1887 – 1959
Mostly in: Rio de Janeiro and Paris
Best Known For: Bachianas Brasileiras, Chôros, Guitar Concerto, Solo Guitar Works
Similar To: Milhaud, Stravinsky
“I am a child of nature”. This immodest statement was uttered by composer Heitor Villa-Lobos to an audience in Los Angeles during his first visit to the US in 1944. If it clearly surprised the novelist Érico Veríssimo, who was acting as Villa-Lobos’s translator from the Portuguese, it is, perhaps, a more accurate description of this remarkable musician than it might at first appear.
Villa-Lobos is one of those rarities in music: a great composer who taught himself. As a child he was instructed in cello and clarinet by his father, a librarian by day but also a fine amateur musician. Villa-Lobos also mastered the guitar and was actively composing by his early teens. His father died suddenly when the boy was only 12 and finances became a...