod explores the music and life of Brazil's greatest composer, the mercurial Heitor Villa-Lobos. Today, music inspired by the spirit of Rio's Carnival.

It's hard to imagine a more Brazilian composer than Heitor Villa-Lobos. His works are suffused with the accents of his native land - the street music of Rio de Janeiro, where he was born in 1887, in the dying years of the monarchy; the rural music he first encountered as a six-year-old, when his father had to hurriedly relocate himself and his young family to the countryside to avoid arrest for criticizing the new government; the Afro-Brazilian folk music he discovered on trips deep into the country's interior, accounts of which he subsequently - and characteristically - embroidered with tall tales of narrow escapes from cannibal cooking pots; and above all, a general sense of the essence of Brazil - its forests, its fauna, its folklore, its traditions. Intertwined with all these influences was Villa-Lobos's deep appreciation of European classical music - at least, selected aspects of it - which he absorbed first from his father, a keen amateur cellist and concert-goer. Bach was an early and abiding passion, thanks, apparently, to a favourite aunt who played him extracts from The Well-Tempered Clavier. Visits by foreign musicians, notably Artur Rubinstein and the Ballets Russes, added Ravel and Debussy to the mix. And in the 1920s he was able to spend several years living and working in Paris, where he was exposed above all to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, his first hearing of which he described as the greatest musical experience of his life. In 1957, two years before his death, he wrote that "Anyone born in Brazil who has formed his conscience in the heart of this land cannot, even if he wishes, imitate the character and manners of other countries." Yet he ended his days disillusioned with the Brazilian musical scene: "I have done all in my power to diffuse musical culture in Brazil, but it is useless. The country is dominated by mediocrity; for each mediocre person that dies, five more are born."

In today's programme, one of Heitor Villa-Lobos's favourite things: the Rio Carnival. We arrive in 1917, with the smash-hit of that year's Carnival, a song called Pelo telefone - On the Telephone - which composer Darius Milhaud, then Secretary to the French Ambassador to Brazil, remembers with affection in his autobiography. Pelo telefone, written by a man known as Donga, was the very first samba - or at least the first one to go viral - and there's no doubt that Villa-Lobos, a lifelong lover of Carnival, would have been there in the procession, swaying his hips to it with the best of them. This essentially Cariocan celebration found its way into a number of Villa-Lobos's works, from the charming solo-piano Carnaval das Crianças to the frankly orgiastic Chôros da Dança, which has been described as a sort of Brazilian Rite of Spring.

Donga (Ernesto Joaquim Maria dos Santos): 'Pelo telefone' (extract)

Baiano (Manuel Pedro dos Santos), vocals

Villa-Lobos: Carnaval das Crianças

Nelson Freire, piano

Mômoprecóce, Fantaisie pour piano et orchestre sur le 'Carnaval des enfants brésiliens' (extract)

Cristina Ortiz, piano

New Philharmonia Orchestra

Vladimir Ashkenazy, conductor

Vida Formosa; Viva o Carnaval (Guia prático, Bk 11)

Sonia Rubinsky, piano

Chôros No 8, for 2 pianos and orchestra

Linda Bustani, Ilan Rechtman, pianos

São Paulo Symphony Orchestra

John Neschling, conductor

Samba clássico

Teresa Berganza, mezzo

Juan Antonio Alvarez Parejo, piano

Producer: Chris Barstow.

03The Amazon - Inspiring Fantasies *20090916

Villa-Lobos was fascinated by the Amazon- a source of inspiration in many of his works.

Donald Macleod follows the thread of fantasy that he weaved through his life.

Dawn in a Tropical Forest

Jena Philharmonic Orchestra

David Montgomery (conductor)

ARTE NOVA 74321 54465 2 Tr 1

Cancoes Tipicas Brasileiras: Viola Quebrada; Adeus Ema; Xango

Teresa Berganza (mezzo-soprano)

Juan Antonio Alvarez Parejo (piano)

CLAVES CD 50-8401 Trs 1, 2, 3, 6

Uirapuru

Odense Symphony Orchestra

Jan Wagner (conductor)

BRIDGE 9129 Tr 1

Green Mansions: Main Title; Rima's Face; End Title (Bronislau Kaper's arrangement of Villa-Lobos themes)

MGM Studio Orchestra

Film Soundtrack: FSM Volume 8 No 3 Trs 1, 6 and 21

Danca do Indio Branco

Alma Petchersky (piano)

ASV CD DCA 607.

