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Unlike most of the nicknames given to Beethoven’s works, Pathétique is believed to have been picked by the composer himself to convey the romantic and even sorrowful mood of the sonata. The first movement begins with a dark and dramatic introduction before assuming the brisk, nearly frenetic motion of the traditional sonata form. The second movement is gentle, with a central theme that gradually evolves as new melodies derived from fragments of the original are introduced. In the final movement Beethoven offers a tempestuous rondo.
The sonata provides a notable early example of Beethoven’s experimentation with the dramatic potential of the key of C minor, which he would later choose for his well-known Symphony No. 5.
Tonality and influences
Beethoven did not pick C minor arbitrarily as the key center for the first movement. It has a long-standing association with the tragic temperament, dating from the pre-Baroque. For Beethoven, C minor was the key of choice for funeral marches (for example the slow movement of the Eroica Symphony) and for relentless, agitated music.
He was greatly impressed by Mozart’s C minor Piano Concerto, No. 24, K491, and there are echoes of the unsettled mood of that piece as well as the final tragic moments from Don Giovanni in the Pathétique. Around the same time as writing the Sonata, he had embarked on the String Quartet, Op. 18 No. 4, also in C minor. It makes for interesting comparative listening (see Spotify playlist).
Other precedents in a similar tragic mode are: Bach’s Partita for keyboard in C minor Mozart’s Fantasia in C minor, K475 Beethoven’s own ‘Electoral’ Sonata No. 2 in F minor
The Pathétique may indeed borrow certain features from all the above, whether the ornate introduction or a more general reflection of mood, but it also set a new benchmark for writing in the tragic style.
Piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat major D. 960 is the Twenty-first and last piano sonata by Franz Schubert. It was composed in September 1828, the year of his death. Way along with the sonatas D. 958 and D. 959, the last major works for composer’s piano, all written during his last months of life, between spring and autumn of 1828, a time when he was affected by tertiary syphilis.
A standard run lasts approximately forty minutes. It is divided into four movements:
Scherzo: Allegro vivace con delicatezza
Allegro ma non troppo
Schubert’s sonata D. 960 is generally considered his greatest achievement in this form and one of the finest contributions to the long series of piano sonatas.
By placing Ludwig van B. on a musical pedestal we tend to forget that he was surrounded by a whole host of talented composers and musicians who competed for his audience. And as we all know, Beethoven was a difficult person to get along with at the best of times, and his professional relationships with fellow composers was a rather thorny affair as well.
Undoubtedly, the most important relationship in Beethoven’s early life was his apprenticeship with Joseph Haydn. Beethoven started lessons with Haydn in November 1792 and became quickly frustrated. Haydn had lots of things on his plate in terms of his own compositions and commissions, and he probably didn’t pay much attention to the needs of his young charge. In addition, Haydn departed Vienna for his second trip to London in 1794 and only returned more than a year and a half later.
When Beethoven performed his newly composed Piano Trios opus 1 in August 1795, Haydn was the guest of honor. Not only did Haydn suggest that the third trio needed more work, but also that Beethoven should included the phrase “pupil of Haydn” underneath his name.
Beethoven was horrified and really never forgot Haydn’s criticism. However, there was no seriously falling out between the two men as Beethoven dedicated his next opus, the set of three Piano Sonatas, opus 2, to Haydn. On the occasion of Haydn’s 76 birthday, Beethoven is said to “have knelt down before Haydn and fervently kissed the hands and forehead of his old teacher.” Whether this story holds true or not, we now know that Beethoven always referred to his old master in terms of reverence.
While Beethoven’s relationship with Haydn can be described as professional and cordial, his interaction with the former child prodigy and student of Mozart, Johann Nepomuk Hummel was less friendly. For one, Hummel was alongside Beethoven, considered the finest performer of his day. And they were rivals in romance as well, as both were in love with the same woman, the singer Elisabeth Röckel.
