by Stanley Yates
Although we have heard of alternative manuscript sources of Villa-Lobos’ guitar music for some time, it is only recently that the exciting content of several of these manuscripts has become known. The manuscripts of which I speak are a substantially-fingered 1928 autograph copy of the Twelve Etudes, along with several manuscripts relating to the Five Preludes. Copies of all are to be found in the Museo Villa-Lobos in Rio de Janeiro (having apparently been there since December of 1973)
The most intriguing of the manuscripts is the 1928 autograph copy of the Etudes, which adds yet another twist to the sketchy history of this seminal and germinal work for the guitar. Each page bears the publisher’s stamp “reproduit par les soins des Editions Max Eschig,” and is in all respects a finished version. It is meticulously written in the hand of the composer, and contains considerable detail of expression markings and fingerings. This manuscript, however, predates several others and clearly was not the version used by Eschig as the basis for publication-the several manuscripts dated Paris 1929 are much closer in their details to the Eschig publication than is the 1928 manuscript and derive, therefore, from a revised version (or versions) of that year The Eschig edition is copyrighted 1952 (with the exception of Etude 1, which is copyrighted 1953), and Andres Segovia’s preface to that edition is dated January 1953. The first edition did not appear, therefore, until twenty-five years after composition The publication manuscript upon which the edition was based has yet to surface .
Why did Villa-Lobos revise his 1928 manuscript-ostensibly a finished work? And why did virtually none of his fingerings make it into later versions? It is interesting that the 1928 manuscript makes no reference to Andres Segovia who, by 1929 was the acknowledged dedicatee of the Etudes, and who later supplied the preface to the Eschig publication; it is not unlikely that Segovia suggested revisions to Villa-Lobos (…)
Soundboard: Journal of the Guitar Foundation of America (Summer 1997, XXIV, No. 1, pp. 7-20). Also in German as “Die Musik von Heitor Villa-Lobos, Alternative Quellen und Aufführungspraxis.” Gitarre & Laute, Germany (vol. xix, no. 6, 1997, pp. 55-65).
1997 by Stanley Yates