Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Brazil's classical music awards

The Prêmio Carlos Gomes de Ópera & Música Erudita is Brazil's classical music award program.  Nominations for the thirteenth edition of the awards were announced yesterday, and they include some musicians that Villa-Lobos lovers will know well.  I'll highlight a few:
  • Turibio Santos, guitarist and the Director of the Museu Villa-Lobos, is nominated in the Instrumental Soloist category (won last year by Sonia Rubinsky for her Naxos recordings of the complete piano music of Villa-Lobos)
  • Isaac Karabtchevsky is nominated for his DVD of Villa-Lobos's Floresta do Amazonas
  • Quarteto Radamés Gnatalli, for their performance of the complete cycle of Villa-Lobos String Quartets
  • The production of A Menina das Nuvens, Villa's fairy-tale opera presented at the Palácio das Artes in Belo Horizonte, received multiple nominations, including "Espetáculo de Ópera", along with nods for the Orquestra Sinfonica de Minas Gerais and conductor Roberto Duarte, singer Gabriella Pace, and other musicians and technical artists
  • Soprano Eliane Coelho, who'll be featured in the upcoming presentation of Villa's Yerma in Manaus, was nominated for Schoenberg's Erwartung in Belo Horizonte
  • Pianist Nelson Freire was nominated for the Troféu Guarany, which I'm guessing is a kind of life-time achievement award.  This was won last year by the great Villa-Lobos conductor John Neschling.
The award organizers have opened up the polls for online voting here:  Polls will be open until April 25th.

The awards will be announced in the Sala São Paulo on May 5th.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Villa-Lobos gets the Congressional Seal of Approval

Here's an interesting story from Brasília. The Brazilian Congress has approved the first steps to adding Villa-Lobos to the Livro dos Heróis da Pátria - the Book of Heroes of the Fatherland.  Representative Dr. Talma presented the motion, which I gather will be debated, and will then go to the Senate once it is approved.

Here is what the article says about the Book of Heroes (via Google Translate):
The Book of Heroes of the Fatherland is a memorial in the pages of steel with the name of Brazilians who, in life, "contributed to the greatness, pride and glory" of Brazil. It is located in the Pantheon of the Fatherland, monument to freedom and democracy, located in the Plaza of Three Powers in Brasília. Tiradentes, Zumbi dos Palmares, Placido de Castro, Santos-Dumont are some of the names inscribed in the Book of Heroes.
One of the pleasurable side-effects of my Villa-Lobos researches is that I'm learning more about Brazilian history and culture. I knew a little about Alberto Santos-Dumont, who made the world's first public flight in an airplane, on October 23, 1906.  This is a very engaging individual.  Though admittedly from a wealthy family, it says a lot about Santos-Dumont that he donated half of a big prize he won in an early dirigible contest to the poor of Paris, and distributed the rest to his mechanics.  It's sad that he ended up killing himself, depressed by his multiple sclerosis and by the use of airplanes to kill thousands in wars.

Zumbi dos Palmares, the "black leader of all the nations", is a fascinating figure from the second half of the 17th century.  From the stronghold of  Quilombo dos Palmares, a republic the size of Portugal near Bahia, Zumbi led a spirited resistance against the Portuguese government.  His warriors were skilled in capoeira, Brazil's home-grown martial art.  Zumbi was eventually captured and beheaded, though his martyrdom was the inspiration for many future struggles.

Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, known as Tiradentes, was a revolutionary from the same generation as the American Founding Fathers and the French Revolutionaries. From what I've read in the Wikipedia article, he seems somewhat like the Canadian Louis Riel; both were hanged by their governments, and the names of both have lived on as heroes.

Finally, José Plácido de Castro led the successful resistance of Acre against Bolivia in the late 1800s.  He became President and Father of his Country in 1900, when he was only 27 years old, and Governor of the State when it was annexed to Brazil three years later.  He was only 35 years old when he was ambushed and assassinated by rivals.  Though Plácido de Castro doesn't have his own article in the English Wikipedia, a life like this really deserves one - here is the Portuguese entry.

Here is the Panteão da Pátria (Pantheon of the Fatherland) Tancredo Neves, in the Praça dos Três Poderes (Plaza of Three Powers) in Brasília - home of the Book of Heroes, from the Wikimedia Commons:

This is pretty impressive company, even for a larger-than-life figure like Heitor Villa-Lobos!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Lost 6th Prelude Found? [Nope]

What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. - Matthew 18:12-13
I was excited to read this tweet from Brazilian guitarist Alvaro Henrique today:
@alvaroguitar Achado o 6o Prelúdio para Violão de Heitor Villa-Lobos!
Alvaro links to this post at the forum

Is it really true that the missing 6th Prelude of Villa-Lobos has been found?  This being April Fool's Day, I was immediately suspicious that this most important Villa-Lobos find ever might be a joke. As I said in a message to Alvaro, it sounds too good to be true. Here, thanks to Google Translate, is the gist of the story.

The Brazilian rock musician Dado Villa-Lobos and his brother Luis Octavio Villa-Lobos, grand-nephews of the composer, were looking through some papers of their father, the diplomat Jayme Villa-Lobos. There they found the score to the missing Sixth Prelude (left behind in Paris when Villa-Lobos & Mindinha returned to Brazil), as well as other works for guitar, including a complete version of Valsa de Concerto no 2. Also found were sketches for a symphony Villa-Lobos had planned in honour of Brasilia. Unfortunately, the composer died before the symphony (and the city) could be completed.

According to Alvaro's post the found Prelude will be played by guitarist Marcus Moraes at the next meeting of Associação Brasiliense de Violão (BRAVIO), on April 10th.

Boy, it's hard enough for me to keep from getting tricked in my own language.  If I have to get to Google Translate to help, I may be in trouble!  I will keep you all posted!

April 5: Well, yeah, it was a joke.  Alvaro tweeted this:
@alvaroguitar @villa_lobos Vill Unfortunately it is a April Fool's Day joke... Too good to be true! 
Of course, it seems obvious now.  The Villa-Lobos in-laws who are likely to have lost scores would be Guimares, the families of the brothers of Villa's first wife Lucilia.  Good joke!