We know that Hummel won the day, “because he had an appointment and had not the misfortune of being hard of hearing.” The story of Beethoven’s and Hummel’s first professional meeting, fancifully told in Schindler’s Beethoven biography, set the stage for a spectacular falling-out between the two musicians.
In 1810, Beethoven travelled to Eisenstadt for the premiere of his Mass in C, Op. 86, which had been commissioned by Prince Nikolaus II Esterházy to mark the name day of his wife, Princess Marie Hermenegild. The performance did not go well, and the Prince made some disparaging remarks to Beethoven. Apparently, Hummel, who was standing close by, was heartily laughing at the Prince’s comments. Always hypersensitive when it came to his music, Beethoven promptly left Eisenstadt and carried a drudge for many years. Further disagreements arose when Hummel made arrangements of Beethoven’s symphonies.
Beethoven strongly objected, but eventually his hostility towards Hummel softened somewhat. Hummel did not see Beethoven again until 1827 when he visited his ailing rival in Vienna. Beethoven apparently was overjoyed to see him, and Hummel was deeply affected by Beethoven’s sickness and visited him three times while he was on his deathbed.
The relationship between Gioacchino Rossini and Ludwig van B. has been much discussed in the greater context of the emergence of the twin-musical styles at the beginning of the 19th century. Beethoven was cordial to Rossini at their only meeting in Vienna in April 1822.
Rossini gave an insightful account of that meeting, “In Vienna I attended for the first time the performance of one of his symphonies, the Eroica. That music overwhelmed me. I had a single thought: to know that great genius, to see him, just once. I spoke of this with Salieri whom I knew to be in rapport with Beethoven… Ascending the stairs that led to the miserable dwelling, which the great man inhabited, it was certainly hard work to control my emotion.
When the door was opened, I found myself in a kind of dirty and frightfully disorderly attic. I remember above all that the ceiling, immediately under the roof, was covered from great cracks through which the rain must have poured in. There was an indefinable sadness that emanates from its face, while under the thick eyebrows, as in deep caverns, the eyes, even if small, seemed transfixed. His voice was sweet and a little veiled. When we entered, without drawing attention to ourselves, we stayed some moment bent over a page of music as he finished correcting it.
Then, raising his head, he said to me abruptly, in a sufficiently comprehensible Italian: Ah! Rossini, you are the author of The Barber of Seville? I offer my compliments; it is an excellent opera buffa. I have read it with pleasure and I enjoyed myself. So long as there is an Italian opera, it will be performed. Never try to do anything other than comic operas; to want to succeed in another style would force your nature… It makes me painfully aware just how isolated Beethoven was in his deafness.”
Beethoven in turn told a friend, “Rossini is a talented and a melodious composer, his music suits the frivolous and sensuous spirit of the times, and his productivity is such that he needs only as many weeks as the Germans do years to write an opera.” Above all, Beethoven was intensely jealous of Rossini’s popularity, and he could never fully come to terms with the fact that Viennese audiences were swept away by Rossini’s melodies.
One afternoon in 1817, the English composer Cipriani Potter was taking a stroll through the woods with Beethoven. Curious, Potter asked Beethoven, “Apart from yourself, who do you considered the greatest living composer?” While Beethoven seemed initially startled, he eventually gave an equally startling answer in “Cherubini.” Beethoven had always held Cherubini in high esteem, personally writing to him in 1823, “I am enraptured whenever I hear a new work of yours and feel as great an interest in it as in my own works—in brief, I honor and love you.”
Beethoven proclaimed Cherubini “Europe’s foremost dramatic composer,” and he admired Cherubini’s Requiem in C minor to such extend that he ordered it performed at his own funeral. Cherubini, on the other hand, wasn’t much impressed by Beethoven. He attended the first performance of Beethoven’s opera Fidelio and found it wanting. He also described Beethoven’s piano style as “rough,” and famously described Beethoven as “an unlicked bear cub.” And he described the whole man and everything about him with the single word “brusque.” Beethoven’s enthusiasm for Cherubini, however was not merely musical, it had a definite political angle as well.
