Heitor Villa-Lobos – Bachianas brasileiras No. 2, The Little Train of the Caipira (finale)
- Born: 1887
- Died: 1959
- Nationality: Brazilian
Why is he a Trailblazer?
It took time for classical orchestras to discover the sounds of Brazilian music.
Trailblazer Heitor Villa-Lobos led the way – bringing the instruments, rhythms and melodies of his home, Brazil, into the concert hall and creating a vibrant, exciting new sound.
Villa-Lobos was born in Rio de Janeiro. He began to learn the cello at the age of six and, as a teenager, enjoyed playing guitar with the street musicians of Rio.
During travels around Brazil, including trips through the Amazon, Villa- Lobos discovered the folk music of his home and the tribal songs of its peoples. The melodies and rhythms he heard helped to shape Villa Lobos’s own musical ideas.
Classical composers like Bach were also very important to Villa-Lobos. The Little Train of the Caipira belongs to the fifth of a series of nine pieces called the ‘Bachianas brasileiras’ that apply the technical ideas of Bach to the Brazilian music Villa-Lobos had come to love.
The Little Train of the Caipira
Villa-Lobos travelled by train on some of his musical adventures through Brazil.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that one of his most famous pieces re-creates the journey of a shuddering, juddering steam train, carrying the ‘caipira’ or ‘people of the countryside’ off to pick berries in the fields.
Villa-Lobos harnesses the musical power of the orchestra to bring the plucky locomotive to life: clarinets and trombones become steam whistles; percussion instruments, like the ganza and reco reco, re-create the clattering, hissing engine; syncopated rhythms propel the wheels; and folk tune-inspired melodies add a distinctive Brazilian flavour.
Why not meet the mysterious A Bao a Qu and discover how Mason Bates uses percussion in amazing ways to dream up a very different musical journey?
Or you could listen to Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach – a composer who was a huge inspiration for Villa-Lobos.
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