Category Archives: Poets

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]

_____

[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.

___

[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.

Jose Gonzalez Castillo

Jose Gonzalez Castillo was a journalist, playwright and lyricist of the early years of the guardia nueva. He is the author of numerous sainetes including “Los dientes del Perro” which showcased the first tango canción, Mi noche triste,”  with the orchestra of Roberto Firpo in 1918.

Gonzalez Castillo was born in 1885 in the city of Rosario. Having lost his parents at a young age, he was raised by a priest in the Province of Salta and trained to become a priest himself.  However he left the church as a young man and with his education and writing skills, soon he became a journalist for the newspaper “La Republica” in Rosario.

Later on in Buenos Aires Gonzalez Castillo was a successful playwright. Shortly after the success of “Mi noche triste” he began writing his own tango songs. The first one of those, “Que has hecho de mi cariño,” was composed for a play entitled “Don Agenor Saladillo” and presented to the public in 1918 with the music or Juan Maglio. Other tangos by him include “Sobre el pucho”, “Organito de la tarde”, “Griseta”, “A Montmartre”, “Bandoneon”, “El porteño” and “Por el camino”.

Besides his activities as a playwright and lyricist, it is interesting to note that Gonzalez Casillo was among the first to notice Carlos Gardel and to attract attention on the duo Gardel-Razzano.[2] He worked on various films including the silent movie “Nobleza gauchesca”  (1915)  and “La ley que olvidaron” (1937). He is the father of Catúlo Castillo with whom he collaborated on many tangos including “Organito de la tarde”, “Silbando”, “El Aguacero”, “Papel picado” and “El circo se va”.

González Castillo died in Buenos Aires in 1937. π

__

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

[2] Del Greco, Orlando. Gardel y Jose Gonzalez Castillo. Todotango. Online.  http://www.todotango.com/creadores/ficha/296/Jose-Gonzalez-Castillo

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.

____

[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/

 

Celedonio Flores

Celedonio Flores was a prolific tango lyricist of the 1920’s. Along with Pascual Contursi, he contributed to the creation of a repertoire of tango canción and to opene the way to the renovation of tango. He is the author of “Mano a mano” and many other classics which were recorded by Carlos Gardel.

Celedonio Esteban Flores was born in Buenos Aires in 1896. He grew up in the center of the city near Lavalle and Tucuman; when he was 14 years-old his family moved to the neighborhood of Villa Crespo. This is where, like Evaristo Carriego, he began writing poetry about the ordinary facts of life in the neighborhood and in the city.

As a young man and respectful admirer of famous poets such as Rúben Dario and Amado Nervo, Celedonio never dreamed of becoming a writer himself. In his youth he explored many paths, studying business and then the arts and music (violin). He also competed as a lightweight boxer at the national level before he found his path.

His breakthrough came in 1920 when the newspaper Ultima hora opened a poetry contest. In a moment of wild optimism, Celedonio Flores wrote “Por la Pinta”, hoping perhaps he could win 5 pesos and have his poem published in the newspaper. Not only did he win the contest, but his work attracted the attention of Carlos Gardel who turned his poem into a tango and recorded it in 1921 under the title of Margot”.

This unexpected success was followed shortly by another one as “Mano a mano became one of the greatest hits of Carlos Gardel in 1923.

Other well-known titles by El negro Cele include “Corrientes” y “Esmeralda”, “La mariposa”, “El bulín de la calle Ayacucho”, “Viejo smoking”, “Por qué canto así”, “Malevito”, “Canchero”, “Pan”, “Muchacho” and “La musa mistonga”. Many of those poems were musicalized and recorded by Carlos Gardel and other prominent artists including Pedro Maffia, Edgado Donato, Ignacio Corsini, Edmundo Rivero and Julio Sosa.

Celedonio Flores published two compilations entitled “Chapaleando barro” and “Cuando pasa el organito”. His poetry is characterized by the sentimentalism of the 1920’s and a clever and abundant use of lunfardo, the slang or street language which clearly highlights the popular root of tango.

When the prohibition of lunfardo was instituted by the military dictatorship of 1943, the work of Celedonio Flores could no longer be broadcasted, recorded, printed or performed in public. Though he wrote new lyrics for his popular tango “Mano a mano“, the new version in proper language was hardly ever used or recorded and Celedonio Flores was deeply affected. [2]

When censureship was eliminated 10 years later, his songs were once again recorded and performed by various artists; they remain to this day among the great classics of the tango repertoire.

Celedonio Flores died  in 1947 at age 51, six years before the prohibition was lifted. π

_____

[1] Rossler, Osvaldo. Celedonio Flores. La historia del tango: Los poetas (I). Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1981.  Print.

[2] Barsky, Julián. El tango y las instituciones: De olvidos, censuras y reivindicaciones. Buenos Aires: Teseo, 2016. Online

Pascual Contursi

Pascual Contursi was a guitarist, singer, playwright and innovative song writer of the early guardia nueva. He is known as the author of the first tango canción or tango song, Mi noche triste“, recorded by Carlos Gardel in 1917.

Contursi was born in Chivilcoy, province of Buenos Aires, in 1888. He grew up in the neighbourhood of San Cristobal and began singing and writing poetry in his youth. In 1914 he traveled to Montevideo where he began writing lyrics for popular tangos and performing them in public to earn a living.

Before Contursi, tango lyrics had been composed by other performers including Ángel Villodo and Alfredo Gobbi, but the lyrics of the guardia vieja tended to be more rudimentary and often reflected the rough reality of life in the streets and nightclubs of early century Buenos Aires. With Pascual Contursi, tango lyrics began to develop into decent popular songs with deeper characters and more complex story lines.

One day in Montevideo, Contursi presented his best tango, Mi noche triste,” to a popular cantor de estilos or singer of what we would call today folk songs. Carlos Gardel did not have any tango in his repertoire at that time, but he liked this particular one and he decided to record it in 1917.

That same year, Mi noche triste became a huge success in Buenos Aires as a part of a theatrical piece, a sainete entitled “Los Dientes del perro”. The success of Contursi’s tango was such that other authors immediately began to explore the genre and a new style of tango poetry quickly emerged.

Back in Buenos Aires, Contursi continued writing sainetes and composing tangos lyrics. He is the author of over 40 tango including “Champagne tango”, “Ivette”, “Flor de fango”, “El motivo”, “Ventanita de arrabal”, “De vuelta al bulin”, “La biblioteca” and “Si supieras”,  many of which were recorded by Carlos Gardel.

Contursi was a humble man and his poetry was written in a simple style. Most of his work revolves around a certain number of recurrent themes and characters which became archetypes of tango poetry for years to come.

Contursi traveled to Europe in the 1920s. He lived in France and Spain where he enjoyed his success until his mental condition deteriorated due to an untreated case of syphilis. He died in Buenos Aires in 1932 at age 44.  π

___

[1] Pelletieri, Osvaldo. Siempre Contursi. La historia del tango: Los poetas (I). Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1981.  Print.

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

[3] Astarita, Gaspar. Pascual Contursi, vida y obra. La campana, 1981. Print.

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

___

[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