Like many other Viennese, Beethoven was attracted by the grand rhetorical manner of operas from revolutionary France, regaling in their contemporary realism and heroic plots. And with his “Eroica,” Beethoven had already personalized the political symphony.
Born in 1955, in Paris. Son of Chinese parents; began his cello studies with his father at age four; gave his first public recital at age five; studied with Janos Scholz and at age seven; became a pupil of Leonard Rose at the Juillard School of Music in 1962; graduated from Harvard University in 1977. Education: became a pupil of Leonard Rose at the Juillard School of Music in 1962; graduated from Harvard University in 1977. Addresses: Record company–Sony Classics, 550 Madison Avenue, 16th floor, New York, NY 10022, Phone: (212) 833-8000.
Winner of 13 Grammy Awards, cellist Yo-Yo Ma possesses astounding technical brilliance and an awe-inspiring artistic sensibility. He virtually defined the standard for future cellists, and during his prolific career recorded more than 50 albums, between 1983 and 2000.
Ma never hesitated to explore fresh musical terrain and the music of other cultures, and often explored the musical forms outside the Western classical tradition.
Ma immersed himself in projects as diverse as native Chinese music, and its distinctive instruments, the music of the Kalahari bush people in Africa, and tango music. Ma became one of the most sought-after cellists of his time, appearing with eminent conductors and orchestras throughout the world. He also gained a deserved reputation as an ambassador for classical music and its vital role in society.
Ma was born in Paris in 1955 to Chinese parents, and he began his cello studies with his father at the age of four. Ma gave his first public recital at the age of five. He eventually studied with Janos Scholz and then, at the age of seven, Ma became a pupil of Leonard Rose at the Juillard School of Music in 1962. By the time Ma was nineteen, he was compared with masters such as Rostropovich and Casals.
He graduated from Harvard University in 1977, and in 1978, at the age of 23, Ma received the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize. Ma gained international recognition as soloist and chamber musician. He performed as a soloist with symphony orchestras around the world, including those of Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Minnesota, as well as the New York, Israel, and Los Angeles Philharmonics.
Ma earned his first Grammy Award in 1984 for Best Classical Performance–Instrumental for Bach: The Unaccompanied Cello Suites. A year later he garnered two more Grammy Awards, one for Elgar: Cello Concerto,Op. 85, and one for Best Chamber Music Performance for Brahms: Cello and Piano Sonatas in E Minor, with Emanuel Ax. Ma’s long-standing partnership with pianist Ax resulted in the lion’s share of his recordings, as well as numerous recitals.
Their partnership became one of the music world’s most successful and prolific collaborations. They recorded the complete cello sonatas of Beethoven and Brahms in addition to works by Britten, Chopin, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Strauss, and others. In 1986 Ma won another Grammy, along with Ax in the Best Chamber Music Performance category for Beethoven: Cello and Piano Son. No. 4. Three years later in 1989 Ma won a Best Classical Instrumental Performance Grammy for Barber: Cello Concerto, Op. 22.
In 1991, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) hyperinstrument team designed a special hypercello for Ma, and Tod Machover composed a special piece titled “Begin Again Again” for Ma to be performed on this new instrument. The hypercello permitted Ma to control an extensive array of sounds through performance nuance. Ma also received an honorary doctorate from Harvard in 1991 and a Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance for Brahms: Piano Quartets the same year.
He won two Grammy Awards in 1992–for Best Chamber Music Performance and for Best Classical Instrument Performance. He won for Best Classical Instrument Performance again in 1994. During the 1995-1996 season, Ma and Ax celebrated the 20th anniversary of their partnership with a recital tour culminating at Carnegie Hall, as well as a special concert at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall for an episode of PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center. They won the chamber music Grammy again in 1995.
Ma balanced his solo performances with orchestras around the world with his recital and chamber music activities. He drew inspirations from a diverse and far-reaching circle of collaborators, working with musicians such as Daniel Barenboim, Pamela Frank, Emanuel Ax, Stephane Grappelli, Jeffrey Kahane, Young Uck Kim, Jaime Laredo, Bobby McFerrin, Edgar Meyer, Mark O’Connor, Peter Serkin, Isaac Stern, Richard Stoltzman, and Kathryn Stott.
