Category Archives: Origins

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/

 

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