on of Noêmia Villa-Lobos, a housewife, and Raul Villa-Lobos, employee of the National Library and amateur musician, Heitor Villa-Lobos was born on March 5, 1887 in the neighborhood of Laranjeiras, Rio de Janeiro.
Besides residing in the city of Rio, Villa-Lobos also lived with his family in cities in the interior of Rio de Janeiro State (Sapucaia) and of Minas Gerais (Cataguazes and Bicas) between the years of 1892 and 1893. During those stays, he became familiar with back-country music and guitar players who make up part of the musical folklore that later would be universalized in his work.
Back in Rio, the Villa-Lobos family turned their house into a meeting place for respectable people of the time. There they would gather every Saturday to play until the wee hours of the morning. This custom, which lasted many years, decisively influenced Villa-Lobos’ musical education, and he began at a very early age. At six, he learned from his father to play clarinet and cello (this on a specially adapted viola). Raul Villa-Lobos subjected him to demanding music perception exercises, including recognition of musical notes and sounds, type, style, character and origin of music.
It was also at this time, thanks to his aunt Fifinha, who introduced him to the Preludes and Fugues of the "Well-Tempered Clavier" that Tuhu (his childhood nickname) became fascinated with the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, the composer who was to be the source of inspiration for the creation of one of his most important cycles, the nine "Bachianas Brasileiras".