The importance of Afro-Brazilian music in Heitor Villa-Lobos' quest for a unique musical style
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis research demonstrates the importance of the African influence as a decisive element in the quest of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) for a unique musical style. A concise biography is provided in chapter two, revealing, among other topics, Villa-Lobos' childhood and early influences, his years in Paris, and the time he spent as an educator in Brazil under the government of President Getulio Vargas. Chapter three deals with the arrival of modernism in Brazil. New tendencies brought from Europe helped to consolidate a trend of renewal in the arts commonly referred to as "futurism." Futuristic currents culminated with the Week of Modern Art, where Villa-Lobos' music was the most preponderant. In this same chapter, the influence of Mario de Andrade (1893-1945), one of the leaders of the modernist movement, is also discussed. He devotes special attention to the Brazilian rhythmics, its origins, and foundation. The African rhythmics is studied in chapter four. Special attention is given to those African regions that influenced the Brazilian folklore. An ethnography containing original African rhythms found in Angola and Nigeria, as well as Afro-Brazilian rhythms, is provided. Finally, detailed analyses of selected works for solo piano by Villa-Lobos are presented in chapter five. The criteria for the selection were the use of eclectic compositional techniques, and the presence of Afro-Brazilian influence. The following pieces are analyzed in this document: Dancas Caracteristicas Africanas (Farrapos, Kankikis, and Kankukus), Ciclo Brasileiro (Plantio do Caboclo, Impressoes Seresteiras, Festa no Sertao, and Danca do Indio Branco), Choros No.5---Alma Brasileira, and two movements from Prole do Bebe No. 2 (A Baratinha de Papel and O Boizinho de Chumbo). Villa-Lobos' manipulation of the African rhythms resulted in their direct and indirect quotations in these works. Sometimes they are clearly stated and, sometimes, modified.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Music and Dance