Brazilian composer and conductor. He absorbed Russian and French influences in the 1920s to create neo-baroque works in Brazilian style, using native colours and rhythms. His gift for melody is displayed in the ‘Chôros’ (serenades) series (1920–29) for various ensembles, and the series of nine Bachianas Brasileiras (1930–45), treated in the manner of Bach. His other works include guitar and piano solos, chamber music, choral works, film scores, operas, and 12 symphonies.
After studying the cello for a while, Villa-Lobos became a pianist and for some time toured as a concert artist. In 1912 he began to explore his country's folk music and in 1915 gave the first concert devoted to his own works at Rio de Janeiro. A government grant enabled him to live in Paris for a few years from 1923, but on his return he did much useful work as a conductor and music educationalist, being appointed director of music education for the schools in the capital in 1930. In 1929 he published a book on Brazilian folk music, Alma de Brasil.
WorksStage operas Izath (1914, concert performance 1940), Yerma (1956, produced 1971); musical comedy Magdalena (1948); ballet Uirapuru.
Choral and orchestral oratorio Vidapura; 14 works entitled Chôros cast in a new form and consisting of four for orchestra, one for piano and orchestra, one for two pianos and orchestra, two for chorus and orchestra, and six for various combinations and solo instruments (1920–28); orchestral works, including symphonic poem Amazonas, Bachianas Brasileiras (nine suites in the spirit of Bach, 1930–44), 12 symphonies (1916–57); five piano concertos, two cello concertos, harp concerto.
Chamber nonet for wind, harp, percussion, and chorus, quintet for wind instruments (1923); 17 string quartets (1915–58), three piano trios (1911–18); four sonata-fantasies for violin and piano (1912–23); a very large number of piano works; songs.
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