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Individual concerts OperaCinema
24.03.2023
Heitor Villa-Lobos's style
Use of chirping woodwinds over singing, lyrical strings, full brass and percussion create an atmosphere of mystery and majesty.

The music of Villa-Lobos draws from Brazilian legends and folklore, native, folk and popular music, and relies on local instruments to encompass his country’s varied landscapes, cultural diversity and unknown, exotic nature. Often the human voice is used as an instrument for special or percussive effects in his compositions, like in Chôros No. 4, the male chorus sings ‘Pica-Pau’ (woodpecker) in an onomatopoeic rhythm. Polyrhythms, vocal glissandos, sighs and syllables are techniques employed in his famous work, Descobrimento do Brasil (Discovery of Brazil). His orchestral compositions often employ enormous forces, particularly Brazilian percussion, and syncopated rhythms. Use of chirping woodwinds over singing, lyrical strings, full brass and percussion create an atmosphere of mystery and majesty. His polyphonic writing inspired Messiaen, who saw him as the mid-20th century’s greatest orchestrator. Villa-Lobos wrote descriptive, not musicological, directions on his scores. His pieces tend to be a succession of short motifs or phrases, often superimposed in a changing lyrical, rhapsodic manner. Modulations and variations heighten the colour of his work. He composed mostly intuitively, combining Brazilian music styles with European art music.

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