Category Archives: Biographies

Evaristo Carriego

Evaristo Carriego was a poet of minor importance of the early 1900’s. His name became associated to the origins of tango through the work of Jorge Luis Borges who saw in him the inventor of a style of urban poetry which is at the root of tango.  Though Carriego was never a famous author nor a man of tango, his name today has a tremendous power to evoke the spirit of the city, the mythical neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and the essence of tango itself.

Evaristo Francisco Estanislao Carriego was born in the province of Entre Rios in 1883. When he was four-years-old his family moved to Buenos Aires, to the house on Honduras street where Evaristo grew up and lived until his death in 1912.

This neighbourhood where Carriego spent his life, late 19th centruy Palermo with all it’s roughness, home of poor uprooted immigrants, cuchilleros and compadritos, bajofondo and birthplace of tango, this is the universe in which Carriego lived, loved and found poetry.

Little is know about his life besides what Borges wrote about him. [1] Borges knew Carriego personally in his youth as a neighbor and a friend of the family. [3] His father used to hang out with the poet and Borges was strongly impressed by his presence and deeply touched by his depictions of the Buenos Aires he knew if his childhood.

According to Borges, Carriego used to hang out in literary cafes. Very sentimental and introvert. lived of simple thing everyday nothing fancy and was the first to discover the poetic potential of. Themewich remained present in tango.

 discover the beauty and poetry in rough neighbourhood of Buenos Aires at the turn of the 20th century. His poetry was born of the simple reality of life in a fast growing city. just like the tango it is a testimony of the genesis of Buenos Aires and opened the way to style of poetry and themes which would become constant in tango from Angel Villoldo to Homero Manzi and Horacio Ferrer. Everyday like in the rough neighbourhood, the malevos, cuchilleros and compadritos, the organito and of course, women.

Carriego died of tuberculosis in 1912, at age 29, leaving one published book Misas herejesEl alma del suburbio and La canción del barrio  which contained poetry he is known for today were published after his death.

The house where he lived on Honduras street was bought by the city of Buenos Aires in 1977 to host a museum and library. La Bibliotheca Evaristo Carriego was opened to the public in 1981 and became home to over 5 500 documents in print and electronic formats including various collections of poetry. It closed in 2013 for renovations and unfortunately remains closed to this day. [2]

Other tributes to this mythical character of tango history include a piece by Astor Piazzolla entitled “Milonga Carrieguera” and a tango by Eduardo Ravira, “A Evaristo Carriego”, recorded by Pugliese in 1969. There is a street in Palermo named after him. π

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[1] Borges, Jorge Luis. Evaristo Carriego. Buenos Aires. Emece, 1989. Print.

[2] Ordenan reconstruir la casa donde vivio Evaristo Carriego. La Nacion, March 27, 2014. Online. http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1675640-ordenan-reconstruir-la-casa-donde-vivio-evaristo-carriego 

[3] Borges, Jorge Luis. El tango: cuatro conferencias. Buenos Aires. Sudamericana, 2016. Print.

[4] Domingo, Luis Hernández. Frontera, llanura, patria: Un otro Borges. Anales de la Literatura Hispanoamericana, 1999. 28: 731-744. Online.  https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=52363

Juan Maglio

Juan Maglio, also known as “Pacho”, was a popular bandoneonista, director and composer of the guardia vieja. He was among the first tango musicians to adopt the bandoneon along with Eduardo Arolas, Vicente Greco and Arturo Bernstein. He contributed to popularize tango in Buenos Aires cafes in the 1910’s and composed many titles still present today’s repertoire.

Juan Felix Maglio was born in Palermo in 1880 to a family of Italian immigrants. Together they moved to Boedo when he was 12-years-old. His father Pantaleón owned a concertina and used to perform in cafes in the neigbourhood and this is how Pacho first came in contact with tango.

After completing primary school Juan Maglio studied to become a mechanic and began learning to play the bandoneon on his spare time. He studied with Domingo Santa Cruz and eventually made a decision to dedicate himself to music.

In 1899 Juan Maglio began performing at the cafe El Vasco en Barracas and other cafes in the neighborhoods of San Telmo and Palermo. [3] By 1910 he was well known in the city and with his cuarteto he began to play at the cafe La Paloma and other cafes along avenida Corrientes. In 1912 he began recording for Columbia and his discs were so popular that a special label was created for him with his picture and signature. The other members of his cuarteto at that time were Luciano Rios (guitar), Carlos “Hernani” Macchi (flute) and Jose “Pepino” Bonano (violin).

