Villa-Lobos, Heitor, Brazilian composer, conductor, cellist, and classical guitarist (1887-1959) 12 typed letters signed and 1 portrait photograph signed.

Rio de Janeiro, New York, and Los Angeles, 1944-1955.

4to and 8vo. Together 10½ pp. In French and English (1 letter). Photograph: 242 x 191 mm. With an autograph letter signed by Villa-Lobos' wife Arminda Neves d'Almeida. 8vo. 1½ pp.


Correspondence with the American conductor and composer of film music Werner Janssen (1899-1990), largely about Janssen's recordings of Villa-Lobos's compositions Chôros, Bachianas Brasileiras, and the Missa S. Sebastião.

Villa-Lobos first met Janssen in November 1944 in Los Angeles, when he was invited to conduct The Janssen Symphony Orchestra, which was his first tour of the U.S. and an important moment in his budding international career. The earliest letter in the collection, written on the eve of his departure from Los Angeles on 6 December 1944, reflects the importance of this occasion and Villa-Lobos's gratitude towards Janssen: "I want to state, very specially to you, my deepest felt gratitude for everything you have done in [!] behalf of my music and of my coming to your beautiful country. Words, as you know, could not begin to express what really is in my heart towards a man who so conspicuously has tried to befriend my country and its art, particularly when such an effort was proven a hard one. [...] I earnestly hope that we may all be together soon, either in this or in my own country [...]".

The correspondence continues in June 1950, now concerning Janssen's first recordings of Villa-Lobos's works. Apart from minor problems with the physical recordings reaching Villa-Lobos in Rio de Janeiro, possibly due to problems with customs, the business relationship was frictionless. In a letter from 6 June 1950, Villa-Lobos mentions similar problems with Ernest Ansermet's recording of his piano concert and Efrem Kurtz's recording of Uirapuru. Another topic of the correspondence is a potential visit by Janssen to Brazil and the possibility of conducting the Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira, which proves difficult.

On 4 July 1951, Villa-Lobos first mentions the Missa S. Sebastião, explaining the choral arrangement and offers to send Janssen the sheet music, also expressing his interest in having it recorded. This is followed up on 22 August, when he informs Janssen that he sent the scores and reacts to criticism of Janssen's recording of Chôros in the "Saturday Review of Literature", deeming it popular music. He points to "a long study on the Chôros" in Portuguese that he will send to Janssen in order for him to be able to "give some explanations to enlighten people who do not know".

The recordings still have not reached Villa-Lobos in Rio de Janeiro by October 1951, when he announces a visit to the U.S., partly for medical reasons and following an invitation to conduct the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra ahead of a tour of Europe. He inquires with Janssen about the possibility of giving a concert in Los Angeles. By mid-November the recording and printing of the Missa S. Sebastião were completed, and Villa-Lobos had "already signed the contract with Columbia Masterworks", hoping that he might be able to hear it upon his arrival in New York, in December, together with the earlier recordings that never reached him.

On 6 January 1952, Villa-Lobos writes from his hotel in New York to thank Janssen for the recording, calling it "excellent work of execution and recording". Still in New York, on 15 January 1952, Villa-Lobos wrote a short letter authorizing the use of a film recording of him and Janssen, possibly filmed during Villa-Lobos's 1944 stay in Los Angeles, for educational purposes with no commercial interest. Apparently, the material was used for a film entitled "Metronome", as is indicated in a different hand on the letter. The charming final letter in the collection, dated New York, 11 February 1955, was written from another tour of the U.S., following a successful concert at Carnegie Hall, which Janssen had apparently missed.

The beautiful portrait photograph was inscribed to Janssen ("À mon très cher ami Werner Janssen") on 4 December 1958 in New York.

The added letter by Arminda Neves d'Almeida, better known as Mindinha, dates back to a stay in New York in August 1950, when Villa-Lobos received medical treatment there. Mindinha wrote to Janssen just after the operation, informing him of its success and expressing her hope of meeting him before their departure for Brazil.


On printed stationery of the composer (5 letters), the New Weston Hotel in New York (3 letters), and the Brazilian Ministry of Education (2 letters). Fraying and small tears to the edges of four letters. The photograph with some pinch folds.

Art.-Nr.: BN#60812 Schlagwörter: ,