12 Etudes for the guitar of Heitor Villa Lobos transcribed for the piano by Julija Bal  (Julija Bal - piano) 

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Publishing of this CD was provided by Brazilian Embassy in Belgrade


Guitarists Association of Vojvodina 



         On behalf of Museu Villa-Lobos I am pleased to congratulate Ms Julija Bal for her piano transcriptions of the 12 Guitar Studies composed by Heitor Villa-Lobos. This is a significant initiative which forwards one of the main purposes of our institution in promoting and bringing to attention the work of one of the most celebrated composers of the twentieth century.

Wagner Tiso

Director of Museu Villa-Lobos

Rio de Janeiro 


    The Brazilian Embassy in Belgrade is pleased to take part in this remarkable project, which honours a great icon of Brazilian culture, regarded as one of the foremost Latin American composers of the 20th century, and was supported by the Cultural Department of our Ministry of External Relations. 

    Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) was not only a visionary composer, conductor and music professor, but also a brilliant advocate of Brazilian music throughout the globe, hence the longevity of his legacy.  His most significant works include orchestral, vocal, chamber and instrumental pieces that harmonize Western classical with Brazilian folk music; he played both the piano and the guitar, besides his favourite cello.

    The Brazilian musician was fully aware of the revolutionary part he played amongst classical composers. When touring in Paris, where he stayed for around four years throughout the 1920s, having met such figures as Pablo Picasso, Leopold Stokowski, Aaron Copland and Edgard Varèse, he once stated: "I have not come to learn. I have come to show what I have made up to now." He knew he had reformulated the concept of musical nationalism and become one of its great exponents. 

    Villa-Lobos was friends or worked with a profusion of artists from heterogeneous backgrounds: the Brazilian pianist and composer Ernesto Nazareth; the conductor of “The American Young Orchestra”, Leopold Stokowski; the pianist Arthur Rubinstein; samba musicians such as Pixinguinha, Cartola, Anacleto de Medeiros and so on. The “Villa-Lobos Orchestra” was created in 1933. He also conducted the Orchestras of Boston and New York. In 1945, he founded the Brazilian Music Academy. He was also the leader of the development of choral music in Brazilian public schools in the 1930’s and 40’s.

    Bearing in mind the relevance of Villa-Lobos’ accomplishments, I congratulate the immensely gifted Julija Bal on her initiative of adapting for the piano his Twelve Studies for Guitar, of 1929. Julija’s  talent has been justly acknowledged by awards she earned for these wonderful transcriptions, among them Top Winner of the international competition IBLA Grand Prize 2008 (3-13 July 2008, Italy); an invitation to perform at the New York Carnegie Hall and in the Winners Concert Tour; and the Villa-Lobos Award for her transcriptions. The listener to this recording will enjoy Julija’s superb performance, is a welcome tribute to the unique musical creativity of Villa-Lobos – a perfect match which symbolizes the excellent relations between Serbia and Brazil.

I am very happy to have the opportunity to promote Julija’s work and I wish Julija Bal she goes on consolidating a very successful career. I also and hope the listener of her work will enjoy very pleasant moments with her performance of some of Villa-Lobos inspired masterpieces. 

Alexandre Addor

Ambassador of Brazil




It is my great pleasure to compliment the publishing of the edition of 12 Etudes for the guitar of Heitor Villa Lobos transcribed for the piano by Julia Bal. Musical material that is before us is very interesting and valuable for many reasons. 

Exceptional creative form of the pianist Julia Bal, her extraordinary talent, great love and joy expressed through music, enabled her to expand her piano repertoire through this text of music. 

At first sight, it might seem unusual that a pianist is addressing music for the guitar of a great Brazilian composer. However, it is soon very clear that Julia Bal has a remarkable ability and talent to bring this music to every pianist and make it transcend. 

Characteristical and sound variety of etudes of Heitor Villa Lobos, which is seen in expressivity of direct contact of the performer with the wire, Julia Bal managed to convey and evoke regardless of the mechanism of the piano, emphasizing the advantages of the instrument. It does not violate the basic idea of folk melody; however, it compliments the well-chosen rhythms, dynamic shadings and virtuosity.

If we look back in history, we can see that the pianists of the XX century were expected to overcome the frameworks of literature for the piano and to demonstrate their skills in improvisations and in transcriptions. That is how they did it: Franz Liszt, with Paganini’s violin capriccios, Ferruccio Busoni with the works of Bach, and many others. Julia Bal very successfully transfers such tradition to the XXI century.

This work of Julia Bal makes a great contribution tour community, for the cultural heritage of Serbia. It will, as well as her other transcriptions, worthily represent local creativity in the music scene of the world.  

Biljana Gorunović, 

Head of Department for Piano 

Academy of Arts, Novi Sad 


 Transcription can be a very tricky business. Too often, the transcriber goes well beyond the initial intention of making a piece written for one instrument playable on another, and “improves” the original to the point where it is almost unrecognizable. Then again, there are the transcriptions that are made so unidiomatic for the instrument they are transcribed for that you wonder why the task was undertaken. Both of these options must be very attractive, as they seem to happen quite often.

            Happily, Julija Bal, in her transcription for piano of Heitor Villa-Lobos’ 12 Guitar Studies, seems to have found the right balance between these two potential problems. She has created a publication that doesn’t try to improve on the composer’s already fine work, and very successfully makes the new version entirely idiomatic and pianistic. One can almost hear a guitar performing this wonderful music in tandem with the piano for which this has been so skillfully transcribed, yet this piano version stands firmly on its own.The spirit of Villa-Lobos is quite evident as is Julija’s passion for the music. 

          This is abundantly clear in the CD that accompanies the publication. She brings a European sensitivity that is entirely in keeping with the composer’s intent, yet seems to understand the Brazilian side of his creative personality as well. Julija Bal has found a way to make a wonderful addition to the piano repertoire that is in keeping with the intent of the original composition, yet feels like something wonderfully new.

Jeffrey James

President of Jeffrey James Arts Consultinghttp: