Thursday, August 30, 2018

More about Lenny

The big musical event of this summer was Leonard Bernstein's Centennial on August 25th, and The Villa-Lobos Magazine got into the act with my earlier post about his 1963 Young People's Concert: "The Latin American Spirit". There's great archival information about this concert, and so much more, at the Library of Congress's Leonard Bernstein Collection Online, including these 12 pages of Bernstein's hand-written notes.

As well, Bernstein compiled this list of Villa-Lobos's percussion instruments:

As far as I know, Bernstein in his entire career didn't program any Villa-Lobos pieces other than Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5, either in concert or in the recording studio. This is a shame; he would have been especially good, I think, conducting Bachianas Brasileiras no. 2, 7 and 8, or Uirapuru, such a big hit for Leopold Stokowski. More importantly, I would have liked to hear him conduct a fully-staged version of Villa-Lobos's 1948 musical Magdalena. No less an authority than Richard Rodgers said that Magdalena was 25 years ahead of its time, and saw its influence, eight years after its run on Broadway, in Leonard Bernstein's score for West Side Story.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Lenny explains Villa-Lobos

For the Leonard Bernstein Centennial, a clip from his 1963 Young People's Concert: "The Latin American Spirit".

Here's the performance, by Nethania Davrath and 8 cellists from the New York Philharmonic.

Thanks so much to Rodrigo Roderico for posting these!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Villa-Lobos at Harvard

On February 21, 1945, the Boston Symphony Orchestra performed an all-Villa-Lobos concert at the Saunders Theatre at Harvard, under the direction of the composer himself. The audience was in for a treat: this was the first performance outside of Brazil of Bachianas Brasileiras no. 7, one of Villa's greatest works, and among the best-loved. I'm not sure why only the last two movements were performed; the entire work was played at the world premiere in Rio de Janeiro the previous March. The next work was an even bigger coup for the BSO and Harvard (take that, Yale!): it was a world premiere, of Choros no. 11, written in Rio de Janeiro in 1925.

After the intermission came the orchestral version of Rudepoema which Villa-Lobos had made in 1932 from the original piano piece, written in the period 1921-26, and dedicated to Arthur Rubinstein. This was the third performance; the first was in Rio in 1942, and the second in Los Angeles the previous November. I don't believe there have been too many performances of this odd work since then.

This is a concert that's high on the list I keep next to the controls of my time machine.

Via Boston Symphony Orchestra Digital Archive.

Speaking of which, here's a picture (by an unidentified photographer) from the previous year, of Villa-Lobos in the Green Room at Symphony Hall in Boston.