String Quartet No. 9 (Villa-Lobos)

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Heitor Villa-Lobos

String Quartet No. 9 is part of a series of seventeen works in the medium by the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, and was written in 1945. A performance lasts approximately 25 minutes.


Villa-Lobos composed his Ninth Quartet in Rio de Janeiro in 1945. It was first performed in London in 1947, but the exact date, place, and performers are not known. The first performance in the composer's native country took place at the Auditório do MEC in Rio de Janeiro on 25 April 1960, as part of the Festival Villa-Lobos. The performers on this occasion were the Quarteto de Cordas da Rádio MEC. 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, 104–105).


The quartet consists of four movements:

  1. Allegro
  2. Andantino vagaroso
  3. Allegro poco moderato (con bravura)
  4. Molto allegro

The first movement is cast in the traditional sonata-allegro form, with a particularly strong influence from Joseph Haydn. This is seen especially in the use of mirroring that recalls the al rovescio counterpoint of the fugue in Haydn's Op. 20, No. 2 (Salles 2013, 686–87). The second theme group contains four subjects, the second of which uses the octatonic scale, suggesting the possible influence of Stravinsky (Salles 2013, 691).

The second movement, on the other hand, shows remarkable similarities to Alban Berg's Lyric Suite and to Béla Bartók's Sixth Quartet (Salles 2013, 692).


Chronological, by date of recording.

  • Heitor Villa-Lobos: String Quartets Nos. 5, 9 and 12. Danubius Quartet (Gyöngyvér Oláh and Adél Miklós, violins; Cecilia Bodolai, viola; Ilona Ribli, cello). Recorded at the Rottenbiller Street Studio in Budapest from 18–23 May 1992. CD recording, 1 disc: digital, 12 cm, stereo. Marco Polo 8.223392. A co-production with Records International. Germany: HH International, Ltd., 1993.
  • 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.
  • Morton, Lawrence. 1959. "Heitor Villa-Lobos: String Quartet, No. 9, 1945. New York: Southern Music Publishing Co., 1957; Heitor Villa-Lobos: Quatorzieme quatuor a cordes. Paris: Max Eschig; U. S. A.: Associated Music Publishers, New York, 1958." Notes 16, no. 2 (March): 313–14.
  • Salles, Paulo de Tarso. 2013. "National Identity, Modernity, and Other Intertextual Relations in the Ninth String Quartet of Villa-Lobos". In Music: Function and Value—Proceedings of the 11th International Congress on Musical Signification: Cracow, 27 September–2 October 2010, vol. 2, edited by Teresa Malecka and Małgorzata Pawłowska, 684–97. Kraków: Akademia Muzyczna w Krakowie. ISBN 978-83-62743-19-3; 978-83-62743-18-6.
  • 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).
  • 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: Programa de Ação Cultural. 1972. Second edition. Rio de Janeiro: MEC, DAC, Museu Villa-Lobos.