On a train with Villa-Lobos

On a train with Villa-Lobos


norman lebrecht

June 12, 2020

The São Paulo University Chamber Orchestra in Brazil has produced a Covid-eo series called “Someone to fight for!”. The first is a train ride on Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras Nº2, talking about hope and diversity.

It quotes other Brazilian musicians (Luiz Gonzaga, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque) during the trip through Brazil. The video opens with a text by the indigenous leader Ailton Krenak (subtitles in English).



  • Edgar Self says:

    A rare and charming kaleidoscope of vast Brasil, its faces and children. Even Enrico Caaruso got as far up the Amazon as Manaus. Brazil isnow being hit hard by the virus. This is a bravely imaginative response.

    Artur Rubinstein played “The Little Train of the Andes”, by Villa-Lobos reminiscent of Rossini’s train pieces. Villa-lobos played cello, guitar, piano, and conducted “Forest of the Amazon”, Bachianas Berasilieras, especially No. 5 with an exploded guitar made of eight cellos; and wrote “Rudepoema” as a musical portrait of Rubinstein, who didn’t recognize himself but played it anyway.

    A link with Brazil is Louis Moreau Gottschalk, who died there attended by Emperor Dom Pedro’s doctor, after writing “Grand Fantasia on the Brazilian National Hymn” played by one of Brazil’s many famous pianists, Guiomar Novaes. Best not to think of it on long rail journeys.

    A word for Bidu Sayao, who helped create Bachianas Five and ‘Forest of the Amazon”, which Renee Fleming has also sung, written for a film never finished … also Nelson Freire, Roberto Szidon, Francesco Mignone, the grandiloquently-named Rhadames Gnattali and his sister Aida.