Roberto Firpo

Roberto Firpo was an influential pianist, composer and director of the guardia vieja. He introduced the piano to the orquesta típica and was among first musicians to record tango and to introduce it to good houses, theaters, cinema and radio. He performed with the duo Gardel-Razzano, composed the third part of “La cumparsita” and performed Mi noche triste as part of the sainete “Los dientes del perro”. Between 1912 and 1959 he recorded an estimated 3000 tracks, 1650 of them in the acoustic area [2]. His most famous work as a composer is “Alma de Bohemio”.

Born in 1884 in Las Flores, province of Buenos Aires, Firpo began working at a young age at his father’s store to help sustain his family. When he was 14-years-old he was sent to Buenos Aires to work and this is where he met his friend Juan Deambroggio and began to study music on his own.

When Firpo was 19-years old he was finally able to afford his first piano and began taking lessons. He studied with Alfredo Bevilacqua and soon after in 1906 he began performing, forming duos and trios with his friends Juan Deambroggio (bandoneon), Juan Carlos Bazán (clarinette) and Francisco Postiglione (violin).

His success was such that by 1907 Firpo was a regular at Lo de Hansen. Around this time came his first compositions, some of which were recorded by Juan Maglio in 1910 and 1911. Soon he was performing everywhere in the city from la Boca to Avenida Corrientes. El Velódromo, El tambito, Bar iglesias, L’Abbaye, Teatro Nacional and Salón San Martín are some of the place where he used to play early on in his career. He began recording himself in 1912 for the label Odeon.

By 1913 Firpo had formed his first orchestra. To the trio composed of Eduardo Arola (bandoneon) and Tito Roccatagliatta (violin) he added a second violin (Agesilao Ferrazzano) and other musicians including Leopoldo Thompson (double bass), turning his trio into a cuarteto and a quinteto. His orchestra was the most sophisticated at this point and it performed in prestigious venues such as the cabarets Armenonville, Palais de Glace and Royal Pigall. [1] Around that time came some of his most famous compositions including “Sentimiento criollo”, “De pura cepa” and “Alma de bohemio”. [3]

In 1930 Firpo decided to quit tango. He bought a ranch and was determined to dedicate himself to his estancia but a great flood destroyed his properties and he lost the rest of his fortune when the stock market crashed. Back in Buenos Aires he continued performing and recording until he retired in 1959.

Roberto Firpo died in 1969 having had one of the longest and most prolific career of all tango musicians. He was always faithful to the old fashion style of interpretation of the guardia viejaπ

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[1] Tango: Cien anos de historia (Vol. II). Buenos Aires: Editorial Perfil, 1992. Print.

[2] Taboada, Pablo Darío. Roberto Firpo: Historia de su vida artistica. Investigación tango. Online http://www.investigaciontango.com/inicio/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=203:roberto-firpo&catid=42:orquestas&Itemid=62

[3] Selles, Roberto and Pinsón, Nestor. Roberto Firpo. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/creadores/biografia/37/Roberto-Firpo/

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