Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Fine Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Irina Voro

Second Advisor

Dr. Diana Hallman


This study offers a reconsideration of the music of Villa-Lobos and its relationship to diverse musical expressions and musical syntheses in Brazil. Its primary purpose is to present a line of interpretative thought for Heitor Villa-Lobos’s piano compositions, emphasizing significant elements reflective of the folk and popular culture of Brazil that the composer integrates with stylistic features influenced by European art music traditions. It highlights Villa-Lobos’s adaptation of characteristic Brazilian dances, dance rhythms, melodies, direct quotations, and fragments of folk and popular tunes in Choros no. 5 (Alma Brasileira) and Bachianas Brasileiras no. 4 (Brazilian Bachianas no. 4). In the latter work, this study also considers the composer’s blend of Brazilian-based material with elements inspired by the work of Johann Sebastian Bach. In addition to stylistic analyses, an examination of the composer’s influences, intentions, and methods is fundamental to this study. This exploration offers insights into Villa-Lobos’s piano music and clarifies possible misinterpretations generated by lack of information about the composer’s musical contexts and his desires to represent Brazilian culture in his music. This discussion is intended to provide a basis for performing or interpretive solutions to the musical (including rhythmic and technical) complexities created by the use of folk and popular ideas in this repertoire. Divided into five chapters, this document begins with a brief overview of Villa-Lobos’s life and overall works in the second chapter. The third chapter contains a brief overview of the entire set of Choros with a focused examination of Choros no. 5. The fourth chapter discusses Villa-Lobos’s mixture of neoclassical and Brazilian elements within the set Bachianas Brasileiras, specifically no. 4, for piano. Descriptions and interpretations of the selected works are offered in the third and fourth chapters. The fifth chapter presents the conclusion of this research.