Baixa Sorocabana, July/August, 1931
Salto de Itu
The first city of this region was Salto de Itu, now just “Salto.” The concert didn’t arouse much interest among the people, being the first city in the region where the Villa-Lobos excursion performed. Perhaps this was because of lack of publicity by the organizing commission, and also for lack of commentary from neighboring cities.
Our reception and the concert were similar, few people at the station, few people at the concert. It was one of the least attended concerts until that time, although with a public that knew how to applaud.
In this fourth stage, the singer Nair Duarte Nunes returned, all completely recovered, stronger, less thin, with more vitality and a better disposition.
We had the opportunity of visiting the falls that gave the city its name [“salto” means falls].
This was a city I already knew well. I was in this city working at the Colégio Nossa Senhora do Patrocinio when I was urgently called upon to join the Villa-Lobos excursion. The concert and our reception were very good. We had the opportunity to visit the quarters of the 4th Regiment of Artillery.
With Dona Lucilia and Nair Duarte Nunes, we visited the Colégio Nossa Senhora do Patrocinio, so that the sisters could get to know members of the excursion.
A large, industrialized city. Our reception was very good, and the concert was applauded with enthusiasm. Villa-Lobos, very gratified, gave a beautiful lecture, speaking very calmly, always showing his interest in Brazilian music. He received much applause.
For the concert, in a cinema, we mounted a platform, because it didn’t have a stage.
The great acoustic effect which resulted from the platform, with its twelve gasoline drums, made Villa-Lobos decide that we should do this even where there was a large enough stage.
We arrived in São Roque on a day of intense cold. At our arrival, an enormous crowd awaited us. There were many flowers for the ladies. The hotel, constructed of wood, was filled with flowers.
For the concert, the platform was mounted by order of Villa-Lobos, in spite of the cinema having a stage large enough for the piano.
It was the month of August. That night, at the time of the concert, it was tremendously cold. The artists had to stay wrapped up and with gloves on until the moment they went on stage. The program was the first, as in the previous three cities. There was plenty of enthusiasm on the part of the public, with much applause. The lecture by Villa-Lobos was also appreciated. The reception was short, and everyone soon left due to the cold. I also, after completing my duties with the piano, went to bed. But who could speak of sleep! It was so cold, with an icy breeze that came through the window sills and the cracks around the doors, that it was impossible to sleep, in spite of the bedcovers. Early morning, on arising, what a surprise! The fields and the roofs of the buildings were all white, covered with a heavy frost.
We still visited the country house of the Prefect before resuming our journey.
City of the Bandeirantes [more or less “pioneers”]. In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the members of the “Paschoal M. Cabral” Bandeira, which came from São Paulo, made a stop here, and later went upriver to get to the State of Mato Grosso. Afterward, they cut through the forest to reach as far as Cuiabá. They were looking for gold, metals, and precious stones, seeking riches. They also captured Indians and took them to São Paulo to work as slaves.
We were on the banks of the river, where we photographed one of the barges used by these bandeirantes. It is being preserved, so that it won’t deteriorate over time, in order to preserve the memory of that historic period.
The city is old, small, but with a people who love music very much. They received Villa-Lobos and his companions affectionately, and applauded the concert with enthusiasm.
The reception was served in a bar with billiards, the best and finest of the city. After the reception, in conversation with a member of the commission, we learned that he was the city champion in billiards.
Villa-Lobos challenged him to a little match. He was accepted, and the said champion started off gaining a certain number of points. When he made an error, Villa-Lobos started, very calmly, playing slowly, always with a cigar in his mouth. He was playing and counting: five points; ten points; twenty points; forty points; eighty points; one hundred points; end of match. Everyone complimented him for having this additional skill. The loser also complimented him, and added the following, “I wish the maestro could only play music!”
On the same occasion, someone showed up playing guitar. Villa-Lobos soon said, “I also play this.” And he took the guitar in his hands. First he tuned it, and then began to play. He played classical music he had composed, popular pieces, modinhas of the time with variations, cirandas of children, etc. It was like a second concert. In a little while, people began arriving and the billiard hall became an auditorium. He went on playing and talking until the early morning. Everyone was enchanted. On leaving, they all gave cordial farewells, Villa-Lobos saying, on returning the guitar to its owner, “This is like a cachaça [Brazilian hard liquor], when you start, you can’t stop.”
