Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Villa-Lobos, Stokowski and "Native Brazilian Music"

In July 1940 Leopold Stokowski sent two letters to Heitor Villa-Lobos proposing what became the Columbia recording project "Native Brazilian Music".

As Daniella Thompson explains, in her wonderful "Stalking Stokowski", 
Villa-Lobos complied with the conductor’s request and turned for help to his friends, the sambistas Donga, Cartola, and Zé Espinguela, who rounded up the cream of Rio’s musicians. Perhaps only a man of Villa-Lobos’ stature and his close connections to the choro and samba worlds could have assembled such a dream team for Stokowski.
It's quite remarkable that everything happened so quickly: from the first letter at the beginning to July to the recording session in early August! Soon after Stokowski arrived in Rio de Janeiro aboard the S. S. Uruguay, the great musicians gathered by Villa-Lobos and his colleagues boarded the ship in the harbour, and recorded this wonderful music.

The Columbia album cover, released in 1942:

and the Thomaz Ambrosio illustration of Heitor Villa-Lobos, Leopold Stokowski & Donga based upon it.

In 2007, the Library of Congress added "Native Brazilian Music" to its 2006 National Recording Registry.

Villa-Lobos made many friends over the years in the world of music, but one of his closest was Leopold Stokowski. Here are the two in New York, in 1945.