New York Skyline

Appleby Catalogue W number: 
W407, W408

New York Skyline exists in two versions: the original for piano (W407), and a version for orchestra (W408).

Fred Flaxman included New York Skyline in his Compact Discoveries radio program #83, "New York, New York":

All of the works we have heard so far in this hour devoted to music inspired by the City of New York, all of this music, without exception, was written by American composers. But we are going to conclude with a piece called New York Skyline that was written by a Brazilian composer: Heitor Villa-Lobos.

Villa-Lobos composed this piano piece by superimposing the New York skyline on a piece of graph paper. Even with the pitches following the heights of the buildings and the spaces determining the duration of the notes, the composer was able to compose this work in the form of a Brazilian serenade. So, although this piece, like the others in this hour, was inspired by New York City, it doesn't have an American sound. You are not likely to confuse this with the works of George Gershwin, Vernon Duke, John Kander, Richard Rodgers, or John Philip Sousa, all of which were presented earlier.

Considering how it was put together, I think this piece sounds much better than I would have predicted. The pianist is Beatriz Roman.

MUSIC: Villa-Lobos: New York Skyline performed by Beatriz Roman [Newport Classic NPD 85518, track 7] [3:08]

You can listen to Compact Discoveries online, by the way.

Here's a picture of Villa's Skyline, from the article 'Villa-Lobos e a "Melodia das montanhas": Contribuição à revisão crítica da pedagogia musical brasileira', Carlos Kater, Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Spring - Summer, 1984), pp. 102-105

New York Sky Line Melody

Year Composed: 
Orchestral Works
Piano Works


Orchestrated by Villa-Lobos: 2fl, ob, c ing, cl(Bb), sax alto, fg, 3cor, trp(C), trb, tímp, tam-tam, wood block, coco, pratos, triângulo, xil, vibe, cel, 2hp e cordas


Villa-Lobos, Heitor. 1957. New York sky line: pour piano solo. Paris: Editions Max Eschig.

The piano version is available in the Durand compilation Heitor Villa-Lobos Chefs d'Oeuvres.