Ángel Villoldo, also known as the “father of tango”, was a musician, singer and composer of the first generation of the guardia vieja. As a performer he contributed to the popularization of tango in the early 1900’s. He is the composer of one of the oldest and most famous tangos of all times, “El Choclo” (1903).
Ángel Gregorio Villodo Arroyo was born in Buenos Aires in 1868 in Barracas. In his youth he worked at many different jobs and learned to play the guitar and harmonica in his free time. Around 1900 he made a name for himself as a performer in the cafes of La Boca, contributing greatly to popularize tango where the payada was still dominating. Heis also remembered for his performances at the prestigious Restaurante 3 de Febrero in Palermo where his tango “El esquinazo” made a lasting impression.
An interesting fact about Villodo is that he was the most important tango lyricist of the guardia vieja. At a time when tango was merely and instrumental affair, he began writing lyrics which were inspired by the poetry the urban payador. These are not the sentimental tangos of Pascual contursi and the guardia nieva but they do lay the foundation for His tangos are the kind which describe the life in the city and anecdotes involving the compadritos and cuchilleros we now associate to the origins of tango.
Ángel Villoldo was a prolific composer with over 70 tangos in his repertoire, including “El esquinazo” (1900), “El Porteñito” (1903) and “El Choclo” (1903). He wrote lyrics for many of his own compositions as well as for “La Morocha” by Enrique Saborido and for “El Entrerriano“ by Rosendo Mendizábal. His songs were interpreted by himself and by other performers such Dora Miramar, Linda Thelma, Flora Rodriguez, Lea Conti and Pepita Avellaneda.
According to some, Ángel Villoldo traveled to Paris to record for Gath y Chaves and contributed to popularize tango in Europe. Others point out there is no evidence of that and no traces of these recordings.
Angel Villoldo died in Buenos Aires in 1919 at age 51.
Pesce ,Ruben, Oscar del Priore, and Silvestre Byron. La historia del tango: La guardia vieja. Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1977. Print.
El tango: Un siglo de historia (Vol. 3). Buenos Aires: Editorial Perfil, 1992. Print.
Benedetti, Hector Angel. “La tienda Gath & Chavez tambien publicó discos.” Todotango.com. Web. Aug 2016.