Villa-Lobos Etudes for the Guitar: The 1928 Manuscript

Stanley Yates

Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Twelve Etudes for Guitar are probably more studied and more performed than any other twentieth-century set of studies for the instrument. Not only because of their unique and innovative idiomatic conception but also for their modernistic character and exceptional quality, it was this seminal and germinal work that truly brought the guitar into the twentieth century.
The date of composition of the Etudes is generally held to be 1929 (several manuscripts and the Eschig publication of 1957 are marked Paris, 1929). However, a copy of a meticulously-written and substantiallyfingered earlier autograph manuscript entitled “Etudes pour la Guitarre,” inscribed Paris, 1928, may be found at the Museo Villa-Lobos in Rio de Janeiro (ms P.200.1.2A).It is this earlier manuscript, with its wealth of information relating to the performance of the Etudes, that has prompted this article. Although each page of the 1928 manuscript is stamped with an Eschig copyright notice, it is unlikely that this manuscript was used as the basis for publication since several anonymous manuscript copies dated 1929 exist. All appear to be closer to Eschig’s 1957 publication than to the 1928 manuscript; suggesting that they derive from a revised version (or versions) of 1929. None of these manuscripts, however, contain anything close to the amount of fingerings found in the earlier manuscript. In fact, the 1928 manuscript is so meticulous in its notation of fingerings and expression markings that it forms an essential addendum to the published score, and clarifies many notational ambiguities and errors found there…)

“Villa-Lobos’ Etudes for the Guitar: The 1928 Manuscript. 1996.

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