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Rodolfo Biagi

Rodolfo Biagi was a pianist, composer and director of the golden age of tango. He is known for his bold, rhythmical style of interpretation which takes the piano out of the background and into the spotlight. His nickname, Manos Brujas, means “sorcerer’s hands”. He is the author of many popular tangos such as “Indiferencia”, “Humillacion” and “Campo afuera”.

Rodolfo Biagi was born in Buenos Aires in 1906. Growing up in a humble family in the neighbourhood of San Telmo, it was difficult to convince his parents of buying him an instrument in his youth. However his insistence in becoming a musician was so strong they eventually agreed to buy him a violin and went to study at the conservatory of La Prensa.

Soon after he began his musical education Biagi discovered his preference for piano. He began working as a pianist at the Cine Colon when he was 13 years old and this is where Juan Maglio discovered him. He was invited to join the famous orquesta típica of Juan Maglio and began performing at the Cafe Nacional and Bar Dominguez on Avenida Corrientes. Later on he worked with the orchestra of Miguel Orlando at the Maipu Pigall, alternating with Elvino Vardaro, Cayetano Puglisi and Juan Bautista Guido. In 1930, he recorded with Carlos Gardel in the studios of Max Gluksmann.

After refusing an offer to travel to Spain with Carlos Gardel, Biagi joined the orchestra of Juan Bautista Guido and performed at the Cine Real and Cine Suipacha. There he missed the pleasure of performing im a cabaret and went back to the Pigall and Casanova with the orchestra of Juan Canaro.

In 1935, Biagi joined the orchestra of Juan d’Arienzo performing at the Chantecler. Together they worked for 4 years while forging their own styles until Biagi decided to assemble his own orchestra in 1939. This is when he began to fully express himself as a musician, taking his instrument another step beyond the simple role accompaniment which was usually reserved to the piano in tango orchestras.

Biagi made his debut as a director at the cabaret Marabu and Radio Belgrano. There he was remained 20 years and received the surname of Mano Brujas.

Rodolpho Biagi had a long successful career as a director. He worked with many signers including estribillistas Teofilo Ibanez and Andres Falgas in the beginning; Jorge Ortiz, Alberto Lago, Alberto Amor, Carlos Acuna and Carlos Saavedra later on in the 1940’s; Carlos Heredia, Carlos Almagro and Hugo Duval in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He appeared in the show Glostora tango club of Radio el Mundo and was the star of the television program entitled Casino Philips on Canal 13.

Rodolfo Biagi died on September 24, 1969 leaving 187 recordings as a director with the labels Odeon, Columbia and Music Hall. We can see him perform with the orchestra of Juan d’Arienzo in the 1937 movie “Melodias portenas”.

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[1] Gobello, José. Mujeres y hombre que hicieron el tango. Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de Cultura Argentina, 2002. Print.

[2] Alvarez, Carlos. ”Biagi: Entrevista a Rodolfo Biagi en 1960”. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/historias/cronica/286/Biagi-Entrevista-a-Rodolfo-Biagi-en-1960/

Chantecler

El Chantecler was a luxurious Buenos Aires cabaret located on Parana 440, between avenida Corrientes and Lavalle. It was initially owned by a french man named Charles Seguin, who was also owner of the Casino and Tabari. It was briefly named Vieux Paris in the 1930s.

Built and designed chanteclerin 1924 to be a cabaret, the Chantecler featured a driveway for automobiles to drop guests at the door, 3 dance floors and a large theater with VIP boxes which were equipped with telephones for the guests to place orders at the bar. It also featured an interior pool where beautiful young people could be seen swimming and playing games. The doorman and host of the house was Ángel Sánchez Carreño, also known as El principe cubano. Another well-known character of the mythical cabaret Chantecler was Giovanna Ritana, or Jeannette, who managed the place with her husbands after the death of Charles Seguin. [1]

For more then 30 years, El Chantecler attracted tourists and wealthy locals to eat, drink, dance and enjoy some of the finest entertainment in the city. It was inaugurated by the Sexteto Julio de Caro which was composed of Julio de Caro himself, his brothers Emilio and Francisco de Caro, Pedro Laurenz, Pedro Maffia and Leopoldo Thompson. In the 1930’S it became the primary scene of Juan D’Arienzo who gave a second life to tango dance and music with his cheerful and rhythmical style of interpretation. This is where D’Arienzo began working with Rodolfo Biagi in 1935 and met Pablo Osvaldo Valle, director of Radio el Mundo.

