Category Archives: Compositions

Derecho viejo (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.

 

Los mareados (1942)

“Los mareados” is one of the most famous tango songs of  all times. The version we know today was written in 1942 by Enrique Cadícamo, at the request of Anibal Troilo, to the music of Juan Carlos Cobián.

One day in 1942, as he was beginning to perform with his orchestra at the cabaret Tibidabo, Anibal Troilo came to Enrique Cadícamo with an old instrumental recording by Osvaldo Fresedo. It was a 1922 recording of a tango by Juan Carlos Cobián entitled “Los dopados”. Troilo felt strongly inspired to rearrange and present it as soon as possible and he wanted Cadícamo to write the lyrics for him.

Cadícamo says he hesitated at first because the composer Juan Carlos Cobián was away in Mexico and had not given his consent for the project, but Troilo convinced him that it would be a winning situation for everyone if “Los dopados” resurfaced twenty years later as a hit. Cadícamo agreed to write the lyrics and changed the title to “Los mareados”.

Shortly after, the new song was premiered at the Tibidabo by the orchestra of Anibal Troilo with Roberto Fiorentino. “Los mareados” became one of Troilo’s greatest hits and the recording they made on June 15, 1942, remains among the great classics of the golden age.

When Juan Carlos Cobián returned to Argentina he could only be pleased to find his music was in vogue, but what Troilo and Cadícamo apparently didn’t know is that “Los Dopados” already had registered lyrics by Raul Doblas and Alberto Weisbach.

Bebe ese olvido que te ofrecen, que acallara tu almita herida, y asi podra, embrutecida, amar, beber, reir…

Busca del vicio el triste ensueño, bebe el olvido en su veneno, que si el beber hace olvidar, sera esa tu mayor felicidad.

Drink the forgiveness which isare  offered to you, which calms your soul, so you can, numbed, love, drink and laugh…

Go for the sad illusion of the vice, drink the forgiveness in its poison, and if drinking makes you forget, let that be your greatest happiness.

“Los Dopados” by Juan Carlos Cobian, Raul Doblas and Alberto Weisbach had been composed in 1922 for a play which was presented at the Teatro Porteño. It was recorded in 1923 by Roberto Diaz with the original lyrics and by Osvaldo Fresedo in instrumental version. Though “Los Mareados” are now one of the most famous Argentine songs of all times, the original lyrics by Doblas-Weisbach have fallen into oblivion.

In 1943, “Los Mareados” was banned by the new military government along with many other tangos which contain lunfardo terms or allusions to drunkness. Cadícamo wrote a new version entitled “En mi pasado”, which in spite of its beauty, and like many other pieces which were rewritten at that time, was hardly ever used or recorded.

When the prohibition was lifted in 1949, “Los Mareados” gained back its popularity. Since then it has been recorded by countless artists of all styles including Hector Mauré, Floreal Ruiz, Suzana Rinaldi, Raul Lavié, Astor Piazzolla, Mercedes Sosa with Roberto Goyeneche, Adriana Varela and pop singer Andrés Calamaro.

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

 

 

Garua (tango, 1943)

“Garua” is a 1943 tango by Anibal Troilo and Enrique Cadícamo. It was recorded by Troilo with Francisco Fiorentino for the label RCA Victor on august 4, 1943. Two days later, Pedro Laurenz recorded his own version with Alberto Podestá under the label Odeon.

“Garua” is the second of 3 tangos composed by Anibal Troilo with the lyrics of Enrique Cadicamo, the other two other being “Pa’ que bailen los muchachos” (1942) and “Naipe” (1944). According to Cadícamo, Troilo presented the music to him one night at the Tibidabo and asked if he could write the lyrics. As he walked home that night there was a very light rain or drizzle falling over him and this is where he conceived the first verses of his famous tango. [1]

¡Garúa! Solo y triste por la acera, va este corazón transido con tristeza de tapera.

Drizzle! Sad and lonely by the sidewalk, goes this hear striken with the sadness of an abandoned house.

Garua is a lunfardo term of Quechua origin which translates to “drizzle”. [4] The rains is a recurrent theme in tango and has been evoked directly or indirectly in many other pieces such as “El café de Los Angelitos”, “El ultimo café”, “Charlemos”, “Tarde gris”, and “La noche que te fuiste” as a symbol of loneliness.

It wasn’t long after that night when he walked back home under the drizzele that Cadícamo came back to el Tibidabo with “Garua” and just a few days later Troilo was rehearsing with Francisco Fiorentino.

The 1953 recording by Troilo and Fiorentino was followed by another one in 1962 by Troilo and Roberto Goyeneche who recorded two other versions with Raul Garello and Astor Piazzolla. Other well known interpretations of “Garua” include those of Hugo del Carril and Adriana Varela.

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

[2] Garúa. Tangos al Bardo, 2013. Online. http://tangosalbardo.blogspot.com.ar/2013/07/garua.html

[3] El tango y la lluvia. El Litoral, 2011. Online.  http://www.ellitoral.com/index.php/diarios/2011/08/20/escenariosysociedad/SOCI-02.html

[4] Diccionario lunfardo. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/comunidad/lunfardo/?i=G&s=all

 

La ultima curda

“La ultima curda” is one of the last great poems of the golden age of tango. It was written in 1956 by Catúlo Castillo to the music of Anibal Troilo. It tells the story of a deeply disillusioned man, talking to a bandoneon about the futility of life and the profound emotions he feels at the sound of a tango.

Curda is a lunfardo term which means “drunkenness” or “inebriation”; thus La ultima curda would translate as “the last  inebriation”. It is the third of a series of tangos which presents the bandoneon as a living character and friend of the lonely man in the style of “Che bandoneon” by Homero Manzi. It also resonates with the work of Enrique Discepolo as it takes tango poetry to the deepest level and ultimate apogee of existentialism.

