University of São Paulo: One hundred years later, the sounds of the Modern Art Week are on the air

Presenting a hitherto unpublished landscape of the 1922 Modern Art Week was the proposal that professor Flávia Camargo Toni, from the Institute of Brazilian Studies (IEB) at USP, in partnership with journalist and musicologist Camila Fresca and the specialist in public policies at Claudia Toni, offered to Sesc (Social Service of Commerce). The colors and aesthetic emotion of Anita Malfatti, Tarsila do Amaral, Di Cavalcanti and other masters now flow with the sounds that enchanted their art a hundred years ago. The Every Week project: Music & Literature at the Modern Art Weekpresents the entirety of this soundscape on four CDs, produced by Sesc, which are available free of charge and online. It also has a booklet with excerpts from lectures and poems read during the Week of 22, some of them little known. All material can be accessed at this link .

To mark the release of the CDs, on the 9th and 16th of February, at 8 pm, at Sesc Vila Mariana, in São Paulo, the public will be able to enjoy concerts that bring back less performed chamber works by Villa-Lobos, poems and excerpts conferences that moved the great hall of the Municipal Theater of São Paulo a century ago.

Every Week: Music & Literature at the Modern Art Week was conceived by Flávia Toni, Camila Fresca, PhD from the School of Communications and Arts (ECA) at USP, and Claudia Toni. The musical direction is by Claudio Cruz, violinist and conductor of the São Paulo State Youth Symphony Orchestra.


Flávia Toni, professor at the Institute of Brazilian Studies (IEB) at USP – Photo: Heloísa Bortz
“This project was born from the perception that we still did not have the means to gather the sound recordings, the recordings of all the music by Villa-Lobos performed during the Semana de 22”, says Flávia Toni, who has dedicated herself to researching the work for 40 years. musical by Mario de Andrade. “For a good critical assessment of the ‘sounds’ heard on the stage of the Municipal Theater – lectures, poetry and music -, a studio recording would be necessary, but, in parallel, it was important to deepen a study focused on the specific repertoires of 1922.”

With the participation of Cláudia and Camila, the project gained strength. “We managed to locate the scores, contact the musicians. We did a survey of the bibliographic source, the location of the heirs, because of the licensing of the contents, in short, everything was understood as a task to be shared, but respecting the specificities of the fields of knowledge”, highlights the teacher.

With the project base ready, the researchers consulted Sesc. “We wanted to know the possibilities of making the recording of the four CDs and the booklet feasible, and Wagner Palazzi, then coordinator of the Sesc label, was immediately enthusiastic”, recalls Flávia Toni. “He welcomed and shared with us the joy of providing free access to the four CDs and the bilingual booklet through the Sesc platform, as well as understanding that it is opportune to make this material available in physical format, which is what we are calling Box Week of 22 .”

“This project puts into operation and circulation a new ‘sounding board’ of ideas, experiments and inventions brought together and disseminated by the Modern Art Week.”


A promoter of cultural projects, Danilo Santos de Miranda, regional director of Sesc São Paulo, follows Box Semana de 22 with pride. “This project puts into operation and circulation a new ‘sounding board’ of ideas, experiments and inventions brought together and disseminated by the Modern Art Week. More than that, it condenses in the media that integrate the present project the spirit of novelty and transformation of the Brazilian modernists of the first wave, at least of the southeastern ones, in their verbal, sound and musical expressions, audible after a century.”

Villa-Lobos’ works performed at the Modern Art Week are gathered on four CDs. They are surprising for their original perfection in the current interpretation of the musicians. “These are chamber pieces for different formations: solo piano, singing and piano, violin and piano, cello and piano, piano trio and string quartet. There are also two different formations: a quartet with flute, alto sax, harp and celesta and an octet with three violins, cello, double bass, flute, clarino and piano. Of the other authors, there are only pieces for solo piano”, says Camila Fresca, a journalist specializing in classical music.

Research on the sound events of the 22nd Week brings new references to researchers. “To locate in the history of Brazilian culture that Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, Anita Malfatti, Oswald de Andrade, Graça Aranha, Mário de Andrade, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Paulo Prado and Menotti del Picchia participated in the ‘three art parties’ of 1922, such as the designated the author of Pauliceia Desvairada , is now commonplace for those who revisit the main lines of Modernism. But bringing together the studies developed over a hundred years for a critical assessment or for didactic purposes is still not easy”, says Claudia Toni, referring to the research work that privileged the sequence of sound events that took place on the 13th, 15th and 17th. February 1922, in the large room of the Municipal Theater of São Paulo.

“For a good critical assessment of the ‘sounds’ heard on the stage of the Municipal Theater – lectures, poetry and music -, a studio recording would be necessary, but, in parallel, it was important to deepen a study focused on the specific repertoires of 1922.”


Cláudia Toni, specialist in public policies in the area of ​​culture – Photo: Heloísa Bortz
Flávia Toni is satisfied with the results of the research gathered in the elaboration of the CDs, the booklet and the live concerts. “I think we now have a closer portrait of the ensemble and that expression, ‘Soundscape of the Week of 22′, is very happy.” And she highlights: “The Institute of Brazilian Studies has the most complete collection on Modernism in Brazil. There are the library, the personal archive and the collection of visual arts that belonged to Mário de Andrade, which form the basis of my studies over 40 years. Camila Fresca, who is preparing a biography on Villa-Lobos, had access to documents and books from the IEB. The library and the archive helped a lot. In the collection of the IEB were located the stickers of some paintings by Anita Malfatti that illustrate the booklet. As for Villa-Lobos’ scores,

Aesthetic emotion in modern art
The set of four CDs is a surprise. The first one opens with the text A Esthetic Emotion in Modern Art , by Graça Aranha, voiced by actor Antonio Salvador. The writer from Maranhão observes: “No prejudice is more disturbing to the conception of art than that of Beauty. Those who imagine the beautiful abstract are suggested by conventions that forge entities and aesthetic concepts about which there can be no exact and definitive notion. Each one who asks himself and answers: what is beauty? Where does the infallible criterion of the beautiful lie? Art is independent of this prejudice. It is another wonder that is not beauty.”

Then, between the sonatas of Heitor Villa–Lobos, the listener reflects, with such well-executed sounds, on the ideas of the modernists. There are readings of poems by Guilherme de Almeida ( As Galeras ), Luís Aranha ( Drogaria de Éter e de Sombra ) and Mário de Andrade (Domingo) , among others, by names such as Homero Velho, Lígia Ferreira and Mônica Salmaso. Actor Antonio Salvador also reads an excerpt from the novel Os Condenados , by Oswald de Andrade, on disc 3, and, on disc 4, we hear an excerpt from the conference entitled Arte Moderna, by Menotti del Picchia.

Professor Flávia Toni guides those interested in enjoying the sound project calmly. He suggests: “If we combine the music with the lectures and the poems, we realize that this audition needs to be done gradually”.

Comments are closed.