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More Than Bossa Nova (But We Have That Too)!

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Tomorrow’s opening ceremony kicks off the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A tradition for 120 years, this is the first time that the event will be held in a South American country. In celebration of this historic event, and as a representation of just how international the NLS Music Section is, this blog will highlight some music in our collection from Brazilian composers.

Most of the music in the collection by Brazilian composers was transcribed and made available by the Fundação para o Livro do Cego no Brasil (Foundation of Books for the Blind of Brazil), now known as the Fundação Dorina Nowill para Cegos (Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind). Today, this foundation still provides accessible materials (including music) to blind and visually impaired residents of Brazil.

Composer Heitor Villa-Lobos bows to the public after his concert at the "Ohel Shem" Hall in Tel Aviv, June 1952. Public domain.
Composer Heitor Villa-Lobos bows to the public after his concert at the “Ohel Shem” Hall in Tel Aviv, June 1952. Public domain.

Let’s start our Brazilian tour with one of the country’s most famous composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos. Any student of classical guitar will be familiar with his Five Preludes, written in 1940. This piece can be found in our collection at BRM 17913. We have over 20 more pieces from Villa-Lobos in the collection, including selections from the first series of the piano work A Prole do Bebê (A Baby’s Family).

A contemporary of Villa-Lobos, and arguably the second most famous classical composer to come out of Brazil, is Francisco Mignone. Mignone composed many pieces for orchestra, piano, and even a few ballets. We have a few works by him in the collection, including excerpts from 6 Estudos Transcendentias (Transcendental Etudes) for piano at BRM24485 and BRM34031. We also have a Digital Talking Book that discusses Mignone’s music called Music of Latin America (DBM00226). The Chilean composer Rene Amengual is also profiled is this book.

Cover of score for the opera "Il Guarany," 19th c. Public domain.
Cover of score for the opera “Il Guarany,” 19th c. Public domain.

Oscar Lorenzo Fernández, like Mignone and Villa-Lobos, spent the majority of his compositional life in Rio de Janeiro, and founded the Conservatório Brasileiro de Música in Rio de Janeiro. We have selections from his Suite Brasileira para piano at BRM 24419, BRM24420, and BRM 24540.

Antonio Carlos Gomes, born in Campinas, Brazil, was a contemporary of Verdi and Puccini, and had a striking success in Europe with his opera Il Guarany, premiering in 1870 at La Scala in Milan. We have both piano and accordion arrangements of excerpts from this opera, at BRM 24409 (piano) and BRM 24480 (accordion).

Perhaps the most widely known Brazilian composer here in the US is Antonio Carlos Jobim. Jobim introduced us to the distinctive style of the Brazilian bossa nova, with songs like “Desafinado,” “Wave,” and of course, “The Girl from Ipanema.” We have that last song available in audio format for guitar (DBM02185), piano (DBM02905), and for guitar duo (DBM02339). There is also a braille version for voice and piano at BRM27335.

I sure hope you’ve enjoyed this quick tour through the Brazilian side of our collection! There is much more than what is listed here, so if you are interested in other pieces by these composers, or other music from Central or South America, please contact us. And go Team USA!

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