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by Heitor Villa-Lobos
Heitor Villa-Lobos (c. 1922).jpg
Heitor Villa-Lobos
EnglishSavage Poem
CatalogueW184, W310
GenreSolo Piano
Composed1921 (1921): Rio de Janeiro
DedicationArthur Rubinstein
Published1928 (1928): Paris
PublisherMax Eschig
Duration20 mins.
ScoringPiano solo (later transcribed for orchestra by the composer)
Date24 October 1927 (1927-10-24):
LocationSalle Gaveau, Paris
PerformersArthur Rubinstein

Rudepoêma (Portuguese: [ˌɦudʒipoˈemɐ], Savage Poem) is a composition by Heitor Villa-Lobos. It was written in Rio de Janeiro from 1921 to 1926 and is the largest and most challenging work Villa-Lobos wrote for the solo piano. It is in one continuous movement and runs about 19–20 minutes. The piece has been described (with license) as "Le Sacre du printemps meets the Brazilian jungle".[1] For the title of this work, as he also did for other compositions, such as Vidapura and Momoprecoce, Villa-Lobos compounded two words together: rude, meaning "rude", "coarse", "uncultured", "discourteous", and poema, "poem".[2] However, the score's dedicatee, Arthur Rubinstein, explained, "The 'Rude' of the title did not have the English meaning. In Brazil it meant 'savage'. When I asked him if he considered me a savage pianist, he said excitedly, 'We are both savage! We don't care much for pedantic detail. I compose and you play, off the heart, making the music live, and this is what I hope I expressed in this work'".[3] Rudepoêma was later orchestrated by the composer, and premiered under his baton in Rio de Janeiro on July 15, 1942.[4]

The piece was intended as a tonal portrait of the Polish-American pianist Arthur Rubinstein, who premiered the work at the Salle Gaveau in Paris on 24 October 1927, on the first of a pair of concerts devoted to Villa-Lobos's compositions.[5] The (Portuguese) dedication of the score to Rubinstein reads, "My true friend, I do not know if I can have fully assimilated your soul with this Rudepoema [not italicised in the source], but I swear with all my heart that I have the impression in my mind of having recorded your temperament and of having mechanically transcribed it on paper, like an intimate Kodak. Therefore, if I have succeeded, you will be the true author of this work".[6][3] It is rhapsodic in style and elastic in its structure. It is filled with varied rhythms and dynamic tempo changes which are meant to portray Rubinstein's brilliant and varied personality.

The two main themes of the work are presented at the outset, the first one in the bass register in the left hand, the second answering it in the right hand. Fragments of both themes are clearly audible throughout the composition, which reaches its climax only five bars from the end, with the right hand raining four fortissimo blows on three low notes, C, B, and A.[7]


  • Rubinstein, Arthur (1980). My Many Years. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 9780394422534.
  • Slonimsky, Nicolas (1945). Music of Latin America. New York City: Thomas Y. Crowell.


  1. ^ Davis, Dan. n.d. "Major Discoveries: Hamelin’s Transcendent Villa-Lobos: As Trés Marias; A Prole do Bebê Suites Nos. 1 & 2; Rudepoêma. Marc-André Hamelin (piano). Hyperion 67176 (CD)". Classics (accessed 5 May 2010).
  2. ^ Slonimsky 1945, p. 49.
  3. ^ a b Rubinstein 1980, p. 252.
  4. ^ Slonimsky 1945, p. 148.
  5. ^ Rubinstein 1980, pp. 479–80.
  6. ^ Villa-Lobos, sua obra. 2009. Version 1.0. MinC / IBRAM, and the Museu Villa-Lobos. p. 145. Based on the third edition, 1989 (accessed 26 My 2018).
  7. ^ Mariz, Vasco. 1963. Heitor Villa-Lobos: Brazilian Composer. Latin American Monographs 24, series edited by A. Curtis Wilgus. Gainesville: University of Florida Press. p. 53.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ewen, David. 1959. Encyclopedia of Concert Music. New York: Hill and Wang.
  • Ferraz, Silvio. 2012. "Estudo da gênese composicional de Rudepoema de H. Villa-Lobos". Anais do II Simpósio Villa-Lobos, Perspectivas Analíticas para a Música de Villa-Lobos, São Paulo, 23 a 25 de novembro de 2012, edited by Paulo de Tarso Salles and Ísis Biazioli de Oliveira, 210–27. São Paulo: Departamento de Música/Escola de Comunicações e Artes/USP. ISBN 9788572050982.
  • Kater, Carlos. 1987. "Villa-Lobos de Rubinstein". Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana 8, no. 2 (Autumn-Winter): 246–53. (in Portuguese)
  • Oliveira, Jamary. 1984. "Black Key versus White Key: A Villa-Lobos Device". Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana 5, no. 1 (Spring-Summer): 33–47.
  • Salles, Paulo de Tarso. 2009. Villa-Lobos: processos composicionais. Campinas, SP: Editora da Unicamp. ISBN 978-85-268-0853-9.
  • Wright, Simon. 1992. Villa-Lobos. Oxford Studies of Composers. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-315476-5 (cloth); ISBN 0-19-315475-7 (pbk).