His first composition was El zurdo followed shortly after by Armenonville. Other compositions by Juan Maglio Pacho include “La pareja”, “Margot”, “Sabedo ingles”, “Un copetin” and “Toma mate”. 

With all his success Juan Maglio was in a position to buy the cafe Ambos mundos where he used to play. He also invested in his recording company but lost everything during the war. Having lost his fortune he went on performing in cafes, carnivals, theaters and on the radio for the rest of his life. [2] In the 1920’s he created a sexteto where 15-year-old Anibal Troilo made his debut. He also founded a trio of bandoneon with Jose and Luis Servidio. Some of his work was signed with the pseudonym Oglima.

Juan Maglio held on the old fashion style of playing the tango until the end of his career. He died in 1934 leaving almost 900 recordings.   π

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

[2] Pesce, Ruben, Oscar del Priore, and Silvestre Byron. La historia del tango: La guardia vieja. Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1977. Print.

[3] Gobello, Jose. Mujeres y hombres que hicieron el tango. Buenos Aires: Centro editor de Cultura Argentina, 2002. Print.

Ángel Villoldo

Ángel Villoldo was a musician, signer and composer of the early guardia vieja. He contributed to popularize tango in Buenos Aires cafes in the 1900’s and is regarded as the father of tango. Some say he was among the first to bring tango to Europe along with Alfredo and Flora Gobbi. [1] He is also the composer of one of the oldest and most famous tango of all times, “El Choclo”.

Ángel Gregorio Villodo Arroyo was born in Buenos Aires in 1868 in the neighborhood of Barracas. In his youth he worked at many different jobs and learned to play the guitar and harmonica in his spare time. Around 1900 he made a name for himself as a payador and performing tangos as well.

Villoldo is the most important lyricist of the guardia vieja. [2] His lyrics were not of sentimental nature like those of Pascual Contursi and other poets of the guardia nueva. They were more closely related to the songs of the country though they did present urban scenes and characters such as the compadritos and cuchilleros which are associate to the origins of tango.

Villoldo composed over 70 tangos, the first of which was “El Portenito”, followed shortly after by “El Choclo” (1903). He also wrote lyrics for “La Morocha” by Enrique Saborido and “El Entreriano” by Rosendo Mendizábal. His songs were interpreted by himself and other signers including Dora Miramar, Linda Thelma, Flora Rodriguez, Lea Conti and Pepita Avellaneda. [2]

It is said that Ángel Villoldo traveled to Paris to record for Gath y Chaves and contributed to popularize tango in Europe, though according to Hector Benedetti there is no evidence that Viollodo did travel to Paris and these records were never seen. [3]

Back in Buenos Aires, Villoldo played in cafes near the corner of Suarez and Necochea in the neighbourhood of La Boca where an increasing number of tango musicians including Vicente Greco, Francisco Canaro and Roberto Firpo were also performing in 1908. [2]

Villoldo published a compilation of Argentine folk songs in 1889 and another compilation of popular Argentinean songs in 1916. [1] He died in Buenos Aires in 1919 at age 51. π

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[1] Pinsón, Néstor. “Biographía de Ángel Villoldo.” Todotango.com. Web. Aug 2016.

[2] Pesce ,Ruben, Oscar del Priore, and Silvestre Byron. La historia del tango: La guardia vieja. Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1977. Print.

[3] Benedetti, Hector Angel. “La tienda Gath & Chavez tambien publicó discos.” Todotango.com. Web. Aug 2016.

 

Carlos Gardel

Carlos Gardel was a signer, guitarist, composer and actor of the early guardia nueva. In the 1920’s he contributed to the renovation of tango by popularizing a new style of song known as tango canción. With his vision, personal charisma and quality of interpretation, Gardel became an international star and a pioneer in the sound recording and filming industry. His tragic death in a plane crash in 1935 definitely turned him into an legend and he remains to this day the most famous and respected figure of tango history.

Charles Romuald Gardes was born in Toulouse, France, in 1890 of an unknown father. He was still a very young child when his mother Marie Berthe Gardes came to Buenos Aires where she worked as a planchadora, ironing clothes for a modest living and raising her son in poor pensions known as conventillos in the neighbourhood of San Nicolas. Growing up near the heart of the city, Gardel was attracted to the nightlife of his neighborhood and he got his first job as a claque, applauding the artists in the theaters of avenida Corrientes.

