Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 9 (Version for Choir): Valentina Peleggi and the São Paulo Symphony Choir

In a 1945 letter to the Bach Society of São Paulo, composer Heitor Villa-Lobos wrote,

The music of Bach is without question the most sacred gift to the world of art…Since Bach expressed his thoughts of God and the universe through his musical creations originating from his own country, he gave the most spiritual expression of human solidarity, we should also understand, love and cultivate the music that is born and lives, directly or indirectly, from our own land, and make it also universal with faith and good conscience.

Villa-Lobos paid homage to J.S. Bach with the nine Bachianas Brasileiras (“Bach-inspired Brazilian pieces”), composed between 1930 and 1945. Here, Baroque formal and contrapuntal procedures meet the spirited improvisatory sounds of Brazilian folk music. Villa-Lobos imagined the kind of music Bach might have written had he been born in 20th century Brazil.

Bachianas Brasileiras No. 9, the final work in the set, was originally conceived for chorus, and later arranged for string orchestra. It begins with a haunting, meditative Prelude which opens the door to a joyfully rhythmic Fugue set in 11/8 time. Following the example of Bach, a fragment of the Prelude emerges in the Fugue’s vibrant counterpoint (4:03).

An exhilarating performance of Bachianas Brasileiras No. 9 closes Heitor Villa-Lobos Choral Transcriptions, a 2021 album featuring the São Paulo Symphony Choir, conducted by Valentina Peleggi. The album includes miraculous a cappella transcriptions of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, in addition to other piano works by Mendelssohn, Schumann, Schubert, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Massenet, and Beethoven. According to the liner notes, the little-known transcriptions “were intended for a teachers’ chorus and for use in schools, and through astonishing alchemy they achieve a true ‘orchestration’ of largely piano originals.”

I am especially thrilled to share this recording because of my personal association with Valentina Peleggi, who began her dynamic tenure as Music Director of the Richmond Symphony during the 2020/21 season. Her recent guest conducting debuts include engagements with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony, the BBC Scottish Symphony, and Seattle Opera. Founded in 1994, the São Paulo Symphony Choir places an emphasis on 20th and 21st century music, and the works of Brazilian composers.


  • Bachianas Brasileiras No. 9, W449, Valentina Peleggi, São Paulo Symphony Choir

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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