Like other Buenos Aires cabarets, the Chantecler became inactive as tango fell out of fashion with the youth of the 1950’s. It was demolished in 1960. Two tangos were composed to celebrate it, “Adiós Chantecler” by Enrique Cadicamo and “Glorioso Chantecler” by Juan Polito. A 1948 movie, “El cantor del pueblo”, was filmed inside allowing us to see couples dancing to the orchestra of Juan d’Arienzo. [3] A musical entitled “Chantecler Tango” was produced in 2015 by Mora Godoy.

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[1] Parise, Eduardo. El templo de la vieja noche porteña. Clarín, mayo 2015. Online.  https://www.clarin.com/ciudades/secreta-buenos_aires-chantecler_0_rkEDoFYDml.html(1)

[2] Palacio, Jorge. Los cabarets de los anos cuarenta. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/historias/cronica/163/Los-cabarets-de-los-anos-cuarenta/

[3] Juan D’Arienzo performing at the Chantecler. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAEeBRbwhJk

 

 

 

Juan D’Arienzo

Juan d’Arienzo was a violonist, composer and influential director of the guardia nueva. Also known as El rey del compas, or king of rhythm, his style of interpretation is characterized by a fast and steady beat which appealed to the youth in the mid 1930’s. With this renewed energetic style he gave a new impulse to tango as a dance and musical genre following the death of Carlos Gardel in 1935.

Juan D’Arienzo was born in the neighborhood of Balvanera to a family of Italian immigrants in 1900. He began studying the violin at the Conservatorio Mascagni when he was 11-years-old and completed his education with professor Fassano at the institute Thiebaud Piazzini. With his friends, Angel d’Agostino (piano) and Carlos Bianchi (bandoneon), he formed his first trio and began performing tango and jazz.

In 1926 Juan D’Arienzo decided to dedicated himself exclusively to tango. He performed in movie theaters with the Orquesta típica Paramount and the sexteto Los Ases. He also began forming his own orchestra and made his first recordings with Electra and the voice of Carlos Dante.

When sound films entered movie theatres in the 1930’s, leaving many musicians out of a job, Juan d’Arienzo was hired to perform with his orchesta típica at the cabaret Chantecler. This is where he spent the best years of his career and became the orchestra director we remember today. This is where he began working with Rodolfo Biagi (piano) and encountered the cheerful style of interpretation which brought tango back to life.

The success of Juan d’Arienzo at the Chanteclerc was sudden and intense. He began recording with RCA Victor and appearing on Radio Mundo. Dance halls and tango orchestras were flourishing around the city. D’Arienzo began traveling to Montevideo and became a regular at Teatro Solis and Café Tupí Nambá. In 1937 he appeared for the first time in a movie, “Melodias porteñas”. This movie was followed by many others including “Yo quiero ser bataclana” (1941), “El cantor del pueblo” (1948), “La voz de mi ciudad” (1953) and “Una ventana al éxito” (1966).

Though he thought singers were responsible for killing tango, taking the focus away from the beat, D’Arienzo worked with many distinguished estribillistas and signers throughout his career including Francisco Fiorentino, Alberto Echague, Hector Mauré and Armando Laborde. All of them were required to to follow the speed of the orchestra as d’Arienzo would never make any compromise on his conception of the music and rhythm.

Juan d’Arienzo is the author of many milongas of the new energetic and urban genre which we can hear in today’s milonga and contributes largely to impose this new genre in the 1930’s. This style of milonga must not be confused with the original milonga campera which pertains to Argentina folk music and contributed to the formation of tango at it’s origins.

While new musical styles were flourishing in the golden age, Juan D’Arienzo went on performing and recording with the same fast paced, rhythmical style. Critics said he had become repetitive and failed to evolve and this idea unfortunately has been repeated many time out of it’s original context. From a historical perpective Juan D’Arienzo was one of the most innovative director of tango history and the original force behind all the changes he has been accused of not following. It’s also important to note that he remains a favourite among dancers throughout the golden age and to this day.

When it became clear that tango dancing was not in style anymore, Juan d’Arienzo finally made some changes to his music and began performing on a more melodic tone in the 1960’s. He went on performing and recording until his death in 1976.

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

[2] Gobello, José. “Juan d’Arienzo” in Tango y Lunfardo. Chivilcoy, 1997. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/creadores/biografia/32/Juan-DArienzo/

[3] Jara, Fernanda. Hace 42 anos moría Juan D´Arienzo, El rey del compás. Infobae. Online. https://www.infobae.com/cultura/2018/01/14/hace-42-anos-moria-juan-darienzo-el-rey-del-compas/

Derecho viejo (tango, 1916)

“Derecho viejo” is a 1916 tango composed by bandoneonista Eduardo Arolas. The title, as it was often the case in those days when copyrights did not exist, was chosen in honor of those to whom the piece was dedicated, in this case a group of law students.