Later in the neighbourhood of Abasto Charles Gardes began signing in public with the help of his mentor the payador José Betinotti. In 1911 he met José Razzano with whom he began performing ias a duo at the Café de los Angelitos, and 1912 he got his first opportunity to record for Columbia under the name of Carlos Gardel. In 1915 the duo Gardel-Razzano began traveling to Uruguay and Brasil where Gardel met the Italian tenor Enrico Caruso who had an important influence on him. Two years later in Montevideo he met Pascual Contursi and recorded his first tango, “Mi noche tristewhich opens the way to a profound renovation of tango.

At this point Gardel was a popular singer of folk songs and other fashionable rhythms from Europe.  His repertoire was composed of estilos, zambas, tonadas, waltz and other popular songs. Following the success of “Mi noche triste” he began working with a growing new repertoire of sentimental tango songs which are which is now known as tango canción. Not only did Gardel saw the potential of this new style of tango song but he was setting the standards for their interpretation. His repertoire would still include folk songs and an occasional foxtrop or pasodoble but by the time he began his solo career in 1925 he had become the voice of tango.

Besides his activities as a singer, Carlos Gardel wrote music for many tangos including two of his greatest hits, “Mano a mano” by Celedonio Flores (with José Razzano) and “Mi Buenos Aires querido” by Alfredo Le Pera. In the 1930’s he produced a series of short movies which are regarded as some of the first video clips in history and he was starred in various movies including “Las luces de Buenos Aires”, “Melodia de arrabal”, “Cuesta abajo”, “Tango bar” and “El dia que me quieras”.

Carlos Gardel died in 1935 in a plane crash in Medellin, Columbia,  while touring south America. According to the Internet Movie Database, his voice and image appeared in over 80 movies after his death [3] and a popular say in Argentina is that he sings better everyday.   π

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[1] Gobello, José. Mujeres y hombres que hicieron el tango. Librerias Libertador, 2002. Print.

[2] Cárcamo, Antonio José. Carlos Gardel discographía. Por siempre…. Gardel. Online. http://gardel.unsl.edu.ar/carcamo.htm 

[3] Carlos Gardel filmography. IMDb, Online.   http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0306624/#composer

 

 

Francisco Canaro

Francisco Canaro was a prominent orchestra director, violinist and composer of the guardia vieja. He had a long and prolific career covering a period of over 50 years from the early years of tango with Vicente Greco up to the beginning of tango concerts in the 1960’s. He recorded over 3500 tracks, including over 900 titles in the acoustic era [3]. As a composer he left us with many classics including “Mano Brava”, “Sentimiento gaucho”, “La ultima copa”, “Sonar y nada mas”, “Madreselva”, “El chamuyo” and “Se dice de mi”.

Francisco Canarozzo was born in Uruguay in 1888 to a humble family of Italian immigrants. By age 10 he began working in the streets of Buenos Aires selling news papers along with his brothers to help sustain his family. His first violin was made by himself out an oil can from a factory where he used to work. [1]

With his oil can violin Francisco Canaro began performing in public for money. By 1908 he was a regular in the cafes and nightclubs of La Boca. He began working with the orchestra of his friend Vicente Greco and together they made their first recording in 1911. He composed his first tango “Pinta Brava” in 1912. Contributed to shape the first orquestas tipicas.

By 1925 Canaro was in Paris with his own orchestra. He also went to New York and toured the interior of Argentina. Japan.

He was the first to include a signer, or estribillista, in his orchestra in 1924. Some of the signers most identified with him in the early years are Charlo and Ada Falcon, a woman with whom he had a notorious love affair. [2] 

Canaro and contributed to many movies as a composer, actor and producer. In 1934 he founded his own production company, Rio de la Plata, which produced 11 movies but without much success. He also fought for copyrights and founded the Argentine Society of Composers and Songwriters (SADAIC).

According to José Gobello, writer, poet and founder of the academia Portena del Lunfardo, Canaro is the second most important figure of tango after Carlos Gardel. His memoirs published in 1956 are an important source on the history of tanog.

Canaro died of Paget’s disease in 1964. π

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

[2]  Yo no se que me han hecho tus ojos. Dir. Lorena Muñoz and Sergio Wolf. 2003. Film.

[3] Lanner, Christoph. “Discografia de Francisco Canaro”. sites.google.com. Web. Aug 2016.