Donald Macleod explores Villa-Lobos' fascination with the Amazon.

04Sao Paulo: - Convincing Brazilians *20090917

Donald Macleod discusses the importance to Villa-Lobos of the city of Sao Paulo.

Sao Paulo was where Villa-Lobos first achieved fame - and where he later became a revered national educator.

Donald Macleod looks at the Brazilian city that always celebrated his music.

String Quartet No 3 (excerpts)

Cuarteto Latinamericano

Saul Bitran (violin 1)

Aron Bitran (violin 2)

Javier Montiel (viola)

Alvaro Bitran (cello)

BRILLIANT CLASSICS 6634/2 Trs 1-4

Uma Camponeza Cantadeira (Suite Floral)

Alma Petchersky (piano)

ASV CD DCA 1149 Tr 12

Pequena Suite (excerpts)

David Apter (piano)

Rebecca Rust (cello)

MARCO POLO 8.223527 Trs 1 and 6

Guia Pratico, Volume One (excerpts)

Piano- Sonia Rubinsky

NAXOS 8.570504

Symphony No 10 (excerpts)

Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra

Gisele Ben Dor (conductor)

KOCH 3-7488-2 HI Tr 5.

04The Great Educator20160811

This week, in conversation with Brazilian musicologist Manoel Correa do Lago, Donald Macleod explores the music and life of Brazil's greatest composer, the mercurial Heitor Villa-Lobos. Today, the Revolution of 1930 turns Villa-Lobos's life around.

It's hard to imagine a more Brazilian composer than Heitor Villa-Lobos. His works are suffused with the accents of his native land - the street music of Rio de Janeiro, where he was born in 1887, in the dying years of the monarchy; the rural music he first encountered as a six-year-old, when his father had to hurriedly relocate himself and his young family to the countryside to avoid arrest for criticizing the new government; the Afro-Brazilian folk music he discovered on trips deep into the country's interior, accounts of which he subsequently - and characteristically - embroidered with tall tales of narrow escapes from cannibal cooking pots; and above all, a general sense of the essence of Brazil - its forests, its fauna, its folklore, its traditions. Intertwined with all these influences was Villa-Lobos's deep appreciation of European classical music - at least, selected aspects of it - which he absorbed first from his father, a keen amateur cellist and concert-goer. Bach was an early and abiding passion, thanks, apparently, to a favourite aunt who played him extracts from The Well-Tempered Clavier. Visits by foreign musicians, notably Artur Rubinstein and the Ballets Russes, added Ravel and Debussy to the mix. And in the 1920s he was able to spend several years living and working in Paris, where he was exposed above all to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, his first hearing of which he described as the greatest musical experience of his life. In 1957, two years before his death, he wrote that "Anyone born in Brazil who has formed his conscience in the heart of this land cannot, even if he wishes, imitate the character and manners of other countries." Yet he ended his days disillusioned with the Brazilian musical scene: "I have done all in my power to diffuse musical culture in Brazil, but it is useless. The country is dominated by mediocrity; for each mediocre person that dies, five more are born."

In today's programme, Villa-Lobos returns to Rio from his second stay in Paris to be greeted by two major new developments: first, the nearly-completed statue of Christ the Redeemer, rising ever higher on the summit of the Corcovado, the granite crag that towers over the city; and second, the revolution that brought about the overthrow of the Old Republic and thrust Getulio Vargas into power. By a combination of lucky timing and opportunism, Villa-Lobos, despite his distinct lack of formal musical training, was to become the respected and powerful head of a new body within the Ministry of Education - SEMA - devoted to revitalizing musical education along nationalistic lines. In current terminology this led to a kind of 'weaponization' of choral singing; or as Villa-Lobos said, "The socializing power of collective singing teaches the individual to forfeit at the necessary moment the egoistic idea of excessive individuality, integrating him into the community." Villa-Lobos's duties as head of SEMA were so time-consuming that his compositional output decreased sharply, but the works he did manage to complete show a simplification of style that seems to stem from, or at least complement, his new educational role.

Villa-Lobos: Missa São Sebastião (Benedictus - 'Sebastian! The Saint')

Corydon Singers

Matthew Best, conductor

Plantio do Coboclo (Ciclo Brasileiro)

Débora Halász, piano

Descobrimento do Brasil, Suite No 4 (2nd mvt, Primeira Missa do Brasil)

BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

Sakari Oramo, conductor

Bach, arr Villa Lobos: Fugue in E flat minor from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Bk 1

SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart

Marcus Creed, conductor

Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras No 8

São Paulo Symphony Orchestra

John Neschling, conductor

Producer: Chris Barstow.

