Juan Andrés Caruso

Juan Andrés Caruso was a journalist, playwright and prolific tango lyricist of the 1920’s. He wrote his first tango “Cara sucia” for his friend Francisco Canaro in 1918. In the 1920’s he became one of the favourite lyricists of Carlos Gardel who recorded 38 his tangos. In 1930 he wrote the lyrics of one of the great classics of the tango repertoire, “Alma de Bohemio” by Roberto Firpo.

Caruso was born in La Plata in the Province of Buenos Aires in 1890. Having lost his parents at a young age he came to Buenos Aires where he worked as a claque in the theaters of avenida Corrientes between other jobs. Soon after, following some incident involving a theft, he moved to the city of Bahia Blanca where he began working in a print shop. This is where he began working a journalist for a local newspaper, Hoja del Pueblo.

Back in Buenos Aires in 1910, Caruso moved to the neighbourhood of San Cristobal where he made friends with Francisco Canaro and other musicians of the guardia vieja including  Vicente Greco, Genaro Exposito and Samuel Castriota. [2] This was before Pascual Contursi and the emergence of the tango canción or tango song so Caruso didn’t write any tango yet but estilos, a popular style of song we would now refer to as folclore. [3]

When the new tango poetry emerged in 1917 with the success of Mi noche triste“, Caruso was one of the first song writers to contribute with “Cara sucia” (1918), turning an old pornographic tango by Casimiro Alcorta into a decent song. Other compositions by Caruso include No me escribas, El taita ladrón, Nobleza de arrabal, La ultima copa,  Sentimiento gaucho and Alma de bohemio.  

Caruso wrote over 30 plays and sainetes over the years, the first of which was “Nobleza de arrabal” (1919) also with Francisco Canaro. He was director of the magazine El Teatro Nacional.

Juan Andrés Caruso died in Buenos Aires in 1931. He was 41-years-old.

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[1] Gobello, Jose. Mujeres y hombres que hicieron el Tango. Buenos Aires: Libertador, 2008.

[2] Canaro, Fransicso. Mis memorias: Mis bodas de oro con el tango. Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1999. Print.

[3] Pinson, Nestor. Juan Andres Caruso. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/creadores/biografia/647/Juan-Andres-Caruso/

 

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