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Heitor Villa-Lobos

Heitor Villa-Lobos

Biography

Around the time of Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly's search for folk idioms and songs in their native Hungary, Heitor Villa-Lobos was doing the same thing in his homeland, Brazil. Merging the music he found with his understanding of and love for antiquated and new Western art music, Villa-Lobos easily became the single most important Brazilian composer, if not the most significant South American composer. His music, notably the piece entitled Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5, has become well known even outside of classical circles. His works for guitar are exceedingly popular: no classical guitarist worth their salt doesn't attempt the emotionally mature, harmonically complex and melodically beautiful Preludes. A guitarist with sensitive hands and malleable technique can make these works sing with gorgeous purity while carefully building upon the rhythms and colors Villa-Lobos wrote into them. He was not averse to utilizing Modernist techniques: for New York City Skyline, he literally traced the skyline and jotted notes along the outline. The effect is startling and the piece is one of his most famous.
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