Organito de la tarde (tango, 1923)

“Organito de la tarde” is a 1923 tango composed by Catúlo Castillo with the lyrics of his father Jose González Castillo. It celebrates in very poetic terms the obsolete portable instrument which used to “fill the neighborhood with musical notes” at the turn of the 20th century.

Al paso tardo de un pobre viejo
puebla de notas el arrabal,
con un concierto de vidrios rotos,
el organito crepuscular.

At a time when tango was little more then a vulgar product of poor uprooted immigrants jamming together in the suburbs and recording technologies were not yet available, it is said that the organito allowed it’s melodies to enter every household through the windows. The organito became obsolete in the 1920’s and so it’s repetitive, monotonus sound ceased to fill the air as described by José Gonzalez Castillo.

“Organito de la tarde” was presented in the first contest organized by Max Glucksmann in 1924 at the cine-teatro Gran Splendid. Only the music was eligible for the contest at that time. Each piece was performed by Roberto Firpo and voted by the public in various elimination rounds. [2]

Apparently this public contest was not very objective as there is evidence that Canaro, Lomuto and Gonzalez Castillo were competing to buy entries in order to win the vote. [1] Catúlo Castillo won the third place with “Organito de la tarde”. In firts and second place were “Sentimiento gaucho” by Francisco and Rafael Canaro and “Pa’ que te acordes” by Francisco Lomuto.

One year after the contest, “Organito de la tarde” was premiered in Teatro San Matín by Azucena Maizani. Soon after it was recorded by the orchestra of Francisco Canaro and featured in a 1925 silent movie also entitled “Organito de la tarde” by José Agustín Ferreyra. Carlos Gardel recorded his own version in his early years with Odeon and Carlos Di Sali produced 3 instrumental versions in 1942, 1952 and 1954. Other recorded versions of “Organito de la tarde” include those of Rodolfo Biagi (1956) and Roberto Ruffino (1959).

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[1] Del Priore, Oscar, and Irene Amachástegui. Cien tangos fundamentales. Buenos Aires: Aguilar, 1998. Print.

[2] Concursos de Max Gluksmann. Wikipedia. Online. https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concursos_de_Max_Gl%C3%BCcksmann

[3] Tálice, Roberto A. “Evocación y ubicación de José Gonzalez Castillo”. In La historia del tango: Los poets (I). Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1977.

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