Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Philip Glass and Villa-Lobos

The 1993 album Águas da Amazônia brought together the Brazilian instrumental group Uakti and composer Philip Glass. The music was originally written by Glass for the Grupo Corpo ballet group of Belo Horizonte. In the first piece on the album, entitled Tiquiê River, Glass borrows from, or pays homage to, Villa-Lobos. That seems at first a natural connection, since Villa-Lobos has always been connected with the Amazon. However, the piece in question is Villa's desert-themed 2nd movement from Bachianas Brasileiras no. 4, Coral (Canto do sertão). The sertão is the dry region of North-Eastern Brazil.

By the way, I see that Uakti and Philip Glass will be together on stage for the first time, performing Águas da Amazônia in May 2016 at the 92nd Street Y in New York. More information here.

This isn't the only connection between Glass and Villa-Lobos. Glass links his 2nd Symphony, written at about the same time, to the polytonal music of the 1930s and 40s, specifically referring, in his liner notes to the Nonesuch recording (pictured below), to Honegger, Milhaud and Villa-Lobos.

Here's the 1st movement of that very interesting symphony, played by the Bournemouth Symphony under Marin Alsop, from a 2004 Naxos album:


  1. I love Villa-Lobos Brasileiras no. 4, Coral. When I listened to Tiquie River by Glass,I could tell that was Villa-Lobos' theme. That definitely one of the best pieces vy Villa-Lobos. Thanks for sharing this info.