05Life In The Limelight20160812

This week, in conversation with Brazilian musicologist Manoel Correa do Lago, Donald Macleod explores the music and life of Brazil's greatest composer, the mercurial Heitor Villa-Lobos. Today, fame and fortune yield a steady stream of commissions.

It's hard to imagine a more Brazilian composer than Heitor Villa-Lobos. His works are suffused with the accents of his native land - the street music of Rio de Janeiro, where he was born in 1887, in the dying years of the monarchy; the rural music he first encountered as a six-year-old, when his father had to hurriedly relocate himself and his young family to the countryside to avoid arrest for criticizing the new government; the Afro-Brazilian folk music he discovered on trips deep into the country's interior, accounts of which he subsequently - and characteristically - embroidered with tall tales of narrow escapes from cannibal cooking pots; and above all, a general sense of the essence of Brazil - its forests, its fauna, its folklore, its traditions. Intertwined with all these influences was Villa-Lobos's deep appreciation of European classical music - at least, selected aspects of it - which he absorbed first from his father, a keen amateur cellist and concert-goer. Bach was an early and abiding passion, thanks, apparently, to a favourite aunt who played him extracts from The Well-Tempered Clavier. Visits by foreign musicians, notably Artur Rubinstein and the Ballets Russes, added Ravel and Debussy to the mix. And in the 1920s he was able to spend several years living and working in Paris, where he was exposed above all to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, his first hearing of which he described as the greatest musical experience of his life. In 1957, two years before his death, he wrote that "Anyone born in Brazil who has formed his conscience in the heart of this land cannot, even if he wishes, imitate the character and manners of other countries." Yet he ended his days disillusioned with the Brazilian musical scene: "I have done all in my power to diffuse musical culture in Brazil, but it is useless. The country is dominated by mediocrity; for each mediocre person that dies, five more are born."

In today's programme, Villa-Lobos finally cracks America - the result being a string of conducting engagements and commissions that kept him busy and well-remunerated for the last decade-and-a-half of his life. Among the commissions were a film score for MGM, a Broadway musical, a Chopin homage for UNESCO, a concerto for the legendary guitarist Segovia, a symphony for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a concerto grosso for the newly-created American Wind Symphony - pretty much the last thing Villa-Lobos wrote. It's generally agreed that despite some gems, the works of this final chapter of Villa-Lobos's life are of uneven quality - the word 'no' seemed not to be in his vocabulary. Perhaps this by all accounts charming, endlessly resourceful man just couldn't bear to disappoint.

Villa-Lobos: Overture (Floresta do Amazonas)

Moscow Physical and Engineering Institute Male Chorus

Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra

Alfred Heller, conductor

Food for Thought, from Magdalena

Judy Kaye (singer, Teresa)

Orchestra New England

Evans Haile, conductor

Hommage à Chopin (Nocturne and Ballade)

Jonathan Plowright, piano

Guitar Concerto

Julian Bream, guitar

London Symphony Orchestra

André Previn, conductor

Symphony No 11 (2nd mvt, Largo)

Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra

Carl St Clair, conductor

Concerto Grosso for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and wind orchestra (1st mvt, Allegro non troppo)

'The President's Own' United States Marine Band

José Serebrier, conductor

Floresta do Amazonas (Melodia Sentimental)

Anna Korondi, soprano

São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Choir

John Neschling, conductor

Producer: Chris Barstow.

05New York: Wowing Americans20090924
05 LASTNew York: Wowing Americans *20090918

It was in New York that global recognition came to Villa-Villa Lobos.

Donald Macleod reflects on that city's devotion to the man and his music.

New York Skyline Melody

Alfred Heller (piano)

ETCETERA KTC 1123 Tr 11

Guitar concerto (excerpts)

Northern Chamber Orchestra

Nicholas Ward (director)

Robert Kraft (guitar)

NAXOS 8.550729 Tr 5 (excerpt) and Tr 6

Genesis

Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra

Roberto Duarte (conductor)

MARCO POLO 8.223357 Tr 1

Bendita Sabedoria

Corydon Singers

Matthew Best (conductor)

HYPERION CDA66638 Tr 7-12

Jet Whistle (Assobio a Jato)

Rebecca Rust (cello)

Emmanuel Pahud (flute)

MARCO POLO 8.223527 Trs 14-16.

Donald Macleod reflects on New York's devotion to Villa-Lobos and his music.