Ramal de Bauru and Araraquarense Railroad, November, 1931
Returning to the battle for the sixth stage, we traveled directly from São Paulo to the transfer station for the Ramal de Bauru Railroad, one meter gauge.
Railroad junction city. Life there revolves around the railroad. The first concert of this stage was reasonable in success and attendance.
In general, the first cities of each stage were always a little weak. As we went on our journey, the next cities would receive feedback and information concerning our excursion, making them more interested. Thus, the applauses would be more vibrant.
Continuing our journey, we stopped in Itápolis, Tabatinga, Brotas, Torrinha, Dois Córregos, Jaú, Bocaina, and Pederneiras. In all these cities, nothing was important enough to be worth relating, because I don’t have any specific memory of them. Certainly the concerts were normal, with success and enthusiam, like the others.
In Bauru, we were lodged in a very good hotel, Hotel Central, which still exists today, on Rua 1o de Agosto.
About this hotel, what I remember is that, due to an oversight by the commission, no room was reserved for Kekim! The hotel was completely full. The result? The first night Kekim had to sleep under the stairway that went to the second floor.
About the concert, it must have been normal. Nothing remarkable occurs to me.
TRENZINHO DO CAIPIRA
Returning from Bauru en route to Araraquara, Villa-Lobos, well accommodated in his seat of the passenger car, decided to write a piece of music. He said, “I am going to write a piece. It will be called the Trenzinho do Caipira [Little Train of the yokel].” He took from his briefcase a sheet of staff paper and a pencil, and began to write. It seemed as if he was writing a letter. But it wasn’t, no. It was music! The train ran, swaying to and fro, the car was completely full, with many children, some of them crying from time to time, and it was very hot. Villa-Lobos went on writing. Almost at the end of the journey, the piece was ready. It was a cello solo for him to play, and with a part for piano accompaniment. After the journey was finished, and after a bit of retouching at the piano, the piece was ready to be performed. Wasn’t he a genius?
First city of the Araraquara Railroad. A large crowd awaited us on the station platform. For the concert, in the cinema, we put up our platform, although the stage was large enough to hold the piano.
The concert was very good, with the second program. For the first time, Villa-Lobos played his Trenzinho do Caipira. Dona Lucilia, the piano accompanist, had a few difficulties. The music was very new, with scarcely one read through. She missed the beat a few times, which got her a very rude remark from the maestro at the end of the performance.
The theater was filled. The public of this city, which loves music very much, applauded with great enthusiasm.
A very pretty city. Nothing important to record, except that the concert was again well applauded.
We went on to Santa Adélia and Pindorama, two tiny cities, with the third program.
Soon after we left Taquaritinga, a new problem arose: dust. From Taquaritinga on, the track wasn’t covered. The ties that secure the rails lay directly on the earth, unlike the earlier portion, where they were laid on gravel.
While the train was running, it raised a cloud of dust that came in the windows. The composition of trains on this railroad was contrary to that of other railroads. The first class cars were attached after the baggage cars, and at the end of the train came the second class cars, suffering even worse from the dust. It was necessary to travel with the windows closed to keep out some of the dust and the cinders that came out of the boiler, looking like fireworks. The reason for so many cinders: they used wood instead of coal to heat the boiler.
We finally arrived at this city covered in dust. The shoulders of our jackets and our hats were red with dust. The women, with their clothes all dirty, their hair matted, and the skin of their faces dried by the dust, needed to wash their faces with cotton and oxygenated water. The heat of the high sun ground the dust even more into our faces. It was a miserable journey. Travelers who were used to this line wore a duster made of washable fabric, which they wore over their clothing, and at the end of the journey they removed it, without having got so filthy.
At last, the hour of debarkation came. The organizing commission of the concert, and a great crowd of people filled the stations. We were in a tizzy. How could we present ourselves so dirty? There was no solution. We simply had to get off even if we were dirty. The people of Catanduva thought it perfectly natural. They were accustomed to it. They knew their own railroad.
Lodged in a regular hotel, we bathed immediately, changed clothing, and were ready for our task. Villa-Lobos visited the theater, and I got the piano to the theater, set up the platform, tuned, etc.
