/

Brazilian Bach performed in rare entirety

by Chiho Iuchi

A concert featuring “Bachianas Brasileiras” (Brazilian Bach pieces) by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos takes place at Tokyo Opera City in Hatsudai on Aug. 22.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Villa-Lobos was taught to play instruments by his father and he taught himself composition.

In his youth, Villa-Lobos delved into Brazil’s dark interior, where he absorbed the indigenous musical culture. His encounters in Rio with French composer Darius Milhaud in 1917 and Polish-born pianist Artur Rubinstein in 1918 led Villa-Lobos to a debut in Paris.

After returning to Brazil, he was active as a conductor, composer and director at a music academy in Rio, premiering J.S. Bach’s Mass in B-minor in Brazil in 1935 and creating more than 1,000 pieces.

Villa-Lobos composed “Bachianas Brasileiras” No. 1-9 for different instruments, from 1930 to 1945, combining elements of the European classical tradition with colorful Brazilian folk music. The best-known is No. 5 for soprano and eight cellos, while No. 9 for choirs is rarely performed for it is so difficult to sing.

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the composer’s death, the upcoming concert provides a rare opportunity to experience a one-day performance of all Brazilian Bach pieces by top Japanese musicians under the baton of Brazilian conductor Roberto Minzuk.

“Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras” takes place at Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall in Hatsudai on Aug. 22 at 2 p.m. Tickets are ¥4,000 to ¥8,000, call (03) 5353-9999. For more details, visit www.operacity.jp