5 March 1887 - 17 November 1959 (age 72)

Villa-Lobos is Brazil's best known and most loved composer. He was largely self-taught and composed over 2000 works which are a blend of Brazilian folk music and western classical.






Portrait by Paul Helm

portrait of Villa-Lobos

Born: 5 March 1887, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 
Father: Raul, civil servant, librarian, amateur astronomer and talented musician.
Mother: Noemia Umbelina
Siblings: 2 sisters Bertha (Lulucha) and Carmen (Bilita)
Wife: Lucília Guimarães (teacher and pianist) Left her in 1936
Partner: from 1936 Arminda Neves d'Almedia writer
Children: None
Died: 17 Nov 1959
Cause of Death: Kidney problems.
Grave: Cemitério São João Batista Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro


Bachianas Brasileiras (12)
Band Works (7)
Chamber Music (64)
Choral Works (45)
Choros (19)
Concertos (21)
Guitar Works (9)
Orchestral Works (74) including 
Piano Works (56)
Stage Works (8)
Vocal Works (52)
(courtesy the Villa-Lobos website

Villa-Lobos in Art
art, caricatures, stamps, album covers etc


"My music is natural, like a waterfall."

"One foot in the academy and you are changed for the worst!"

"Villa-Lobos was larger than life, quite extraordinary. He didn't seem to be a composer. He wore loud checked shirts, smoked a cigar, and always kept the radio on, listening to the news or light music or whatever. Villa-Lobos wasn't refined in the intellectual sense, but he had a great heart." (Julian Bream)

"Why is it that whenever I hear a piece of music I don't like, it's always by Villa Lobos?"(Igor Stravinsky)

Little Train of Caipira from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 2
played by the National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain.


Early years: Father taught him the cello
Age 12: Father died. His mother pressured him to study medicine but he kept to his music. He earned a living playing his cello in bars and clubs.
He studied briefly at the National Institute of Music in Rio de Janeiro
Age 18 - 25: left home and travelled around Brazil experiencing its native folk music.
Age 25: Married 
Age 26 Returned to Rio
Age 28 - First concert
age 36 Moved to Paris where his music was well received and he became a popular figure.
Age 43 Returned to Brazil 
Age 45 Appointed Director of Music and Artistic Education
Age 49 Left his wife and moved in with Arminda Neves
Age 56 Honorary degrees from universities of New York and Los Angeles. Performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Age 58 Appointed President of the Brazilian Academy of Music
Age 67 Visit to Israel
Age 72 (1959) Died in Rio.

Bachianas Brasileiras N 5
sung by Ana Maria Martínez conducted by Gustavo Dudamel

Choro No.1
Guitarra: David Russell

Links, sources and where to go for more information

The Villa-Lobos website

Answers.com various reference sites including Wikipedia

Magazine/blog a brief bio


Wall Street Journal - an article

wrightmusic.net - an interesting article by David Wright

DSO Kids

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Villa-Lobos - Uma Vida de Paixão (Villa-Lobos - A Life of Passion)
Biopic by Zelito Viana (2000)
(click on image)

Photography Prints