Music recorded by Fred Sturm

Villa-Lobos Miudinho (Bachianas 4/4)

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Approval of the Idea, Elaboration, and the Objectives of the Project

 

            Supporting the idea of Villa-Lobos, to carry out an artistic tour through the interior of the state of São Paulo, the Interventor asked him to present a detailed plan of what he intended to do.

            In the formulation of the project, Villa-Lobos gave the intention of taking his music to the farthest reaches of the state of São Paulo, and, at the same time, of bringing to the inhabitants of those places contact with musical works of great genius, and also with great Brazilian artists. He would show how a musical concert was presented, musical instruments like the cello and grand piano, “which many people aren’t familiar with,” the stage, acoustics, lighting, and silence. It would be called “EXCURSÃO ARTISTICA VILLA-LOBOS.”

            The artists would be: him, playing cello, his wife Dona Lucilia Villa-Lobos, piano accompanist, along with a helper to turn the pages; a classical singer and a concert pianist.

            There also needed to be as part of the team a tuner technician to take care of the piano, and a secretary to organize the concerts in the various cities. The team would travel only by train. It would need a small rail car to carry the piano from city to city.

            Its concerts would be presented in all the cities of the interior of the state.

            All that was needed was the patronage of the Interventor, free passage on the railroads to any city, and free freight for the transport of the piano. All this without any subsidy from the government.           

            The prefectures which presented the concert in their cities would furnish: the theater for the concert; a truck with several men to transport the piano from the railcar to the theater and back. Also without any subsidy. They would also be charged with selling tickets. The ticket proceeds would revert to the Excursion as income to pay the artists and for other expenses.

            Villa-Lobos attended an audience in the Palacio dos Campos Elíseos and was received personally by the Interventor Lieutenant João Alberto. He then presented the project he proposed to undertake with the Excursion, and guaranteed its success.

            The Interventor, who was a music lover and composer of several pieces for piano, quickly accepted the plan, especially because it was aimed at the interior of the state.

            He ordered his adjutant to send a circular telegram to all the railroads that operated in the state of São Paulo, containing authorization to furnish on account of the state, seven first class tickets with right to beds, cushions, and in Pullman cars, and meals in the dining car for all.

            The requisitions, on the stationary of the Palace of the Interventor, were assigned to Villa-Lobos for six people, and one additional for Cleto Rocha, because he had to travel separately from the team.

            To all the Prefectures was sent a letter, asking them to welcome the Excursão Villa-Lobos in their cities in official character, to furnish lodging for seven people for three days, the theater, and to undertake the organization of the concert. They should furnish a truck with several men to move the piano from the station to the theater and back. And that the expenses should be paid by the Prefecture, and ticket proceeds should go to the Excursão for income and expenses.

 

Organization of the Excursion, Selection and Invitation of the Artists to Participate in this Tour

 

            With a green light from the Interventor’s Palace, Villa-Lobos began to organize his team. The excursion would be called “Excursão Artistica Villa-Lobos.”

            For the cello, without any question, he himself would be the soloist. For piano accompaniment, his first wife, Dona Lucilia Villa-Lobos. For a singer, what was needed was someone with both a classical and a folk repertory. Among others, Nair Duarte Nunes was chosen. And for piano? The biggest names of the time were Guiomar Novaes Pinto, Magdalena Tagliaferro, Antonieta Rudge and João de Souza Lima, who had returned recently from Europe with the grand prize of the Conservatoire de Musique in Paris. Guiomar Novaes was invited, but couldn’t accept due to commitments in São Paulo and in the United States. Antonieta Rudge was selected, agreeing to go on just a portion of the excursion. She had a single daughter, Helena, whom we couldn’t leave alone in São Paulo. She needed to come along, and could be made use of as page turner of the piano accompanist.

            Villa-Lobos, very satisfied at having resolved the most important part of the excursion, that of the artists, turned to look for a secretary/impresario: Senhor Cleto Rocha, married to his niece Clélia, a functionary of the railroad Viaçao Sul Mineira. He lived and worked in Cruzeiro, and would serve well.

            It would be the duty of the secretary to get in contact with the Prefects of the various cities, in the first place to find out whether they wanted the excursion to present a concert in their city.

            If so, he would need to arrange with the Prefect for the reception, hotel reservations, the theater, printing of posters, announcements, and everything else necessary so that the concert would be a success.

            It was also necessary to arrange for tickets to be sold in advance. For this purpose, the secretary would need to be in the city ten to fifteen days before the date of each concert. When the team arrived, they would find everything ready. The excursion would be divided into several stages. Always with the help of Dona Lucilia, the organization went smoothly.

            He turned next to the instruments. The cello he had was very good. He simply needed to have an acoustic platform built, on which to play. And the piano?

            When he was in Paris, he got from the Gaveau factory a beautiful parlor grand piano, of special construction. Among other improvements, it had an ivory keyboard and something very few pianos have: seven and a half octaves instead of seven and a fourth, or ninety keys in place of eighty-eight, as pianos commonly have. This piano was kept in a furniture storage facility of a moving company in Rio de Janeiro.

            Villa-Lobos didn’t want to use this piano because it was merely a parlor grand. He wanted a full concert grand piano, to better enhance the concerts.

            The Piano Brasil Company rented him a vertical piano, a small one, for use in his apartment in the Hotel Regina, in São Paulo, where he lived.

            And so he thought he would contact Senhor Tirso Capiluppi, sales director of the company, to ask for the loan of a concert grand piano for the concert, and for a tuner technician to care for it during the journey, and in turn he would promote Piano Brasil.

            The Piano Brasil Company did not manufacture this model of piano. So Senhor Tirso Capiluppi said to him, “Maestro, use your own piano. It will give very good results. A concert grand piano, even if we had one, would cause you many difficulties. A piano of this size is very large and very heavy, and very problematic for the service you require. I know very well the interior of the state and the difficulties of transporting pianos.” And he added, “I will provide you a fine technician to take care of your piano, and in turn we will receive good publicity for Piano Brasil. I will send you António Chechim Filho, a technician able to prepare pianos for great artists.”

            Villa-Lobos accepted the suggestion of Senhor Capiluppi, and considered the question closed. “Two birds killed with one stone,” he had resolved the question of both piano and technician.

            And so now Villa-Lobos got to work. He obtained from the Viação Sul Mineira Railroad an indefinite leave of absence for his nephew Cleto Rocha. Cleto, given leave, went into action immediately. Within a few days, he was already in Campinas, preparing for the opening concert. This concert was planned for the second half of February, just after Carnaval.

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