Friday, December 7, 2007

Native Brazilian Music

The Library of Congress 2006 National Recording Registry includes this recording project from the time of the Good Neighbour Policy.

Native Brazilian Music. Recorded under the supervision of Leopold Stokowski. (1942)

Leopold Stokowski and his All-American Youth Orchestra performed in Rio de Janeiro as part of a goodwill tour to South America in the summer of 1940. Prior to his visit to Brazil, Stokowski asked composer Heitor Villa-Lobos to help him collect and record popular Brazilian music, of which the conductor was a great admirer. Villa-Lobos assembled an elite group of musicians, including Pixinguinha, Donga, Cartola, Jararaca, Ratinho and José Espinguela. Forty recordings were made onboard the ship carrying Stokowski and the orchestra. Seventeen of the recordings, embracing musical styles such as sambas, batucadas, macumba and emboladas, were released in 1942 by Columbia Records on a 78-rpm album, “Native Brazilian Music".

The story of this recording project is told by Daniella Thompson in Stalking Stokowski. What a great example of research in action!

Here's a review and story from Time Magazine, March 16, 1942, following the record's original release. The project is also mentioned in Harold Lewis's Presença de Villa Lobos essay at the Villa-Lobos Website.

So we're left waiting for Sony to release this music on CD - I wonder if that will ever happen? In the meantime, here's a link to the original 16 tracks from the Som Barato MP3 blog. I'll continue watching for the 78s (or the Museu Villa-Lobos LP) on eBay.

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