Aria from "Bachianas Brasilieras No 5"

From Wind Repertory Project
Heitor Villa-Lobos

Heitor Villa-Lobos (trans. Herbert)

General Info

Year: 1938 / 1945 / 1969
Duration: c. 5:30
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Associated Music Pub
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $65.00   |   Score Only (print) - $7.50

For further availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


Full Score
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
Cornets/Trumpet I-II-III-IV
E-flat Horn or Alto I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II
String Bass


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Aria Heitor Villa-Lobos absorbed the idioms of the everyday popular music around him in Brazil as an active participant; for a time he even earned his living by playing cello as a café musician. In 1905 -- a few years before Bartók began his famous ethnomusicological field research -- Villa-Lobos began collecting examples of folk music in the northeastern states of Brazil. The quest to develop musical compositions using indigenous Brazilian elements fueled Villa-Lobos across his astonishingly prolific career, making him into his country's leading composer in the past century. Although his reputation suffered among his colleagues on account of his connections to the authoritarian regime of the dictator Getúlio Vargas, by the 1940s—when he completed the fifth in his series of Bachianas Brasileiras— Villa-Lobos was riding a wave of international recognition.

Villa-Lobos also had fascinating connections to the European tradition as both exporter of Brazilian idioms and as an importer of such masters as J.S. Bach. The Bachianas Brasileiras epitomize the composer's preoccupation with his Baroque predecessor and composes a widely spanning series of nine suites that he wrote between 1930 and his time in New York in 1945. Each allude to the terminology of Bach's Baroque instrumental suites in the composite titles he gives most of the movements.

The first movement evokes the world of Bach (Prelúdio, Aria, Fuga, and the like), while the second suggests a Brazilian context (as in Embolada, Modinha, Ponteio, etc.). In their musical content—as well as form—the Bachianas Brasileiras represent an idiosyncratic meeting ground of Baroque techniques and ideas with the folk and popular musical sources and even folklore from Brazil that were mother's milk for Villa-Lobos.

Some of the Bachianas are for chamber forces, while others require a large orchestra. Number 5—the best known of the series—calls for eight cellos and soprano, the voice both for traditional singing of words and for wordless vocalise. Its two movements were composed, respectively, in 1938 and 1945. The first, Aria (Cantilena), evokes the exquisite, long-spun melody of a Bach slow movement as it weaves the soprano's intonation in and against the ensemble of cellos. Its central section embeds folksong sensibility into the movement and sets a poem by the Brazilian writer Ruth Valadares Corrêa. The poem is an ode to the moon's gentle rise against "the drowsy, beautiful firmament."

- Program Note from State University of New York, Fredonia, Wind Ensemble concert program, 16 November 2016


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State Ratings

  • Virginia: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Villa-Lobos, H.; Herbert, W. (1969). Aria (Cantilena) : from Bachianas Brasileiras, no. 5 [score]. Associated Music Publishers: New York.