peermusic classical
 
Heitor Villa-Lobos  |  Worklist  |  Audio
 
Heitor Villa-Lobos
 

Villa-Lobos was larger than life, quite extraordinary. He didn't seem to be a composer. He wore loud checked shirts, smoked a cigar, and always kept the radio on, listening to the news or light music or whatever. Villa-Lobos wasn't refined in the intellectual sense, but he had a great heart.
--Julian Bream, guitarist

Villa-Lobos remains one of the most individual and colorful figures in twentieth-century music, one who took what he wanted from the music he heard floating in the air and bent it to his own strongly personal purposes -- one of which was to present a panorama of all aspects of his homeland.
--John W Duarte, composer

 
Biography
Heitor Villa-Lobos was born in Rio de Janeiro on March 5, 1887. Learning music from his father, one of Rio's fine amateur musicians, Villa Lobos had become by the end of his teenage years, a professional cellist, earning his living playing in cafes and other centers of Rio's elaborate night life.

From the age of 18 to 25, Villa-Lobos lived a Bohemian lifestyle, traveling the Brazilian countryside, learning the indigenous music of his homeland. Afterwards, he studied at the National Institute of Music in Rio de Janeiro, where he refined his unique and personal style, one that, in his own words, "is natural, like a waterfall."

After another ethnomusicological trip to the Amazonian interior in 1912, Villa-Lobos returned to Rio de Janeiro. In 1915, he had great success with several works premiered in a concert of his own music, and by 1923, he had attracted enough official favor to win a government grant to study in Paris. Between 1923 and 1930, Villa-Lobos lived throughout Europe, mostly in Paris, where his unique musical style gained him great notoriety and put him in contact with international figures like Varese and Stokowski, who premiered his works in New York and Philadelphia in 1929.

On his return to Brazil in 1930, Villa-Lobos was made director of music education in Rio de Janeiro. From this point onwards he became the main representative of Brazilian music throughout the world. In 1944, he made a trip to the United States to conduct his works, to great critical and popular acclaim. Important new works were commissioned by American orchestras, and he even wrote a movie score for the 1945 Hollywood film The Green Mansions. The 1940's were a period of international success, with premieres throughout the world, often conducted by Villa-Lobos himself. Heitor Villa-Lobos died in Rio de Janeiro on November 17, 1959 having composed some 2500 works, many of them finding their place in the modern repertory.

See The Villa-Lobos Museum for more information on Villa-Lobos and his work.