Category Archives: Guardia nueva

Rodolfo Biagi

Rodolfo Biagi was a pianist, composer and director of the golden age. He is particularly 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 also 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 the neighbourhood of San Telmo, in a humble family where he was the first musician, he had difficulty convincing his parents to buy him an instrument. However his conviction was so strong and he insisted so much that they agreed to buy him a violin.

While studying at the conservatory of La Prensa, Biagi discovered his preference for the piano. He began working as a pianist at the Cine Colon when he was 13 years old. This is where Juan Maglio discovered him and asked him to join his famous orquesta típica. Together they performed at the Cafe Nacional for two years before they moved on to Bar Dominguez on Avenida Corrientes. Then 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 for a more engaged public so he went back to the Pigall and Casanova with the orchestra of Juan Canaro.

In 1935, Biagi joined the orchestra of Juan d’Arienzo who was performing at the cabaret ChanteclerTogether they worked for 4 years and began forging their own unique styles until Biagi went on to form his own orchestra in 1939 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 orquestas tipicas.

Biagi made his debut as a director at the cabaret Marabu and Radio Belgrano where he was remained for 20 years and received his surname of Mano BrujasSingers he worked with at the beginning of his career as a director are Teofilo Ibanez and Andres Falgas. In the 40s he worked with Jorge Ortiz, Alberto Lago, Alberto Amor, Carlos Acuna and Carlos Saavedra. Finally, in the 1950’s and 60’s, he worked with Carlos Heredia, Carlos Almagro and Hugo Duval. He appeared in the show Glostora tango club of Radio el Mundo and became the star of the television program 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. He can be seen performing 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/

Estribillista

The estribillista is the singer of the orchesta típica of the 1920’s and 1930’s. It must be distinguished from the cantor de orquesta (orchestra singer) of the golden age and solo tango singers.

The purpose of the estribillista is to perfom the estribillo (refrain) in such a way that the orchestra and the music remains at the center of attention. In the early 1920,s, singing was reserved to soloists such as Carlos Gardel and Ignacio Corsini. These singers used to perform with guitars or small band which would accommodate their voice and were not concerned with delivering a steady beat for dancing. Orquestas típicas were performing instrumental pieces only.

Francisco Canaro was the first director to incorporate a singer to his orchestra. In  invited Roberto Diaz to perform the estribillo with his orquestra. In his memoirs he says he felt like something was missing before that and soon he experimented with duos as well.

The challenges to integrate a singer to an orchestra were many at that time as there were no microphones to amplifying the voice of the singer which had to be powerful enough to accompany powerful instruments in noisy public spaces, cafes and nightclubs. Cone were used with were not estetically . Also it did not occurre to any director to slow down their pace or do major efforts to accomodate the poetry and voice of the singer until Anibal Troilo began working with Francisco FIorentino and appeared the orchestra singer in 1937. Besides the contribution of the estribillista was rarely credited. Singers were not considered full members of the orchestra and names often did not appear or recordings.

However the estribillista became popular and by the end of the 1920’s, well known soloists such as Charlo began performing with orchestras. Juan Carlos Thorry and Ernesto Famá worked with Osvaldo Fresedo, Félix Gutiérrez with Julio de Caro, Dante with D;arienzo, Teófilo Ibáñez with Firpo and Santiago Devin with Carlos Di Sarli.

The presence, status and recognition of the estribillistas continued to improve as electric technologies allowed for better performances. In the 30;s all orchestra were working with singers, some of which were associated with a particular one like Roberto Ray to Fresedo and others like Luis Diaz and Francisco Fiorentino worked with many.

But woulnt be fully integrated in the orchestra and music with full poetry until the end of the 1937 with Troilo and Fiorentino inventing the Cator de orquesta.

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García Blaya, Ricardo. El cantor del Tango: su evoluci’on en el tiempo – El estribillista.  Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/historias/cronica/69/El-Cantor-del-Tango:-Su-evolucion-en-el-tiempo-El-estribillista/

Francisco Fiorentino

Francisco Fiorentino was tango musician, singer and director of the guardia nueva. He is famous for his work as a singer with the orchestra of Anibal Troilo and regarded as the first cantor de orquestra, the tipical singer of the golden age of tango.

