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Rudepoêma (Rude or Savage Poem), is a composition by Heitor Villa-Lobos. It was written 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" (Davis n.d .). For the title of this work, as he also did for other compositions, such as Vidapura and Momoprecoce, Villa-Lobos telescoped two words together: rude, meaning "rude", "coarse", "uncultured", "discourteous", and poema, "poem" (Slonimsky 1945, 49). Rudepoêma was later orchestrated by the composer, and premiered under his baton in Rio de Janeiro on July 15, 1942 (Slonimsky 1945, 148).

The piece was intended as a tonal portrait of the Polish-American pianist Arthur Rubinstein. 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 (Mariz 1963, 53).


Further reading[edit]

  • Ewen, David. 1959. Encyclopedia of Concert Music. New York: Hill and Wang.
  • Kater, Carlos. 1987. "Villa-Lobos de Rubinstein". Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana 8, no. 2 (Autumn-Winter): 246–53. (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.