Thursday, September 10, 2009

Two Crown Jewels from Brazil - In Case You Didn't Know...

I recall, during my teaching days, an event which had been arranged by a string player friend of mine to meet some ten or so students from Brazil; specifically from the distinguished Sao Paulo Conservatory, who would be here for about two weeks. I was to give some seminars dealing with the piano repertoire at the school I was teaching. For some reason I cannot recall, these students were not able to come to this country at that particular time, and consequently the seminar never did take place, which was a disappointment, to be sure.
This particular reminiscence prompts me to convey to you ( for those who are not familiar) the existence of two great musicians from Brazil; namely, Bidu Sayao and Heitor Villa - Lobos.
Sayao was one of the twentieth century's reigning singers, with a voice of such luminescence and power, that once heard, it will not be forgotten. She experienced a long and immensely successful career here in America and in Europe, and was considered as one of a handful of memorable sopranos of the century.
Villa - Lobos is considered by many to be the greatest Brazilian composer, with a language of immense individuality. His wonderful pieces for voice, the Bachianas Brasileiras (Brazilian Bach - Pieces) are a wondrous admixture of the Brazilian folk tune and his inextinguishable love for Bach, with the Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5 as the most famous. Look for the fabled performance of Sayao performing this wonderful incarnation.
When performing, I took delight in playing some of the piano music of Villa - Lobos, especially "The Baby's Family", a suite of brief pieces for the piano. Listen to Artur Rubinstein's wonderful performance of "Polichinelle" from that suite.
These two should be held in memory for their great contributions to the world of music.

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