- January: Villa-Lobos is a member of the Jury of the Pablo Casals International Competition in Mexico City.
- Villa-Lobos dies in Rio de Janeiro on November 17, at his home at Rua Araújo Porto Alegre 56, apartment 54.
"Died. Heitor Villa-Lobos, 72, self-taught, prolific Brazilian composer who combined the counterpoint of Bach with the vigorous rhythms of native Brazilian music in more than 2,000 works (Bachianas Brasileiras, Seréstas), gloried in the fact that he constantly shifted his style, followed no one line of development or school, founded the Brazilian National Academy of Music, directed massive choruses drawn from all levels of the population; in Rio de Janeiro. In a life of strenuous activity, Villa-Lobos lived up to his own code: "Life is a gamble, and I'm for gambling." He voyaged for nine years in the Amazon jungle to track down hidden native music. " - Time's obituary, Nov. 30, 1959.
- On November 18 the body of the composer was laid out on a fire department truck in the middle of the square in front of the Theatro Municipal in Rio. A choir on the steps of the theatre sang Villa's Missa Sao Sebastiao. You can see this scene in a picture from the day, here, at the Banco de Imagens of the website of O Globo. Or at any rate, I believe that's the scene from Nov. 18 (the caption says Nov. 12, when Villa was still alive).
- The burial took place at Sao Joao Batista cemetery, with Brazil's President Juscelino Kubitschek attending, and with a children's choir singing Villa's Silence. See the story in the New York Times, Nov. 19, 1959, p. 39.
- "He was pure frenzy organizing itself into rhythm, becoming melody and creating the most generous, the most intense and purifying communion ever imaginable." - Carlos Drummond de Andrade, following Villa's death
- On November 27, pianist Artur Rubinstein played three Villa-Lobos pieces as a tribute to his late friend, at a Carnegie Hall recital (as reported in Howard Taubman's NY Times review the following day).
- the Second Vatican Council convenes in Rome.
- the Dalai Lama flees Tibet.
- Birth of Renee Fleming, Hugh Laurie
- Death of Billie Holliday, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charlie Parker (the cricketer - Bird died in 1955), Ernest Bloch, Bohuslav Martinu, Preston Sturges, plus Richie Valens/Buddy Holly/The Big Bopper
back to 1958 - Timeline Index