Symphony No. 4 (Villa-Lobos)

Symphony No. 4, "A Vitória" (Victory) is a composition by the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, written in 1919. A recording conducted by the composer lasts just over thirty minutes.

Symphony No. 4
A Vitória
by Heitor Villa-Lobos
Heitor Vila-Lobos (c. 1922).jpg
Heitor Villa-Lobos
EnglishVictory (subtitle)
Composed1919 (1919):
Published1978 (1978):
PublisherRicordi (Brazil), Belwin Mills
Recorded10 June 1955 (1955-06-10) – 13 June 1956 (1956-06-13): Paris, Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française, conducted by Villa-Lobos
ScoringOrchestra and brass band
DateSeptember 1920 (1920-09):
LocationTheatro Municipal (Rio de Janeiro)
ConductorHeitor Villa-Lobos
PerformersOrquestra Sinfônica do Theatro Municipal


Villa-Lobos composed his Fourth Symphony in Rio de Janeiro in 1919, beginning in October, as the second in a trilogy of programmatic symphonies based on arguments by Luís Gastão d'Escragnolle Dória [pt]. This symphony is subtitled A Vitória (Victory), while its predecessor and successor are subtitled A Guerra (War) and A Paix (Peace), respectively. It is also the fourth in a cycle of five symphonies in the style of Vincent d'Indy. It was first performed at the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, together with the Third Symphony, in September 1920 by the Orchestra do Theatro Municipal conducted by the composer (Villa-Lobos, sua obra 2009, 43–44). From 10 to 13 June 1955 Villa-Lobos made a recording of this symphony at the Salle de la Mutualité in Paris with the Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française.


The symphony is scored for a large orchestra and brass band. The orchestra consists of: 2 piccolos, 3 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, tuba, timpani, cymbals, bass drum, drum, side drum, tam-tam, bells, sistrum, small frame drum, chocalho, sleigh bells, triangle, xylophone, celesta, 2 harps, piano, and strings. The wind band consists of: E clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, euphonium, cornets, bugles, horn, 1 or more saxhorns, bass trombone, contrabass trombone in E, contrabass trombone in B, bass drum. There is also a concertino ensemble made up of E clarinet, soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones, euphonium, small frame drum, triangle, cymbals, and bass drum.


The work is in four movements:

  1. Allegro impectuoso [sic]
  2. Andantino
  3. Andante
  4. Lento – Allegro

The Fourth Symphony employs the principle of cyclic form. The main theme of the first movement recurs in all of the following movements, with the aim of providing unity to the whole work (Enyart 1984, 147–49). Moreover, themes from Villa-Lobos's Third Symphony are also quoted here, which has sometimes incorrectly been assumed to imply that these two symphonies were originally a single work (Peppercorn 1991, 86–87).


  • Béhague, Gerard. 1994. Villa-Lobos: The Search for Brazil's Musical Soul. Austin: Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Austin, 1994. ISBN 0-292-70823-8.
  • Enyart, John William. 1984. "The Symphonies of Heitor Villa-Lobos". PhD diss. Cincinnati: University of Cincinnati.
  • Peppercorn, Lisa M. 1991. Villa-Lobos: The Music: An Analysis of His Style, translated by Stefan de Haan. London: Kahn & Averill; White Plains, NY: Pro/Am Music Resources Inc. ISBN 1-871082-15-3 (Kahn & Averill); ISBN 0-912483-36-9.
  • Salles, Paulo de Tarso. 2009. Villa-Lobos: processos composicionais. Campinas, SP: Editora da Unicamp. ISBN 978-85-268-0853-9.
  • Villa-Lobos, sua obra. 2009. Version 1.0. MinC / IBRAM, and the Museu Villa-Lobos. Based on the third edition, 1989.