Preludes for Guitar

Appleby Catalogue W number: 

The Guitar Preludes were written in 1940, and dedicated to Mindinha.


6 Preludes:

  1. Lyric melody.  Homage to the Brazilian sertanejo
  2. Capadocia & capoeira melody.  Homage to the carioca hustler
  3. Homage to Bach
  4. Homage to the Brazilian Indian
  5. Homage to social life.  To the young teenagers who frequent Rio's concerts and theatres
  6. [the sixth prelude was lost, creating one of the great gaps in music history]

In a recent YouTube search, I found 286 videos of Villa-Lobos preludes.  [Note: I just did the search again in November 2011, and found 2,370 videos!] Watch this John Williams performance from Japanese television:

See the article "Os Cinco Prelúdios para violão de Heitor Villa-Lobos e a transcrição para piano de José Vieira Brandão: uma análise comparativa" (full text in Portuguese, with an English abstract), for a discussion of the Brandão transcriptions of the preludes for piano.

Meirinhos, Eduardo, "Primary Sources and Editions of Suite Popular Brasileira, Choros No. 1, and Five Preludes, by Heitor Villa-Lobos: A Comparative Survey of Differences," Florida State University, 2003.

Year Composed: 
Guitar Works

Solo guitar


Villa-Lobos, Heitor. 1954. Cinq préludes: pour guitare. Paris: Éditions M. Eschig.


Look inside this title Heitor Villa-Lobos - Collected Works For Solo Guitar     Collected Works For Solo Guitar  By Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959). Guitar solo book for guitar. 95 pages. Published by Durand. (HL.50560932)
Average customer rating

Your price $34.95
Usually ships in 24 hours   
See more info or add to cart

The piano version of the Preludes (arr. by José Vieira Brandao) are available in the compilation Heitor Villa-Lobos en dix-huit morceaux pour piano, from Di-Arezzo.


Julian Bream's disc of the Preludes, Etudes, and Guitar Concerto is at the top of my list:  Guitar Concerto, Etudes, Preludes (Bream).  I heard this music many, many years ago on an RCA LP.

I'm a big fan of Canadian guitarist Norbert Kraft.  You can't go wrong with his Naxos CD of Norbert Kraft: Complete Music for Guitar (Naxos)

And on DVD:

Version for piano:


The premiere performance of the Preludes was by Abel Carlevaro, in Montevideo, Uruguay, on December 11, 1943.

The Preludes are extremely popular among today's guitarists.  The Villa-Lobos Concert database  under-states by far the number of concerts and recitals that include at least one Villa-Lobos Prelude.