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Behind the Masks of ModernismGlobal and Transnational Perspectives$
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Andrew Reynolds and Bonnie Roos

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813061641

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813061641.001.0001

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A Pedagogy for Modernity

A Pedagogy for Modernity

Brazilian Modernism and Heitor Villa-Lobos Revisited

(p.55) 2 A Pedagogy for Modernity
Behind the Masks of Modernism

Sandro R. Barros

University Press of Florida

This chapter demonstrates the dynamic cultural and racial mixing of post-independence Brazil. This offers a stunning backdrop for inquiry into modernism’s occasional collusion with oppressive governments. Barros associates acclaimed composer Heitor Villa-Lobos with wearing many masks and personas to promote Brazil’s modernist movement. Barros explains that Villa-Lobos defended and modified European musical traditions for Brazilian audiences through the metaphor of anthropophagy, while cultivating an exaggerated claim to “primitive” musical inspiration—a suspect musical engagement with African and Amerindian encounters—when speaking to European audiences. Most provocatively, perhaps, Barros argues that through these personas, Villa-Lobos was part of a larger, state-promoted modernist program to condition his audience to modernist music—an effort that disguised an almost dictatorial agenda that promoted what Villa-Lobos viewed as modernist aesthetic techniques while it actually eliminated diversity, in the name of sound pedagogy.

Keywords:   Heitor Villa-Lobos, Brazil, Music, Nationalism, Anthropophagy, Brazilian Modernism

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