Tiete, Laranjal (today Laranjal Paulista), Conchas, and other cities. Concerts with the second and third program. Nothing of importance to report.
A very old city, with many schools. At our arrival, a large number of students was waiting in the station, along with the reception commission and the people. We were lodged in a very good hotel. In that hotel, Villa-Lobos nearly “blew up” with the waiter on account of his coffee. He would only drink his coffee if it was extremely strong. If not, he would return it, asking for a stronger one. Well, in this hotel he returned it three times. He was already getting angry with the waiter, but he kept it under control, perhaps remembering Batatais. Finally, the fourth coffee arrived, and it was to his taste. Villa-Lobos had already calmed down. He thanked the waiter, and even gave him a tip for having been so patient. That is the way Villa-Lobos was. He was quick to calm down, and also quick to get angry.
The concert took place on a very good stage. Villa-Lobos and Nair D. Nunes were appreciated mostly by the students. Souza Lima got a standing ovation and had to play an encore.
It was the 15th of August. The 16th would be my father’s 75th birthday. Villa-Lobos gave me leave to return to São Paulo to spend the day with him, and to return on the 17th, when we would resume our journey. I was very grateful for this gesture, not only to Villa-Lobos, but to Dona Lucilia, who urged that I should go.
On the appointed day we resumed our journey in accordance with our established routine. At the time when we were to get on the train, another “blow up” of Villa-Lobos occurred. The station chief didn’t want to accept the pass that he presented, saying that he wasn’t able to, that he didn’t have authorization for this. Villa-Lobos showed a copy of the circular telegram which the government of the State of São Paulo had sent to all the railroads of the State. As the chief didn’t want to recognize the telegram in Villa-Lobos’ hands, not having been received his own copy, he refused to furnish the tickets.
Then Villa-Lobos “shot through the roof.” “Do you understand that I am Villa-Lobos?” he shouted in an angry tone. The chief responded, “And I am the chief of this station!” The situation was becoming ugly, with other passengers also wanting to get their tickets, and curious bystanders all around, when Souza Lima intervened to calm things down. He asked the chief to read over the papers, since we had already gone for seven months with this authorization, and it couldn’t be possible that only this station, which is such an important one, shouldn’t have received the order. He added that he would give his personal guarantee for the expense, if the railroad didn’t receive compensation from the government for these tickets and for the shipping of the piano.
While Souza Lima was talking to the station chief, the telegram, which had been misfiled, turned up. Everything being resolved satisfactorily, we continued our journey.
São Miguel, Lençois, Agudos
Like other cities, Tatuí also received the excursion with many people at the station, flowers, and a band.
The concert was much applauded. Nair D. Nunes and Souza Lima were recalled many times to the stage. Villa-Lobos was also well applauded, mostly for his lecture.
The commission of Tatuí was so helpful that they offered to take the whole entourage and the piano, by automobile, to Itapetininga.
On our arrival, we found, at the entrance to the city, all the students of the local Normal School, male and female, lined up in their beautiful uniforms. After a brief greeting by the commission, not yet getting out of our cars, we proceeded into the prefecture, accompanied in procession by that group of students and by a crowd of people.
In front of the Prefecture came the official greeting. The Prefect made a presentation to each of the members of the tour, one by one. The chorus of the school sang a piece whose name I don’t remember.
We were lodged in one of the best hotels in the city, and the artists rested a little, while Villa-Lobos made his customary visit to the theater to verify the acoustic conditions. I oversaw the installation of the piano on the stage, this time with less work, as the piano came directly by truck to the theater. The stage was very good and spacious, the piano having been set up without any trouble. The acoustics were also good, without needing to remove any drapery.
The concert was applauded with much warmth. The theater was completely packed. All the artists were a success. In his lecture, Villa-Lobos, always friendly with children, young people and students, said some beautiful words to them, stimulating them to dedicate themselves to Brazilian music.
At the end, the compliments, autographs, receptions, and rest before resuming our journey.
Buri, Itapeva, Itararé
Last cities of this fourth stage. Normal concert, without any important novelty. We returned to São Paulo.