According to an interview with musicologist Rafael Tuegols, published in the magazine Cantando in 1948, “Derecho viejo” was first performed at the cafe La Morocha where Arolas used to play for a crowd of workers from the brick kiln of the Parque Centenario.

Like many other compositions by Eduardo Arolas, “Derecho viejo” is structured in a way which allows for rich arrangements. It has been recorded countless times by various orchestras and solo artists from Julio de Caro and Francisco Canaro, to Juan d’Arienzo, Francini-Pointier, Nelly Omar, Astor Piazzolla and many others including contemporary orchestras. It has become one of  the best known pieces of the repertoire along with “La Cumparsita” and “El Choclo” and is commonly featured in tango shows. There unfortunately are no  recordings of it by Eduardo Arolas.

Though “Derecho viejo” is almost exclusively known as an instrumental theme, it is good to know that two sets of lyrics were written for it many years after its creation. The first one was written by Andrés Baldesari and recorded by the Orquesta Típica Victor with estribillo by Teófil Ibáñez in 1934.

Usted sabrá que cuando el amor comienza a taconear sentimientos en el pecho, la dulce tentación, sentimos sed de amar, de amar de corazón!

Y yo tambien amé con gran passión, amé con gran delirio, y coseché martirios, porque un padecer me brindó esa mujer que fue mi perdición!

The second one was written by Gabriel Clausi shortly before the 50th anniversary of Eduardo Arolas’s death and was officially registered in order to extend the copyright on “Derecho viejo” by the composer’s successors. This version was recorded by Nelly Omar accompanied by guitars in 1979.

Tango de mi ciudad, malevo y sensual, cayengue y triston, color de arrabal. Señor de salon, tienes emoción de noche porteña.

“Derecho viejo” is the title of a 1951 movie by Manuel Romero, inspired by the life of Eduardo Arolas.

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

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

 

Eduardo Arolas

Eduardo Arolas, also known as El tigre del bandoneon, was an influential bandoneon player, composer and director of the early days of the guardia vieja. He is the author of over 100 tangos including classics such as “Derecho viejo”, “La cachila”, “Retintin” and “Comme il faut”. With his vanguardist compositions and quality of interpretation, he contributed largely to define tango in its early stage. Many distinguished musicians of the guardia vieja made their debuts in his orchestra including Juan Carlos Cobian, Julio de Caro and Luis Bernstein.

Lorenzo Arola was born in Buenos Aires in 1892. He grew up in the neighbourhood of Barracas where his father owned a store. With his older brother he learned to play the guitar when he was 8 years old and began playing in the cafes of la Boca. This is how he met Ricardo Gonzalez who first thought him to play the bandoneon. Together they performed in duo for a while until Eduardo went his own way.

In 1911, Eduardo Arolas was 19 years old and fully dedicated to music. He studied with Jose Bombig and opened a café called “Una noche de garufa” where he performed on his own. This is where he composed his first tango, which bears the same name as the cafe.

Like many tango musicians of the first generation, Eduardo Arolas didn’t know how to read or write music. However he was a brilliant, prolific and innovative composer. He was also known for his style of interpretation and phrasing, which is more fluid then other orchestras of that time and sets new standards for tango musicians.

With his talent as a composer and interpreter, Eduardo Arolas quickly became popular around the city. With Leopoldo Thompson (guitarra) and Ernesto Ponzio (violin), he began performing at Café La Turca and traveled to Montevideo. Back in Buenos Aires, he formed another trio with Agustín Bardi (piano) and Tito Roccatagliatta (violin) and later on a cuarteto with flute. He was invited to perform at the prestigious cabaret Armenonville with Roberto Firpo in 1913 and then began forming his own orchestra.

With his orquestra típica, Eduardo Arolas continued performing in prestigious venues and cabarets such as El Estribo, L’Abbaye and Montmartre. He performed at Café Botafogo and Royal Pigall in In 1916 and Café Apolo in 1917. In those years he composed some of his most famous pieces and left recordings in which we can hear him play solo or with his orchestra.

During the last years of his life, Eduardo Arolas suffered from depression and alcoholism. He traveled extensively to Montevideo where he was a star at the carnavals of 1920 and to Paris where he performed at prestigious venues such as the Cabaret Parisien and Ermitage, contributing to the popularization of tango in the old world. He died in Paris in 1924 at 32 years old.

