String Quartet No. 11 (Villa-Lobos)

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Heitor Villa-Lobos

String Quartet No. 11 is the one of a series of seventeen works in the medium by the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, and was written in 1947. A performance lasts approximately 27 minutes.


Villa-Lobos composed his Eleventh Quartet in Rio de Janeiro in 1947. It was first performed by the Quarteto Iacovino in Rio de Janeiro in 1953. The score is dedicated to Mindinha (Arminda Neves d'Almeida), the composer's companion for the last 23 years of his life (Villa-Lobos, sua obra 2009, 106).


The quartet consists of the traditional four movements:

  1. Allegro non troppo
  2. Scherzo (Vivace)
  3. Adagio – Andante – Adagio
  4. Poco andantino (quasi allegro)

Although it follows the Tenth Quartet by only a year, the Eleventh represents a distinct stylistic leap over its immediate predecessor (Tarasti 1995, 315). It is decidedly less nationalistic than the earlier quartets, and is seen as the emergence of a more international style characteristic of the composer's later quartets, which finds its fullest expression in the String Quartet No. 17 (Farmer 1973, 41–42).

The first movement is dominated by a variety of triplet rhythms (Farmer 1973, 34–35)


Chronological, by date of recording.

  • Villa-Lobos Concurso Internacional de Quarteto de Cordas, 1966. Quartet No. 11 (Quarteto Mario Andrade), Quartet No. 16 (Quarteto Rio de Janeiro). Recorded live at Sala Cecília Meireles, Rio de Janeiro. LP recording, 1 disc: 12 in., 33⅓ rpm, stereo. Museu Villa-Lobos MEC/DAC/MVL-013. Disco é cultura. Rio de Janeiro: Tapecar Gravações, 1975.
  • Heitor Villa-Lobos: String Quartets Nos. 11, 16 and 17. Danubius Quartet (Judit Tóth and Adél Miklós, violins; Cecilia Bodolai, viola; Ilona Wibli, cello). Recorded at the Hungaroton Studios in Budapest, 15–16 October 1990, 28–30 January, and 11–15 February 1991. CD recording, 1 disc: digital, 12 cm, stereo. Marco Polo 8.223390. A co-production with Records International. Germany: HH International, Ltd., 1992.
  • Heitor Villa-Lobos: Quartetos de cordas 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. Quarteto Amazônia. CD recording, 2 discs: digital, 12 cm, stereo. Barcelona: Discmedi D.L., 2000.
    • Also issued as part of Villa-Lobos: Os 17 quartetos de cordas / The 17 String Quartets. Quarteto Bessler-Reis and Quarteto Amazônia. CD recording, 6 sound discs: digital, 12 cm, stereo. Kuarup Discos KCX-1001 (KCD 045, M-KCD-034, KCD 080/1, KCD-051, KCD 042). Rio de Janeiro: Kuarup Discos, 1996.
  • Villa-Lobos: String Quartets, Volume 6. Quartets Nos. 4, 9, 11. Cuarteto Latinoamericano (Saúl Bitrán, Arón Bitrán, violins; Javier Montiel, viola; Alvaro Bitrán, cello). Recorded at the Sala Blas Galindo of the Centro Nacional de las Artes in Mexico City, 31 July – 3 August 2000. Music of Latin American Masters. CD recording, 1 disc: digital, 12 cm, stereo. Dorian DOR-93229. Troy, NY: Dorian Recordings, 2001.
    • Reissued as part of Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Complete String Quartets. 6 CDs + 1 DVD with a performance of Quartet No. 1 and interview with the Cuarteto Latinoamericano. Dorian Sono Luminus. DSL-90904. Winchester, VA: Sono Luminus, 2009.
    • Also reissued (without the DVD) on Brilliant Classics 6634.


  • Villa-Lobos: A integral dos quartetos de cordas. Quarteto Radamés Gnattali (Carla Rincón, Francisco Roa, violins; Fernando Thebaldi, viola; Hugo Pilger, cello); presented by Turibio Santos. Recorded from June 2010 to September 2011 at the Palácio do Catete, Palácio das Laranjeiras, and the Theatro Municipal, Rio de Janeiro. DVD and Blu-ray (VIBD11111), 3 discs. Rio de Janeiro: Visom Digital, 2012.


  • Farmer, Virginia. 1973. "An Analytical Study of the Seventeen String Quartets of Heitor Villa-Lobos". DMA diss. Urbana: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne.
  • Tarasti, Eero. 1995. Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Life and Works, 1887–1959. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc.
  • Tarasti, Eero. 2009. "Villa-Lobos's String Quartets". In Intimate Voices: The Twentieth-Century String Quartet, vol. 1: Debussy to Villa-Lobos, edited by Evan Jones, 223–55. Eastman Studies in Music 70. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press. ISBN 978-1-58046-322-5; ISBN 978-1-58046-229-7; ISBN 978-1-58046-340-9.
  • Villa-Lobos, sua obra. 2009. Version 1.0. MinC / IBRAM, and the Museu Villa-Lobos. Based on the third edition, 1989.

Further reading[edit]

  • Béhague, Gerard. 1979. Music in Latin America: An Introduction. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
  • Béhague, Gerard. 1994. Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Search for Brazil's Musical Soul. Austin: Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Béhague, Gerard. 2003. Villa-Lobos, Heitor: String Quartets, Cuarteto Latinoamericano. [review] Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana 24, no. 2 (Autumn–Winter): 293–94.
  • Estrella, Arnaldo. 1978. Os quartetos de cordas de Villa-Lobos, second edition. Rio de Janeiro: Museu Villa-Lobos, Ministério da Educação e Cultura.
  • Gilman, Bruce. 1999. "Enigma de vanguardia", translated by Juan Arturo Brennan. Pauta: Cuadernos de teoría y crítica musical 17, no. 69 (January–March): 29–34.
  • Macedo Ribeiro, Roberto. 2000. "A escrita contrapontística nos quartetos de cordas de Heitor Villa-Lobos". In Anais do I Colóquio de Pesquisa de Pós-Graduação, edited by Marisa Rezende and Mário Nogueira, 71–76. Rio de Janeiro: Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) (Escola de Música).
  • Villa-Lobos, sua obra: Programa de Ação Cultural. 1972. Second edition. Rio de Janeiro: MEC, DAC, Museu Villa-Lobos.