Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


School of Music

Document Type



The Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) is one of the most prominent names in Twentieth century music. His compositional scope encompasses languages that often combine national elements of Brazilian music with traditions of European music. Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras is one of the most representative works that reflect the dialogue of those distinct worlds. With this series of distinct pieces, Villa-Lobos aimed to achieve musical universality through incorporating elements of Bach’s music with that of his own, which was already permeated by Brazilian popular traditions.

This research focusses on the four movements of the “reduced” version of the Bachianas Brasileiras no.2, of which three are for cello and piano, and one is for solo piano. Along with many other works by Villa-Lobos, this version of Bachianas no.2 merits editing as many performers still play these works using copies of manuscripts that are not so easily available. The editorial work conducted in this paper is a critical approach and includes: historical research where the chronological question of these movements was thoroughly examined; a description of the processes of locating, collecting, inspecting and describing the primary sources (autographs and apographs); and the processes of establishing and presenting the musical text.

This research intends to show that the movements of the Bachianas no.2 for cello and piano and that for solo piano do not fail to fully communicate all the musical ideas explored by Villa-Lobos in the orchestral version. Moreover, the main objective of this paper is to bring out obscure aspects of these “reduced” movements, while facilitating the access to the scores and contributing to their propagation among performer



Committee Chair

Gurt, Michael