Born in San Telmo in 1905 to a family of Italian immigrants, Francisco Fiorentino studied music at the conservatory of Minotto Di Cicco, former bandoneonista in the orchestra of Francisco Canaro. His older brother Vicente was also a musician and together, in their youth, they played in the cafes and theaters of Buenos Aires for a living.

Francisco Fiorentino was a talented musician and in 1924 he joined the orchestras of Francisco Canaro. These were the years when Canaro first incorporated singers into his orchestra and Fiorentino wanted to sing but Canaro did not think much of him as an estribillista at that time and Fiorentino went on working with other orchestras both as a bandoneonsita and estribillista in many ochestras including those of Juan Carlos Cobián, Juan D’Arienzo, Angel d’Agostino, Pedro Maffia and La típica Victor.

In the 1930’s Fiorentino he also worked as a solist and performed with Los Poetas del Tango.

Francisco Fiorentino may not have been the very first singer to perform with an orchestra. Other signers who worked with orchestras in those early year are Charlo and Roberto Díaz. However he was first to record a full song, “Serenata de amor” with the orchestra of Roberto Zerrillo, and more importantly he was first to fully integrate an ochestra tipica as a singer.

Fiorentino made his debut with Anibal Troilo on July 1st 1937. Together Troilo and Fiorentino recorded 62 tracks including “Yo soy el tango”, “Tinta roja”, “Fueye”, “Barrio de tango”, “Los mareados”, “Gricel” Garua, y “El bulín de la calle Ayacucho” and gave a second life to tango poetry and singing which was in need for new inspiration following the death of Carlos Gardel.

According to Blaya [2] Francisco Fiorentino was not technically a great singer. His voice and diction had certain limitations but he was good at conveying the emotion.

In 1944, Francisco Fiorentino leaves the ochestra of Troilo. He works with Orlando Goñi for a while and forms his own orchestra with Astor Piazzolla. In 1948 he joined the ochestra of José Basso. He made many good recordings including 22 with Astor Piazzolla but never reached the same had  with Troilo.

In the 1950,s he began traveling to Uruguay and interior of Argentina to perform. He died in a car accident in 1955 near Mendoza.

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

[2] Adet, Manuel. El Tano Francisco Fiorentino. El Litoral. Online. http://www.ellitoral.com/index.php/diarios/2011/11/05/escenariosysociedad/SOCI-04.html

[3] García Blaya ,Ricardo. Francisco Fiorentino. Todotango. Online.  http://www.todotango.com/creadores/biografia/149/Francisco-Fiorentino/

Enrique Cadícamo

Enrique Cadícamo was a writer, poet, playwright and prolific tango lyricist of the guardia nueva. He is the author of 5 plays and 6 books including “El desconocido Juan Carlos Cobián” and “La historia del tango en Paris“. He is also the author of more then 400 tangos, many of which are great classics such as “Los mareados”, “Tres esquinas”, “Madame Yvonne” and “Nostalgias”.

Enrique Cadícamo was born in General Rodríguez in the Province of Buenos Aires in 1900. When he was 6 years old his family moved to the city and he spent his youth in the neighborhood of Flores. His first job as a young man required that he spend long hours traveling to Palermo and this is how he began reading classics such as Victor Hugo and Ruben Darío. Later he worked for the archives of the Consejo national de educación and began writing poetry and plays which were presented in the theatres of Flores.

From theatre to tango was only a short step in those days as plays were often written to showcase new tango songs in the style of “Mi noche triste”. In 1924, Enrique Cadícamo wrote his first tango, “Pompas de jabón” which was recorded by Carlos Gardel in 1925. In 1929, he won first place in the 6th contest organized by Max Gluksmann with his tango “De todo te olvidas” and he began working with Juan Carlos Cobián among other composers. By the time Carlos Gardel left Argentina in 1933, he had recorded 23 of Cadícamo’s compositions, many of which were great hits.

One remarkable characteristic of Enrique Cadícamo as a poet was his ability to work with many different themes. For example, “Tres esquinas” is a masterful piece about life in the neigborhood in the line of Evaristo Carriego and Homero Manzi. “Al mundo le falta un tornillo” is an existentialist and socially engaged tango which became a precursor to “Cambalache” by Enrique Discepolo. On the romantic front, he is the author of “Los mareados” which became one of the most famous tango songs of all times.