¡Ya s’e, no me dig’as! ¡Tienes razon! La vida es una herida absurda, y todo es tan fugaz que es una curda, ¡Nada mas! Mi confesión.

I know, no need to say! You are right! Life is an absurd wound, and everything is so ephemeral that it’s as good as getting drunk to even bother telling my story (talking to the bandoneon).

In his memoirs, Roberto Rivero remembers a beautiful summer evening when they were rehearsing “La ultima curda” in Troilo’s apartment on Parana street, near Avenida Corrientes and the cabaret Chanteclerc. They were making the last arrangements when they noticed a crowd was amassed in the street, interrupting the late night traffic, so they went out on the balcony and performed “La ultima curda” for the first time in public. It was such a magical night it felt a bit strange to sing “life is an absurd wound”, said Rivero in “Una luz de almacen”. 

“La ultima curda” was recorded for the first time in 1956 by Anibal Troilo with Edmundo Rivero for the label TK. It became a classic of Troilo’s repertoire; he recorded another version with Goyeneche in 1963, followed by an in instrumental version in 1969. Both Roberto Goyeneche and Edmundo Rivero kept the song in their repertoire as well and recorded it many times over.

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

[2] Adet, Manuel. La ultima curda. El Litoral. Online.  http://www.ellitoral.com/index.php/diarios/2013/03/09/escenariosysociedad/SOCI-03.html

[2] Riveo, Edmundo. Una luz de almacen. Buenos Aire: Emecé editores, 1982. Print.

Organito de la tarde (1923)

Organito de la tarde” is a tango composed by Catúlo Castillo in 1923 with the lyrics of his father Jose González Castillo.

In 1924 it was presented in the first contest organized by Max Glucksmann at the cine-teatro Gran Splendid.  At that moment only the music was eligible for the contest. Each piece was performed by Roberto Firpo and voted by the public in various eliminatory rounds. [2] Apparently this public contest was not particularly objective as there is evidence that Canaro, Lomuto and Gonzalez Castillo were competing to buy entries in order to influence the vote. [1] In anycase Catúlo Castillo won the third place with Organito de la tarde” after “Sentimiento gaucho” by Francisco Canaro and Rafael Canaro and “Pa’ que te acordes” by Francisco Lomuto.

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

Organito de la tarde” is only one of many tango celebrating the portable instrument which “filled the neighborhood with musical notes”, allowing tango to enter every household through the windows 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.

The organito became obsolete in the 1920’s as recording technologies evolved and became increasingly accessible.

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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.

Don Juan (1898)

Don Juan is one of the oldest classics of the tango repertoire. There are no primary sources on the circumstances in which it was created but it is generally admitted that it was composed in 1898 by 13 years old violonist Ernesto Ponzio. According to another recount by Azdrúbal Noble it was the result of an improvisation by the same musician  at Lo de Mamita in 1900.

According to guitarist Eusebio Aspiazu, who used to perform with Ponzio at Lo de Hansen, “Don Juan” was originally entiteled El Panzudo” (the fat guy) in honour of a fat club owner. It was later dedicated to a man named Juan Cabello who was a regular at Lo de Hansen. This is the same Don Juan which appears years later in the lyrics of Ricardo Podestá:

Me llaman Don Juan Cabello,  anóteselo en el cuello, y ahí va, y ahí va, asi me quieren ver.

El cafe de Hansen, also known as cafe Tarana, was a restaurant where people used to gather at night to listen to tango musicians such as Angel Villoldo and Ernesto Ponzio in the early years of tango. This is where “Don Juan” became a hit at the end of the 19th century.

Another interesting fact about “Don Juan” is that it was composed in two parts, a structure which was unusual at the time but became a norm later in the 1920’s. It was inspired by an anonymous tango “¡Que polvo con tango viento!” (1890). [4]

Don Juan was recorded for the first time in 1910 by the orquesta tipica criolla  of Vicente Greco. Together with “Rosendo” it was one the first tangos to be recorded by an orquesta típica. Other tangos had been recorded before by solo player or other band but never by an orquestra dedicated to tango. It was recorded again in 1911 Alfredo Gobbi with lyrics of his own under the title of “Mozos guapos”: [3]

Al compas de una marchita, muy marcada y compadrona, a casa de Ña Ramona, me fui un ratito a bailar

Countless recording of Don Juan were made up to this day, mostly in instrumental versions. The  Orquesta típica Victor recorded a version with the lyrics of Ricardo Podestá and the voice of Alberto Gomez with the in 1932. A few other recordings where made with lyrics by solo artists such as Charlo and  Sophía Bozán. [2] Alfredo de Angelis recorded one version with estribillo of unknown author. [1]

Francisco Canaro, Juan D’Arienzo, Carlos Di Sarli and Anibal Troilo all recorded “Don Juan” more then once, leaving many different versons from the 1920´s to the 1960´s. Astor Piazzolla recorded his own version of “Don Juan” with his Quinteto in 1961.

Ernesto Ponzio left no recording of his famous tango but can be seen performing Don Juan with the Orquesta de la Guardia Vieja in the 1933 argentine sound film “Tango”π

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

[2] Selles, Roberto. Historia del tango “Don Juan”. Todotango. Online http://www.todotango.com/historias/cronica/215/Don-Juan-Historia-del-tango-Don-Juan/

[3] Alfredo Gobbi, Don Juan (Mozos Guapos), Disco original de 78 rmp. Youtube, Online.  Alfredo Gobbi – Don Juan (Mozos guapos) – Tango – Disco original de 78 rpm

[4] Selles, Roberto. “El tango y sus dos primeras decadas (1880- 1900)” in La historia del tango: Primera epoca. Buenos Aires: Corregidor. 1977. Print.