6 – Mário de Andrade & Villa-Lobos

Escrito em 30/08/2022
Felipe Macchiaverni

Mário de Andrade (1893-1945) and Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) were two artists who actively participated in the Modern Art Week and became references of Brazilian culture in the following decades. Born in São Paulo, Mário headed the city's Department of Culture, having collaborated in the design of the Pacaembu sports complex in the 1930s. He moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1938, and lived for 4 years in the federal capital, where he collaborated in the creation of cultural policies for the Getúlio Vargas government. In 1939, he went to watch a match of the Brazilian National Team for the Copa Roca, in the portentous stadium São Januário. The writer considered the experience of the match to be “fabulous”, from the movement of people on the buses towards the stadium packed with fans, to the involving dynamics of the dispute between the teams. The match evokes in Mário images of ancient Greece and evokes plastic metaphors of a “myrific ballet” of players, who in his view look like “hummingbirds” chasing after the ball.

Villa-Lobos' relationship with football also includes the Vasco da Gama stadium, which in the 1930s was the largest in Brazil. More directly committed to the Estado Novo regime, he turned the field and the stands into a majestic amphitheater for musical rehearsals, with the promotion of orpheonic singing choirs bringing together children and young people of school age. If sports brought the pedagogical potential of Physical Education, the maestro's music used the architectural vastness of the stadiums to orchestrate thousands of students. Under the regency of Villa-Lobos, these young people sang in unison, as football fans would do in their own way, years later.

If the modernists in the 1930s were concerned with the construction of national identity and the establishment of a more direct link with the sources of popular culture, they thus found, in an unsuspected way, in football stadiums a propitious terrain to observe it, experience it and develop it.


View of the Pacaembu sports complex, in its original project, with the acoustic shell that was around the playing field. The coexistence of football and other athletic-sports modalities with the space for music brings in its conception the participation of Mário de Andrade, who, in the late 1930s, headed the Department of Culture of the City of São Paulo. Photograph: Football Museum Collection I José Malheiro Collection | Reserved Rights.


Visit of the federal intervener Adhemar de Barros to the Pacaembu Stadium. Photograph: Acervo Iconographia/Cia da Memória | Reserved Rights.


Getúlio Vargas visits São Januário for the September 7, 1939 celebrations. Photograph: Unknown Author | Centro de Memória do C. R. Vasco da Gama.


Program of Hora da Independência concert, held at Clube de Regatas do Vasco da Gama Stadium on September 7, 1943. Source: NETVASCO | Reserved Rights.


Villa-Lobos conducting. Photo with dedication to Franklin de Mattos, dated 1942: "To old friend Franklin de Mattos, memory of Villa-Lobos, Rio, 27.6.42". Source: Gazeta do Povo | Direitos Reservados.


Mário de Andrade, piano teacher at the Dramatic and Musical Conservatory of São Paulo, architect of the modernist movement in Brazil. Photograph: Unknown Author | IEB-USP.


The composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, who participated in the Modern Art Week of 1922, coordinated the Canto Orfeônico held at São Januário Stadium, in Rio de Janeiro, where thousands of children and young people gathered for a collective musical education project, under his regency. Photos: Unknown Authors | Centro de Memória do C. R. Vasco da Gama.


View of the field and the stands of the São Januário stadium, where the orpheonic singing performances were performed conducted by maestro Villa-Lobos. Photograph: Unknown Author | Arquivo Nacional.


Photo of the choir of female voices in the stands of São Januário, with the young students who participated in orpheonic singing, in the early 1940s. Photograph: Unknown Author | Centro de Memória do C. R. Vasco da Gama.



Video Brasil 3 x 2 Argentina, Copa Roca (1939), at São Januário Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, showing some shots from the match. Duration: 7min16

Video: Cinemateca Brasileira



In January 1939, the Brazilian team played a series of matches against Argentina, valid for the Copa Roca, a competition that put the two South American teams face to face. A resident of Rio de Janeiro at the time, the writer Mário de Andrade went to the São Januário stadium to watch the match. Impressed with the game and the fans thronged to see the plays of Leônidas da Silva and other stars, he recorded his impressions in newspaper chronicles and in a book. Cinematic records of the matches have survived time. Video: Acervo Cinemateca Brasileira.