Other well known tangos by Enrique Cadícamo include “Che papusa.. oi”, “Anclao en Paris”, “Niebla del Riachuelo”, “Garúa”, “La casita de mis viejos”, “Palais de glace”, “Tengo mil novias”, “Tres amigos”, “Muñeca brava”, “Compadrón” andPa que bailan los muchachos”.

Enrique Cadícamo remained professionally active until his death in 1999. He was 99 year-old. He received many prices in his lifetime including a Premio Konex in 1885. He was declared Ciudadano illuste de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires in  1987 and Personalidad Emerita de la Cultura Argentina in 1996. [1] In 2011 the pasaje Carabelas was renamed Paseo Enrique Cadícamo in his honour. [2]

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[1] Sorias, Gabriel. (2002) Los Capos del tango: Enrique Cadícamo. Online.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvnBkWGe4Uc

[3]  “Cadicamo, en tiempo de homenaje”. In La Nacion, December 17, 2000. Online. http://www.lanacion.com.ar/45314-cadicamo-en-tiempo-de-homenaje

 

Catúlo Castillo

Catúlo Castillo was a pianist, composer, director and poet of the guardia nueva. Son of  Jose Gonzalez Castillo, in his youth he distinguished himself a musician and composer. After the death of his friend Homero Manzi in the 1950’s, he revealed himself as the last great poet of the golden age.

Ovidio Catúlo Gonzalez Castillo was born in Buenos Aires in 1906. He grew up in Chile where his father José Gonzalez Castillo exiled himself until 1913 because of his political ideas.

Back in Buenos Aires, the family moved to Boedo where Catúlo began learning the violin with Juan Cianciarullo. By age 17 he was an accomplished musician and boxer. He won the national championship of lightweight in Argentina and almost reached the Olympic games of 1924. That same year he won the third place in a contest organized by Max Glucksmann with his tango Organito de la tarde.

During the 1920’s, Catúlo Castillo definitely turned to tango as he traveled Europe with his father and later with his own orchestra. As a composer he produced many tangos including Organito de la tarde”“Silbando”, “El Aguacero”, “Papel picado” and “El circo se va” with the lyrics of his father Jose Gonzalez Catillo, “La violeta” (1930) with Nicolás Olivari and “Viejo ciego” (1926) with his friends Sebastian Piana and Homero Manzi. He is the author of both music and lyrics of “Caminito del taller” (way to the shop), a politically engaged tango which was recorded by Carlos Gardel in 1925.

In the 1930’s and 40’s Catúlo Castillo became increasingly engaged with poetry. With his friend Sebastian Piana and other composers he wrote remarkable pieces such as “Tinta roja” and “Caseron de tejas” (1941). In 1945 he began working with Anibal Troilo with whom he produced his best work as a poet in the 1950’s.

The 1950’s were critical years for tango as rock and roll was taking over in popularity with the youth. The great poets of the golden age were gone or had diminished their activities and it became increasingly difficult for tango orchestras to get work. Feeling perhaps that tango was coming to an end and building on the work of every other authors who came before him from Evaristo Carriego to Enrique Discepolo, Catúlo Castillo took tango poetry to it’s last apogee with titles such as “El ultimo café” and “La ultima curda” where the bandoneon cries in to the lonely man’s imagination “life is an absurd wound”.

Other tangos of that period by Catúlo Castillo include “Domani”, “La calesita”, “El cafe de los Angelitos” and “El patio de la Morocha”.

Besides his activities as a lyricist, Catúlo Castillo had an active professional life. In the 1950’s he became President of the SAIDAC and president of the Comisión Nacional de Cultura . He was declared Ciudadano Illustre of the City of Buenos Aires in 1974 and died the following year at age 69.

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

[2] Baccarelli, Nicolás Sosa. Catúlo Castillo o el existencialismo en la poesia del tango. Correveidile. Online. http://www.correveidile.com.ar/2014/11/12/catulo-castillo-o-el-existencialismo-en-la-poesia-del-tango/

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

Juan Andrés Caruso

Juan Andrés Caruso was a journalist, playwright and prolific tango lyricist of the 1920’s. He wrote his first tango “Cara sucia” for his friend Francisco Canaro in 1918. In the 1920’s he became one of the favourite lyricists of Carlos Gardel who recorded 38 his tangos. In 1930 he wrote the lyrics of one of the great classics of the tango repertoire, “Alma de Bohemio” by Roberto Firpo.