Each collaboration was generated by interaction between the musicians and often resulted in pieces that extended far beyond the boundaries of classical music or of any particular music classification. Ma joined Ax, Stern, and Laredo for performances and recordings of the piano quartet repertoire of Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak, Faurve, Mozart, and Schumman.
Ma released Hush with vocalist Bobby McFerrin in 1992, followed by the soundtrack to the Gary Oldman film, Immortal Beloved, both of which were certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. In 1995 Ma presented the first in a series of films of Bach’s Six Cello Suites, exploring the relationship between Bach’s music and other artistic disciplines.
The premier film, presented at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, featured the original choreography of Mark Morris set to the Third Cello Suite. Subsequent multimedia presentations/films by Ma, released throughout the late 1990s, incorporate the work of Kabuki artist Tamasaburo Bando, Italian architect Piranesi, Boston-based garden designer Julie Moir Messervy, Olympic ice-dancing champions Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean, and Canadian film director Atom Egoyan.
In 1996, Ma released Peter Lieberson’s chamber work King Gesar, a compilation of concertos by Kirchner, Rouse, and Danielpour with David Zinman and the Philadelphia Orchestra. In 1996 Ma also released Appalachia Waltz, an album of original music recorded in Nashville, Tennessee with fiddle player Mark O’Connor and bassist Edgar Meyer. In 1997 Ma recorded new material by Andre Previn, set to words by author Toni Morrison, featuring soprano Sylvia McNair and Previn as pianist.
American contemporary composers have been featured prominently in Ma’s repertoire. Ma premiered works by William Bolcom, John Corigliano, John Harbison, Ezra Laderman, Peter Lieberson, Christopher Rouse, Bright Sheng, and John Williams, among others. Ma devoted time to working with young musicians in programs at Interlochen, Michigan, and other music camps. He often included educational outreach programs in his touring schedule, through master classes and informal interaction with student audiences.
In 1997 Ma recorded the soundtrack of Liberty!, a PBS documentary series about the American Revolution. Ma performed the music of the late Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla on the release Soul of the Tango in 1998 and performed for the music video for director Sally Potter’s feature film, The Tango Lesson, in which Ma plays Piazzolla’s “Libertango.” On Soul of the Tango, Ma played with Argentinean tangueros, which included a rock “duet” with Piazzolla–achieved by recording over one of the master bandoneonist’s–a sort of accordion–final recordings.
Ma steeped himself in Piazzolla’s music and background by studying a tape of Rostropovich rehearsing “Le Grand Tango” for Piazzolla, and by traveling to Buenos Aires to tour tango clubs. Ma told Billboard‘s Bradley Bambarger, “The whole experience of researching and recording [Soul of the Tango] was a thrill. Like a lot of people, I’m so irresistibly drawn to Piazzolla’s music. It’s very sophisticated, yet it’s also very primal. And you can say that about Beethoven, Stravinsky–all the good stuff feeds the mind, the body, and the soul.”
The album won a Grammy Award for Best Classical Crossover Album of the year. Ma won a second crossover Grammy for his Sony Classical album, Appalachian Journey, in 2000.
Ma, who is known for his fun-loving approach to life, appeared on People Magazine‘s “Sexiest Men Alive” list in 2001.
Versus 3 (soprano): Verleih, daß ich aus Herzensgrund
Versus 4 (tenor): Laß mich kein Lust noch Furcht von dir
Versus 5 (chorale): Ich lieg im Streit und widerstreb
Similar to most chorale cantatas, the opening chorus is a chorale fantasia, presenting the chorale line by line, the cantus firmus here sung by the soprano. Most of the lines are preceded by entries of the other voices in imitation of motifs independent of the chorale melody. In line 6 the imitation motive is taken from the chorale. In the two last lines 8 and 9 the lower voices enter together with the soprano. The vocal structure is embedded in a concerto of solo violin and two oboes which play the cantus firmus colla parte with the soprano, strings and continuo.
