Category Archives: Pianists

Manuel O. Campoamor

Manuel O. Campoamor was a pianist and composer of the early days of tango. In his youth, he performed in private parties and houses as well as in casas de baile were tango was becoming popular at the end of the 19th century. He was one of the first artists to record in Argentina both as a soloist and as accompaniment of other pioneers including Linda Thelma, Gabino Ezeiza, Higinio Cazón and Ángel Villoldo.

Manuel Oscar Campoamor was born in Montevideo in 1877. He was only 7 years old when his family moved to Buenos Aires. There he learned to play piano on his own while working as a telegraphist. In 1897 he was hired at the luxurious department store of Gath y Chaves where he remained for 25 years, working his way from the accounting department to a management position.

While Campoamor relied on these jobs all his life for to make a living, he also began performing in public as a pianist. He made his debut at la Casa Suisa when he was 17 years old [2] and quickly made a name for himself, performing in private parties and houses where tango was not yet admitted. Then he began performing in casas de baile such as la Casa de Maria la Vasca and Lo de Hansen. He composed his first tango “Sargento Cabral” in 1899, followed by “El séptimo cielo” (1900), “La c…ara de la l…una” (1901), “La metralla” (1902), “La franela” (1903) and “Mi capitan” (1905).

The tangos of Campoamor are the fast paced, lighthearted and often naughty tanguitos of the 1890’s. These are among the very first compositions which can be fully distinguished from other musical genres that came into the creation of argentine tango such as the tango andaluz and the milonga.

By the time tango was beginning to gain popularity in Buenos Aires around 1910, Campoamor already felt that his music was going out of fashion and significantly reduced his musical activity. He returned to tango in the early 1920’s, forming a cuarteto with Raimundo Petillo. The cuarteto turned into a sexteto and together they went on performing tango in their own old fashion manner as other musicians were already moving into the guardia nueva.

Manuel O. Campoamor died in died in 1941, never adhering to any of the various currents of renovation tango had been through during his lifetime. He did no express any resentment about the musical evolution of tango and simply said he did not identify with it. He is remembered as one of the great pioneers and proponent of the guardia vieja.

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[1] Selles, Roberto. El tango y sus dos primeras décadas (1880-1900). La historia del tango. Corregidor, 1977. Print.

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

[3] Silbido, Juan. Manuel Campoamor. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/creadores/biografia/507/Manuel-Campoamor/

 

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/