Caruso was born in La Plata in the Province of Buenos Aires in 1890. Having lost his parents at a young age he came to Buenos Aires where he worked as a claque in the theaters of avenida Corrientes between other jobs. Soon after, following some incident involving a theft, he moved to the city of Bahia Blanca where he began working in a print shop. This is where he began working a journalist for a local newspaper, Hoja del Pueblo.

Back in Buenos Aires in 1910, Caruso moved to the neighbourhood of San Cristobal where he made friends with Francisco Canaro and other musicians of the guardia vieja including  Vicente Greco, Genaro Exposito and Samuel Castriota. [2] This was before Pascual Contursi and the emergence of the tango canción or tango song so Caruso didn’t write any tango yet but estilos, a popular style of song we would now refer to as folclore. [3]

When the new tango poetry emerged in 1917 with the success of Mi noche triste“, Caruso was one of the first song writers to contribute with “Cara sucia” (1918), turning an old pornographic tango by Casimiro Alcorta into a decent song. Other compositions by Caruso include No me escribas, El taita ladrón, Nobleza de arrabal, La ultima copa,  Sentimiento gaucho and Alma de bohemio.  

Caruso wrote over 30 plays and sainetes over the years, the first of which was “Nobleza de arrabal” (1919) also with Francisco Canaro. He was director of the magazine El Teatro Nacional.

Juan Andrés Caruso died in Buenos Aires in 1931. He was 41-years-old.

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[1] Gobello, Jose. Mujeres y hombres que hicieron el Tango. Buenos Aires: Libertador, 2008.

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

[3] Pinson, Nestor. Juan Andres Caruso. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/creadores/biografia/647/Juan-Andres-Caruso/

 

Mano a mano (1923)

“Mano a mano” is one of the most famous tangos of Carlos Gardel‘s repertoire. It was originally written by Celedonio Flores with the music of Gardel and Jose Razzano. It was recorded for the first time in 1923.

Like many other tangos of the early 1920’s, “Mano a mano” is a sentimental song about a man who lost a woman. It is based on the personal story of a young singer named Nunciatta who told Celedonio Flores about his last love affair before he died of tuberculosis. Celedonio was moved and turned Nuciatta’s story into a poem which Carlos turned into a tango in the style of  Mi noche triste.

Carlos Gardel was not yet fully associated with tango at the time but “Mano a mano” became one of the highlights of his repertoire. The 1923 acoustic recording by Gardel was followed by another one in 1928 with microphone and electrical technologies.

“Mano a mano” was featured in the series of short films by Carlos Gardel in 1930, turning it one of the first video clips ever produced. [3] Other artists who recorded “Mano a mano” in the 1930’s include Charlo (1934), Francisco Canaro with Roberto Maida (1938) and Hugo del Carril (1939).

Following the prohibition of lunfardo in 1943, Celedonio Flores wrote an alternative version of “Mano a mano” whitout the controversial lunfardo terms. “Rechiflado en mi tristeza” was replaced by “Te recuerdo en mi tristeza” and so on. [2] This new version entitled “Con gomina” was hardly ever used by anyone but it was recorded by Francisco Lomuto with Alberto Rivera in 1944.

Since the prohibition was lifted in the 1950’s, “Mano a mano” has been interpreted by various prominent signers including Ranko Fujisawa (1955), Edmundo Rivero (1962), Julio Sosa (1961) and Roberto Goyeneche (1978). Recent recordings include pop, rock and ranchera versions by Julio Iglesias (1996), Andres Calamaro (2006) and Vicente Fernandez (2014).

Two alternative lyrics have been published to this day, one by Humberto Correa where the woman exposes her point of view and reveals the protagonist of “Mano a mano” was abandoned in the first place. The second is by Chilean Pepe Aguirre who depicts the protagonist as a man who neglected his  woman and got only what he deserved. [1] π

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

[2] Taboada, Pablo. La otra letra de Mano a mano. Investigación tango, 2013. Online http://www.investigaciontango.com/inicio/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=181:mano-a-mano-y-la-censura-lunfarda&catid=41:lunfardo&Itemid=61

[3] Rasore, Alberto. Gardel en los cortometrajes de 1930. Buenos Aires Antiguo, 2006. Online. http://www.buenosairesantiguo.com.ar/carlosgardel22.html