The three arias for the following verses show increasing instrumental complexity. Verse 2 is accompanied by continuo only, verse 3 by oboe da caccia, verse 4 by the rare combination of violin and bassoon. The musicologist Julian Mincham observes a “journey from uncertainty and doubt to warmth and acceptance and finally to rejoicing and jubilation”.
In the finale chorale Bach used ornamentation for expressiveness.
(born March 5, 1887, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—died November 17, 1959, Rio de Janeiro), Brazilian composer and one of the foremost Latin American composers of the 20th century, whose music combines indigenous melodic and rhythmic elements with Western classical music.
Villa-Lobos’s father was a librarian and an amateur musician. Under the influence of his father’s weekly musical get-togethers, the boy became interested in music. He learned to play cello (actually a modified viola) at age six and was inspired by music from Johann Sebastian Bach’s A Well-Tempered Clavier that was given to him by an aunt. While traveling with his family to various regions of the vast country, he also developed an interest in native Brazilian folk music.
When they returned to Rio de Janeiro, Villa-Lobos began associating and performing with the city’s popular musicians. He learned to play the guitar. He left home at age 18 because his widowed mother opposed his “delinquent” friends and wanted him to become a doctor. Instead, he became a musical vagabond, playing cello and guitar to support himself while traveling throughout the states of Espírito Santo, Bahia, and Pernambuco, absorbing Brazilian folk music and composing his own pieces.
During this period Villa-Lobos enrolled briefly at the Instituto Nacional de Música in Rio de Janeiro, but he was to continue his travels for three years. He returned to the city with a large group of manuscripts and an intimate knowledge of the Afro-Brazilian music of the country’s northern and northeastern regions. He began a serious study of the works of Bach, Richard Wagner, and Giacomo Puccini, whose influence can be noted in his compositions.
In 1915 a concert in Rio de Janeiro featured his compositions, and his career was given a vital boost that same year when the firm of Artur Napoleão began publishing his music. Although many critics initially attacked the dissonance and modernity of his work, he persisted in his efforts to merge Western music and the Brazilian vernacular tradition.
In 1919 he met the pianist Artur Rubinstein, who helped advance Villa-Lobos’s reputation by playing his music in concerts throughout the world. He composed ceaselessly (about 2,000 works are credited to him in all), and by the time of his first trip to Europe in 1923 he had produced a long list of compositions in every form, from solo pieces for guitar to trios, quartets, concerti, vocal music, and symphonies.
The success of his first trip—he made Paris his home base for the remainder of the 1920s—encouraged him to organize and perform in a number of concerts; during this period he published more of his work and solidified an international reputation.
In Brazil for a performance in 1930, Villa-Lobos presented a plan for music education in the São Paulo school system and was appointed director of music education there. In 1932 he took charge of music education throughout Brazil. He established a conservatory for choral singing in 1942 and, with fellow composer Oscar Lorenzo Fernandez, cofounded the Brazilian Academy of Music in 1945. Between 1944 and 1949 he traveled widely in the United States and Europe, where he wrote music for several films, received many honours, and was much in demand as a conductor.
As mentioned above, Villa-Lobos’s works are characterized by a singular blend of Western classical music and Brazilian folk songs and rhythms. One of his best-known works is Bachianas brasileiras (written 1930–45), a set of nine pieces for various instrumental and vocal groups, in which a contrapuntal technique in the manner of Bach is applied to themes of Brazilian origin.
A similar series of 14 works, composed between 1920 and 1929, bears the generic title Chôros (the choro is a Brazilian country dance). Each of his 12 symphonies alludes to a historic event or place. Among his many other works are two cello concerti (1915, 1955), Momoprecoce for piano and orchestra (1929), Guitar Concerto (1951), Harp Concerto (1953), Harmonica Concerto (1955), 16 string quartets, Rudepoema for piano solo (1926; orchestrated 1942), and the symphonic poems Uirapurú (1917), Amazonas (1929), and Dawn in a Tropical Forest (1954).
