Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Poundie Burstein

Subject Categories



Brazil; Carnaval; Carnival; Momoprecoce; Piano; Villa-Lobos


Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959), one the most important figures in Brazilian music, played a crucial role in establishing nationalism in Brazil through musical explorations of the unique character of Brazilian culture. This culture, a cacophonous mix of European lineage and African and indigenous influences, is exemplified in the country's most popular and authentic celebration: the carnival. This dissertation explores Villa-Lobos's musical portrait of the carnival through analysis of Carnaval das Crianças for piano, and that work's reconfiguration as the piano fantasy Momoprecoce, focusing on a comparison of the two works to illuminate how Villa-Lobos kept the core of the original piece while metamorphosing its artistic intent and purpose.

This document begins with a discussion of the tradition of reworking compositions for new purposes; followed by a biographical sketch of Villa-Lobos tracing his compositional language and the features that most impacted his works written before 1930s. The next section reviews the history of carnival in Brazil and the music traditionally performed for it, clarifying the connection between the music played during carnival in Rio and Villa-Lobos's depiction of the Brazilian celebration. This background prepares the analysis of Carnaval das Crianças, exploring form, harmonic and rhythmic language, melodic structure and thematic development, texture and idiomatic elements. Subsequently, a comparative study between Carnaval das Crianças and Momoprecoce clarifies the symbiosis between the two works by detailing how Villa-Lobos amalgamated the musical ideas of Carnaval das Crianças into Momoprecoce.

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