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

[2] García Blaya, Ricardo. Eduardo Arolas. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/creadores/biografia/23/Eduardo-Arolas/

 

Armenonville

The Armenonville was a remakably luxurious cabaret frequented by the high society of the 1910’s and 1920’s. It was located near the edge of the city of Buenos Aires on Avenida Alvear, now Libertador, at the corner of Tagle.

The building itself was a two story chalet designed to resemble a French hunting pavillon of the same name. It was surrounded by large green spaces and parks with enchanting terraces and rotondas. It was particularly popular during the summer months for the upper classes to escape the city in good style.

The food was of the very best quality at the cabaret Armenonville, just as everything else the cabaret had to offer. Promotional posters announced the finest french cuisine, imported wines, parking for automobiles and carriages, beautiful terraces, gardens and the finest entertainment.

The purpose of a cabaret is to offer dinner and show and so the ground level inside of the Armenonville was organized around a large dance floor and a stage. The room was surrounded not only by tables but also by boxes and balconies like in a theatre.

This most highly fashionable venue was inaugurated by Vicente Greco and his orquesta típica in 1911. Other tango musicians who performed at the Armenonville in the early years include Roberto Firpo, Eduardo Arolas and Augustin Bardi.

The Armenonville also played an important role in advancing the career of Carlos Gardel. In 1913, Gardel was hired to perform at the Armenonville with José Razanno for 70 pesos per night, a sum for which Gardel admitted he would have been grateful to wash the dishes as well. There the duo attracted the attention of Pablo Podestá, a regular who led them to travel to Montevideo where Gardel discovered his first tango, “Mi noche triste”.

When the Armenonville was demolished in 1925, the owners Carlos Bonifacio Lanzavecchia and Manuel Loreiro took their business to a new location. The cabaret Armenonville became Les Ambassadeurs.

There is a 1912 tango by Juan Maglio entitled “Armenonville”.

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

[2] “El Armenonville, un cabaret inspirador”. Clarin, october 8, 2012. Online. https://www.clarin.com/ciudades/Armenonville-cabaret-inspirador_0_ryfGMJkhvXl.html

[3] “Carlos Gardel: Debut en Armenonville.” Hagase la musica. Online. http://www.hlmtango.com/notas/carlos-gardel/debut-en-el-armenonville/

[4] Cabaré Armenonville. Arcón de Buenos Aires. Online. http://www.arcondebuenosaires.com.ar/conf_armenonville.htm

Cabaret

The cabaret is a type of night club featuring dinner and show. In Buenos Aires they appeared in the early 1910’s and are closely related to the history of tango. During the 1930’s they evolved into luxurious restaurants with a dance floor surrounded by tables and a bar. This is where the major orchestras of the golden age such as those of Juan d’Arienzo and Anibal Troilo could be found on a regular basis.

The Buenos Aires cabarets were located mostly in the center of the city along avenida Corrientes. Some were frequented only by men and were animated by the mysterious alternadoras, coperas and papirusas, which were all women who were in charge of entertaining men and get them to consume and to come back. Some of these restaurants-dancing also were designed for couples to go out together for a cozy evening.

The cabaret of the golden age was usually associated to a particular tango orchestra which was the main attraction of the house and a measure of their prestige. Juan d’Arienzo was the star at Chanteclerc, Anibal Troilo the soul of Tibidabo and Lucio Demare was at El Casanova.

If tango orchestras were the main attraction at the cabaret of the golden age, they were not the only entertainment. Jazz orchestras and other performers were also featured before and after during the evening. And on Saturdays the típicas were off to perform in popular dance halls across the city.

Some of the legendary cabarets of Buenos Aires are the Armenonville, the Chantecler, the Royal Pigall, the Marabú and Palais de glace. These were the luxurious cabarets mostly located along the Avenida Corrientes. More humble cabarets, also known as los del Bajo, were located near the port and what is now the Centro cultural Kirtchner. The Ocean Dancing, which featured Miguel Caló and Osvaldo Pugliese, was located at Leandro N. Alem 286. Nearby was the Montmartre, el Royal, el Derby and Cielo de California where guests were greeted by a doorman dressed up like a cowboy. [2]

When the popularity of tango and live music declined in the 1950’s and 60’s, most cabarets were already closed. They remain present and alive in the poetry of tango, and their influence is obvious in the organization of traditional milongas.

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

[2] Palacio, Jorge. Los cabarets de los anos cuarenta. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/historias/cronica/163/Los-cabarets-de-los-anos-cuarenta/