His earliest pieces originated in guitar improvisations, for example Panqueca (Pancake) of 1900. The concert series of 1915–21 included first performances of pieces demonstrating originality and virtuosic technique. Some of these pieces are early examples of elements of importance throughout his œuvre. His attachment to the Iberian Peninsula is demonstrated in Canção Ibéria of 1914 and in orchestral transcriptions of some of Enrique Granados‘ piano Goyescas (1918, now lost).
Other themes that were to recur in his later work include the anguish and despair of the piece Desesperança— Sonata Phantastica e Capricciosa no. 1 (1915), a violin sonata including “histrionic and violently contrasting emotions”, the birds of L’oiseau blessé d’une flèche (1913), the mother–child relationship (not usually a happy one in Villa-Lobos’s music) in Les mères of 1914, and the flowers of Suíte floral for piano of 1916–18 which reappeared in Distribuição de flores for flute and [classical guitar]] of 1937.
Reconciling European tradition and Brazilian influences was also an element that bore fruit more formally later. His earliest published work Pequena suíte for ‘cello and piano of 1913 shows a love for the ‘cello, but is not notably Brazilian, although it contains elements that were to resurface later. His three-movement Suíte graciosa of 1915 (expanded to six movements c. 1947 to become his String Quartet No. 1) is influenced by European opera, while Três danças características (africanas e indígenas) of 1914–16 for piano, later arranged for octet and subsequently orchestrated, is radically influenced by the tribal music of the Caripunas Indians of Mato Grosso.
With his tone poems Amazonas (1917, first performed in Paris in 1929) and Uirapurú (1917, first performed 1935) he created works dominated by indigenous Brazilian influences. The works use Brazilian folk tales and characters, imitations of the sounds of the jungle and its fauna, imitations of the sound of the nose-flute by the violinophone, and not least imitations of the uirapuru bird itself.
His meeting with Arthur Rubinstein in 1918 prompted Villa-Lobos to compose piano music such as Simples coletânea of 1919—which was possibly influenced by Rubinstein’s playing of Ravel and Scriabin on his South American tours—and Bailado infernal of 1920. The latter piece includes the tempi and expression markings “vertiginoso e frenético”, “infernal” and “mais vivo ainda” (faster still).
Carnaval das crianças of 1919–20 saw Villa-Lobos’s mature style emerge; unconstrained by the use of traditional formulae or any requirement for dramatic tension, the piece at times imitates a mouth organ, children’s dances, a harlequinade, and ends with an impression of the carnival parade. This work was orchestrated in 1929 with new linking passages and a new title, Momoprecoce. Naïveté and innocence is also heard in the piano suites A Prole do Bebê (The Baby’s Family) of 1918–21.
Around this time he also fused urban Brazilian influences and impressions, for example in his Quarteto simbólico of 1921. He included the urban street music of the chorões, who were groups containing flute, clarinet and cavaquinho (a Brazilian guitar), and often also including ophicleide, trombones or percussion. Villa-Lobos occasionally joined such bands.
Early works showing this influence were incorporated into the Suíte popular brasileira of 1908–12 assembled by his publisher, and more mature works include the Sexteto místico (c.1955, replacing a lost and probably unfinished one begun in 1917), and his setting of the poetry of Mário de Andrade and Catulo da Paxão Cearense in the Canções típicas brasileiras of 1919. His classical guitar studies are also influenced by the music of the chorões.
All the elements mentioned so far are fused in Villa-Lobos’s Nonet. Subtitled Impressão rápida do todo o Brasil (A Brief Impression of the Whole of Brazil), the title of the work denotes it as ostensibly chamber music, but it is scored for flute/piccolo, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, celesta, harp, piano, a large percussion battery requiring at least two players, and a mixed chorus.