All our sacrifice was well compensated by the concert, which was very well applauded. Villa-Lobos, after his lecture, played Trenzinho do Caipira, his composition, still in manuscript.
The piece reflected well the little train on which we traveled. The whistle of departure, the discharge of air, the brakes, and the departure. Starting with a strong beat, slowly, gaining speed, hitting the maximum, where it stays for a while. You can hear clearly the beating of the joints of the track. A climbing with force and loss of speed, a descent at great speed. Entrance into a tunnel, with the muffled sound found there, and after emerging, stronger. At the end, the whistle of arrival. Slowing down, coming to a stop. You hear the beating of one car against another.
There was much applause, at the close of the concert, for Alegria na Horta, by Villa Lobos, played by Souza Lima. The insistent applause made him return to the stage several times. The people of Catanduva were very appreciative of classical music.
A superb reception, a day of rest with a few visits, and a new journey, confronting for hours and hours the dust of the line until arriving at Rio Preto.
Today it is called São José do Rio Preto. A very beautiful city, with grand hotels, bars, nightclubs, a casino, and a very good theater. It was one of the few cities we visited that had an intense night life.
Our arrival at the city was no different from the others. The concert took place on the platform, in spite of the good quality of the theater. There wasn’t a great need, but Villa-Lobos wanted to put it up, because the theater was rather large, and the platform amplified the sound a great deal. We had enough wood for this, the wood we got from the Prefecture of Ourinhos, and which always traveled with the piano.
The concert, one more success by Villa-Lobos with his cello and Trenzinho do Caipira.
The lecture was also well appreciated. He spoke passionately, and emphasized the value of Brazilian artists, and notably the patriotism that led him to organize this excursion. “National artists and musicians, great geniuses of music, must make themselves known in all the cities of São Paulo,” he said.
Nair D. Nunes was much applauded for the song A Casinha da Colina. What to say then about Souza Lima, closing with the Campanella of Liszt-Busoni?
The reception was held at a fine ice cream store on the plaza.
We also visited the casino, but nobody wanted to bet on roulette. We stayed more than one day in this city. We were supposed to go also to Mirassol, a city next to Rio Preto, which was beginning to grow. At the last minute, the concert was cancelled. I don’t know the reason.
This was the end of the sixth stage. We got on that little train en route to São Paulo, with a stop at Araraquara. More than eight hours of dust, heat, and hot sun entering through the windows. The car super-full, with many children.
Souza Lima had the idea of asking Villa-Lobos to compose a more accessible piece, for him to perform at the next concerts, where the public didn’t appreciate classical works. Villa-Lobos thought it was a superb idea. He took his staff paper and pencil, to write whatever motive came to him, and immediately began to write. It is incredible how, between stops of the train, with vendors of pastries, oranges, etc., hawking their wares, Villa-Lobos wrote the piece. Caixinha de Música Quebrada, he called it. And he wrote at the bottom, “for Souza Lima to play.”
Villa-Lobos, knowing that everyone would arrive in Araraquara totally covered in dust, and not wanting to change to the Paulista Railroad train in this state, he thought to stop a while at the home of Dr. Mílton Fonseca, who was a great friend, for a bath and a change of clothes. He sent a telegram to Dr. Fonseca, saying the following: “We return from Rio Preto, we will go to your house, prepare baths.” Villa-Lobos loved this kind of tirade. I myself sent the telegram in Rio Preto.
On our arrival in Araraquara, we found Dr. Mílton waiting for us at the station. He took us to his home, and suggested we spend the night, and go on the next day. He served us a grand Bahian dinner, prepared under the direction of his wife.
Dr. Milton was very happy because, in addition to receiving our visit a second time, he also had the great pleasure of receiving in his house the pianist Souza Lima and his wife Da. Maria and the singer Anita Gonçalves.
After dinner, they made a little music, Villa-Lobos playing O Trenzinho, and Souza Lima a few pieces.
Very satisfied by our gathering, we rested a little to resume our journey next day to São Paulo.
Central Railroad of Brazil, December, 1931
First city of this stage, with nothing important to report. The concert must have been normal.
