Heitor Villa-Lobos

Villa-Lobos at the end of a concert in Tel Aviv, 1952, Fritz Cohen, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Brazilian Composer, Conductor, Cellist & Classical Guitarist • March 5, 1887-November 17, 1959 • 20th Century Brazilian Art Music

Fast Facts

  • Heitor Villa-Lobos is often considered the most important 20th century composer of classical music from South America
  • He was born in Rio de Janeiro, where he learned to play the cello, clarinet, and classical guitar from his father
  • Villa-Lobos’ wife, Lucilia Guimaraes, taught him how to play the piano
  • His compositional style is influenced by both European classical music and Brazilian folk music
  • He composed operas, ballets, symphonies, concertos, symphonic suites, and solo pieces 
  • He composed music for the 1945 film Green Mansions starring Audrey Hepburn
  • In 1930 Villa-Lobos was made director of music education in Rio de Janeiro and later founded the Brazilian Academy of Music
  • He designed a complete system of musical instruction for generations of Brazilians, deeply rooted in patriotism and  based upon Brazil’s rich musical culture
  • One of his most famous works, Bachianas Brasileiras, is a cycle of 9 suites that fuses the Baroque style of JS Bach with Brazilian folk music.

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