In Paris, his musical vocabulary established, Villa-Lobos solved the problem of his works’ form. It was perceived as an incongruity that his Brazilian impressionism should be expressed in the form of quartets and sonatas. He developed new forms to free his imagination from the constraints of conventional musical development such as that required in sonata form. The multi-sectional poema form may be seen in the Suite for Voice and Violin, which is somewhat like a triptych, and the Poema da criança e sua mamã for voice, flute, clarinet, and cello (1923).
The extended Rudepoêma for piano, written for Rubinstein, is a multi-layered work, often requiring notation on several staves, and is both experimental and demanding. Wright calls it “the most impressive result” of this formal development. The Ciranda, or Cirandinha is a stylised treatment of simple Brazilian folk melodies in a wide variety of moods. A ciranda is a child’s singing game, but Villa-Lobos’s treatment in the works he gave this title are sophisticated.
Another form was the Chôros. Villa-Lobos composed more than a dozen works with this title for various instruments, mostly in the years 1924–1929. He described them as “a new form of musical composition”, a transformation of the Brazilian music and sounds “by the personality of the composer”.
He also composed between 1930 and 1945 nine pieces he called Bachianas Brasileiras (Brazilian Bachian pieces). These take the forms and nationalism of the Chôros, and add the composer’s love of Bach. He incorporated neoclassicism in his nationalistic style. Villa-Lobos’s use of archaisms was not new (an early example is his Pequena suíte for cello and piano of 1913). The pieces evolved over the period rather than being conceived as a whole, some of them being revised or added to.
They contain some of his most popular music, such as No. 5 for soprano and eight cellos (1938–1945), and No. 2 for orchestra of 1930 (the Tocata movement of which is O trenzinho do caipira, “The little train of the Caipira”). They also show the composer’s love for the tonal qualities of the cello, both No. 1 and No. 5 being scored for no other instruments. In these works the often harsh dissonances of his earlier music are less evident: or, as Simon Wright puts it, they are “sweetened”.
The transformation of Chôros into Bachianas Brasileiras is demonstrated clearly by the comparison of No. 6 for flute and bassoon with the earlier Chôros No. 2 for flute and clarinet.
The dissonances of the later piece are more controlled, the forward direction of the music easier to discern. Bachianas Brasileiras No. 9 takes the concept so far as to be an abstract Prelude and Fugue, a complete distillation of the composer’s national influences. Villa-Lobos eventually recorded all nine of these works for EMI in Paris, mostly with the musicians of the French National Orchestra; these were originally issued on LPs and later reissued on CDs. He also recorded the first section of Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 with Bidu Sayão and a group of cellists for Columbia.
During his period at SEMA, Villa-Lobos composed five string quartets, nos. 5 to 9, which explored avenues opened by his public music that dominated his output. He also wrote more music for Segovia, the Cinq préludes, which also demonstrate a further formalisation of his composition style. After the fall of the Vargas government, Villa-Lobos returned full-time to composition, resuming a prolific rate of completing works. His concertos—particularly those for the classical guitar, the harp, and the harmonica—are examples of his earlier poema form.
The Harp Concerto is a large work, and shows a new propensity to focus on a small detail, then to fade it and bring another detail to the foreground. This technique also occurs in his final opera, Yerma, which contains a series of scenes each of which establishes an atmosphere, similarly to the earlier Momoprecoce.
Villa-Lobos’s final major work was the music for the film Green Mansions (though in the end, most of his score was replaced with music by Bronislaw Kaper) and its arrangement as Floresta do Amazonas for orchestra, as well as some short songs issued separately. In 1957, he wrote a Seventeenth String Quartet, whose austerity of technique and emotional intensity “provide a eulogy to his craft”. His Bendita Sabedoria, a sequence of a cappella chorales written in 1958, is a similarly simple setting of Latin biblical texts. These works lack the pictorialism of his more public music.
Except for the lost works, the Nonet, the two concerted works for violin and orchestra, Suite for Piano and Orchestra, a number of the symphonic poems, most of his choral music and all of the operas, his music is well represented on the world’s recital and concert stages and on CD.