São José dos Campos
Normal concert, as in other cities. Among other visits, we went to the Institute of Aeronautical Technology (ITA) which later became CTA. There we were served a luncheon with all the professors and students. Villa-Lobos dispensed with the protocol of having a special table. At “chow” time, there we were in line with our trays in hand! The kitchen staff served each one of us as we passed through. After getting our food, we sat at a table with some professors and the people of the commission who had accompanied us. All of us found this type of meal congenial. It was a departure from our routine of almost a year, having meals, sometimes rather sophisticated, in hotels and restaurants.
Campos do Jordão, Caçapava, Taubaté, Tremembé, and Pindamonhangaba
All these cities with nothing different to relate, if not for the success of the concerts. In Caçapava, we visited the quarters of the 4th Infantry Regiment. In Taubaté we visited the Colégio das Irmãs de São José, Nossa Senhora do Bom Conselho. I had been caring for the thirty-six pianos at this college for a number of years.
In this city, in a very good municipal theater, the concerts took place with a large public and with great enthusiasm, Souza Lima getting a standing ovation, returning several times to the stage to acknowledge it.
At the beginning of the second part after the maestro’s lecture, during his performance on cello, two people had a disagreement up in the balcony, and argued very quietly. Leaving the area, they gave vent to their anger, now in loud voices. Several people, wanting to calm them, said, “Up there you were discussing this very calmly and quietly. Why are you so angry now?” They responded, “Up there we couldn’t disturb the music of the maestro.” Certainly Villa-Lobos must have spoken, as was his custom, about having silence in the audience during the concert. At last, everything calmed down, and the two returned to attend the concert.
On that same night, during the vocal number of Nair Duarte Nunes, there was release of gas in the theater, that, from such a bad smell, obliged her to cut short her program. It must have been a prank of very bad taste, or some kind of sabotage. But Souza Lima played in spite of the bad smell, and was much applauded.
Lorena and Piquete
Two cities with success equal to the others. Nothing important to report. In Piquete, the organizing commission was comprised entirely of military graduates and their wives. We were invited to visit a factory of explosives and munitions for the army.
Today it is called Cachoeira Paulista. It was a dairy city at that time, depending almost exclusively on milk products, like most of the cities in the Paraíba valley. There was even a daily train, called the milk train, which collected the milk of the various cities to transport it to São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro.
At our arrival there was a surprise. The station platform, instead of being filled with people, as usual, was full of milk cans. It was the time when milk was loaded. The commission met us almost in the middle of the cans, but most of the people and the band were outside, in front of the station, to salute our arrival.
This city was one of the few in which it was necessary to set up the platform.
In the concert, all the artists were appreciated, and applauded with enthusiasm.
It wasn’t necessary to reload the piano in the railcar that night, because we were staying the next day for some visits, including to a factory of dairy products.
I took part in the reception. The commission, which was composed of several young single women and some married couples, decided to have two tables, one for the artists and the married couples, the other for the single women. Since I was the only young man, and single, I was invited to sit with the young women, and was very happy about this! It is necessary to say that I was royally served, and with much kindness. From this day on, Souza Lima called me “Kekim the lady killer” [“Kekim das moças”]. The other artists joined him, and I became “Kekim the lady killer” until the end of the excursion!
My home town. It was also where our secretary, Cleto Rocha, lived. The reception at our arrival was organized by Cleto Rocha himself. A multitude was on the station platform waiting for us.
There were many flowers for the ladies. A band saluted the artists. The prefect, authorities, and the organizing commission complimented everyone as we disembarked.
The concert was in a cinema on the principal plaza. It was entirely filled. Trenzinho do Caipira by Villa-Lobos was a success, played by himself on cello. Souza Lima was thunderously applauded for the Campanella of Liszt-Busoni, closing the concert. Many compliments and autographs, and a tasty reception, prepared by Cleto Rocha, in the best bar of the city.
On the next day, we stayed in Cruzeiro, for some visits, including to the family of Cleto Rocha, whose wife, Clélia, was a niece of the maestro.
Last city of the seventh stage. A small city, nestled between the mountains of Serra do Mar. Very beautiful. The concert was in a small cinema. It was necessary to put up the platform. All the artists were greatly applauded. The people of this city liked music. We noticed that in all of the cities of this stage the people appreciated music very much.
The seventh stage was complete. We returned to São Paulo.