Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Villa-Lobos and the City of Brotherly Love

This photograph from the De Agostini collection shows Heitor Villa-Lobos with the Philadelphia Orchestra's Eugene Ormandy; it's dated 1945. This is a standard trope for Villa-Lobos photos: the composer demonstrating Brazilian percussion instruments. I'm assuming that this was taken in Rio de Janeiro, from the instruments and the big map of Brazil on the wall behind the two musicians. They had recently been hanging out together in the States; Ormandy was one of the celebrities - along with Nelson Rockefeller, Leopold Stokowski, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, Arturo Toscanini and Yehudi Menuhin - at a Farewell Luncheon for Villa-Lobos in February, 1945.

The main later connection between Villa-Lobos and Ormandy came in 1952, when the Philadelphia Orchestra commissioned Villa's 9th Symphony. There's apparently a copy of the original score in the Eugene Ormandy Collection at the University of Pennsylvania, but I don't believe this work has ever been played in the City of Brotherly Love. The première of the Symphony had to wait until 1966, when Ormandy conducted the work in Caracas during a Latin American tour of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Philadelphia can also take credit for the 8th Symphony, from 1950; Villa-Lobos himself conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra in the première, though, oddly, this was in New York.

Ormandy made no commercial recordings of Villa-Lobos; however there is a Test Pressing disc in the Eugene Ormandy Collection of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a suite from Descobrimento do Brasil, a recording from a October 10, 1941 concert. I'd love to hear that! The city of Philadelphia had special meaning for Villa-Lobos because of the connection with Leopold Stokowski, who conducted a number of Villa-Lobos American premières going back to the 1920s.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Ciclo Brasileiro from Brasília

It's so nice to hear Sonia Rubinsky play Villa-Lobos. Thanks to Rodrigo Roderico for posting this recent video of the Ciclo Brasileiro, from a 2018 concert at the Banquet Hall of Itamaraty Palace

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Choros no. 9 from Caracas

File this under "Great Villa-Lobos Works I've Never Heard Before". This is Choros no. 9, from 1942. It's played by the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra under Roberto Tibiriçá, in Simón Bolívar Hall, Caracas, 2010. I've heard it before, but of course never live! Another great video from Rodrigo Roderico!