Defining a Nation


For many classical enthusiasts Brazilian music can be summed up in the folk-inspired compositions of Villa-Lobos. Naxos’s multivolume series The Music of Brazil is set to broaden awareness, beginning with several 19th- and 20th-century composers whose string and orchestral works at once mirrored and defied their country’s colonial history, writes ...

Brazil is an old country, with a history as changeable as its climate, as rich as its gold mines and as variegated as its plant life. In some respects, Italy and Germany, for example, are much younger, having arrived at their present unified identity less than a century and a half ago. But in the matter of music as a naturally social action as opposed to music as an actively cultivated pursuit, European nations lay claim to a much longer lineage.

So much of what ‘we’ – with English-speaking, European and North American mindsets – regard as Brazilian music is comparatively recent in origin, and our understanding of it commensurately shallow. For string players, pernambuco is a wood, and a useful one, but for Brazilians the name covers an entire region of their country, nine million strong – and thousands of miles east of the Amazon, where the world’s horrified gaze is presently directed.

Subscribe now to keep reading …

This article is available exclusively to subscribers – subscribe now

Already subscribed? Please sign in

Strad subscription

We’re delighted that you are enjoying our website. To access this content you need to be a subscriber.

As a subscriber you’ll receive:

  • Monthly issues* packed with news, interviews and features
  • Special supplements including Accessories, Degrees, Cremona and String Courses
  • A monthly digital edition and an archive of online issues going back to January 2010
  • Full access to all premium online content on
  • Two posters a year and the annual Strad Directory*

*To receive the posters, the Strad Directory and issues and supplements in print, you will need to take out a print + online package

 If you are not ready to subscribe, register now to enjoy a selection of free content (excludes premium subscriber-only articles)