lready well-known in Brazilian music circles, Villa-Lobos was encouraged to go to Europe by friends who presented a bill before the City Council to finance his travels to Paris. Although the measure drew some protest, the proposal was approved, and Villa-Lobos left in 1923 on what would be his first trip to the Old Continent. When he arrived, Debussy - on of his great inspirations - was no longer in the vanguard, and artists and intellectuals in the French capital turned their sights and ears to Russian composers like Igor Stravinksy, who wrote original, modern and characteristically national music.
Unknown, Villa-Lobos had his entrée into the Parisian artistic environment through Tarsila do Amaral and other Brazilian painters; Arthur Rubinstein - who had already met him in Brazil - and soprano Vera Janacopulos, publicized his work at recitals in several countries.
As a result of a drastic cut in the budget he originally sought, and in spite of the financial support of a group of friends and patrons, Villa-Lobos was forced to return to Rio de Janeiro in 1924. Upon his return, he was thus saluted by the poet Manuel Bandeira:
"Villa-Lobos has just returned from Paris. You expect whoever has just returned from Paris to be full of Paris. However, Villa-Lobos has come back full of Villa-Lobos. Nevertheless, one thing seriously shook him: Stravinsky’s "Rite of Spring". It was, he confessed to me, the greatest musical emotion of his life..."
In 1927, the composer returned to Paris for a three-year stay, this time accompanied by Lucília Villa-Lobos, to organize concerts and publish several works with Max-Eschig Publishers, to whom he had been presented on his first trip to Paris. He made many friends, and many renowned artists such as Magda Tagliaferro, Leopold Stokowski, Maurice Raskin, Edgar Varèse, Florent Schmitt and Arthur Honneger would frequent his house and participate in the Sunday feijoadas (a typical Brazilian dish of black beans and dried and smoked meats).
During this second stay in the French capital, he gained international prestige, performing his compositions at recitals and conducting orchestras in the principal European capitals, always making an impact on audiences and the critics while at the same time provoking controversy because of his musical daring.
In the second half of 1930, Villa-Lobos was invited to do a concert in São Paulo. Little did he imagine that this brief visit to Brazil would ring in a new chapter in his life.