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Juan D’Arienzo

Juan d’Arienzo was a violonist, composer and influential director of the guardia nueva. Also known as El rey del compas, or king of rhythm, his style of interpretation is characterized by a fast and steady beat which appealed to the youth in the 1930’s and gave a new impulse to tango as a dance and popular musical genre in Buenos Aires after the death of Carlos Gardel in 1935.

Juan D’Arienzo was born in the neighborhood of Balvanera to a family of Italian immigrants in 1900. He began studying the violin at the Conservatorio Mascagni when he was 11-years-old and completed his education with professor Fassano at the institute Thiebaud Piazzini. With his friends, Angel d’Agostino (piano) and Carlos Bianchi (bandoneon), he formed his first trio and began performing tango and jazz.

It’s not until 1926 that Juan D’Arienzo finally dedicated himself exclusively to tango. For the next few years, he performed in movie theaters with the Orquesta típica Paramount and the sexteto Los Ases. He also began forming his own orchestra and made his first recordings with Electra and the voice of Carlos Dante.

When sound films entered movie theatres in the 1930’s, leaving many musicians out of a job, Juan d’Arienzo was hired to perform with his orchesta típica at the cabaret Chantecler. This is where he spent the best years of his career and became the orchestra director we remember today. There he began working with Rodolfo Biagi (piano) and defined the rhythmical and cheerful style of interpretation which brought tango dance and music back to life.

His success was sudden and intense. Juan D`Arienzo began recording with RCA Victor and appearing on Radio Mundo. Dance halls and tango orchestras began flourishing in every neighbourhood around the city. D’Arienzo began traveling to Montevideo and became a regular at Teatro Solis and Café Tupí Nambá. In 1937, he appeared for the first time in a movie, “Melodias porteñas”. This movie was followed by many others including “Tango” (1933), “Yo quiero ser bataclana” (1941), “El cantor del pueblo” (1948), “La voz de mi ciudad” (1953) and “Una ventana al éxito” (1966).

Though he said singers were responsible for killing tango, taking the focus away from the music and the beat, D’Arienzo worked with many distinguished singers and estribillistas throughout his career including Francisco Fiorentino, Alberto Echague, Hector Mauré and Armando Laborde, never compromising on the rhythm and speed of the orchestra. He is also the author of many milongas, a new energetic and urban genre, which differs from the milonga campera, that he contributes to impose in the 1930.

While new musical styles were flourishing during the golden age, Juan D’Arienzo went on performing and recording with the same fast paced, rhythmical style. Critics began saying he had become repetitive and failed to evolve. Because this idea has often been repeated out of it’s original context, it is important to remember that Juan D’Arienzo was one of the most innovative director of tango history and none of the renovation, which he was accused of not following, would have taken place without him. It is also important to emphasize that he remains a favourite among tango dancers throughout the golden age and to this day.

When it became very clear that tango dancing was not in style anymore in the 1960’s, Juan d’Arienzo finally made some changes to his music and began performing tango in a more melodic manner. He went on performing and recording until his death in 1976.

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

[2] Gobello, José. “Juan d’Arienzo” in Tango y Lunfardo. Chivilcoy, 1997. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/creadores/biografia/32/Juan-DArienzo/

[3] Jara, Fernanda. Hace 42 anos moría Juan D´Arienzo, El rey del compás. Infobae. Online. https://www.infobae.com/cultura/2018/01/14/hace-42-anos-moria-juan-darienzo-el-rey-del-compas/

 

Armenonville

The cabaret Armenonville was the first luxurious dancing-restaurant in Buenos Aires. It was located on Avenida Alvear, now Libertador, at the corner of Tagle and frequented by the high society of the 1910’s and 20’s.

The building itself was a two story chalet designed to resemble a hunting Pavillon of the same name located in Bois de Boulogne, France. It was surrounded by large green spaces and parks and it was particularly popular during the summer months when dinner was served on a large terrace in the garden and rotondas.

The food was of the very best quality at the cabaret Armenonville, just as everything else. Promotional posters announced the finest french cuisine, parking for automobiles and carriages, beautiful terraces, gardens and the finest entertainment.

Inside the house, the ground level was organized around a large dance floor and a stage surrounded tables, boxes and balconies. Tango was becoming fashionable in those years and the luxurious cabaret was inaugurated in 1911 by Vicente Greco and his orquesta típica. Other tango musicians who performed at the Armenonville in the early years include Roberto Firpo, Eduardo Arolas and Augustin Bardi.

The legendary cabaret was also an important step in the career of Carlos Gardel who was hired to perform with José Razanno in 1913 for 70 pesos per night, a sum for which Gardel said he wouldn’t mind washing the dishes as well. This is where the duo was first noticed by Pablo Podestá, a regular who led them to make their debut at the theater and travel to Montevideo where Gardel first discovered  “Mi noche triste”.

When El Armenonville was demolished around 1925, the owners Carlos Bonifacio Lanzavecchia and Manuel Loreiro took their business to a new location and the Armenonville became Les Ambassadeurs.

There is a tango by Juan Maglio entitled “Armenonville” (1912).

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

[2] “El Armenonville, un cabaret inspirador”. Clarin, october 8, 2012.  Online. https://www.clarin.com/ciudades/Armenonville-cabaret-inspirador_0_ryfGMJkhvXl.html

[3] “Carlos Gardel: Debut en Armenonville.” Hagase la musica. Online.  http://www.hlmtango.com/notas/carlos-gardel/debut-en-el-armenonville/

[4] Cabaré Armenonville. Arcón de Buenos Aires. Online. http://www.arcondebuenosaires.com.ar/conf_armenonville.htm

Cabaret

The cabaret is a type of night club, originally from Paris, where people go to entertain themselves for an evening, eat, drink alcoholic beverages and enjoy a show. In Buenos Aires the cabarets appeared in the early 1910’s and are closely associated to the the history of tango.

A typical Buenos Aires cabaret of the golden age of tango was essentially a luxurious restaurants with a dance floor surrounded by tables and a bar. These restaurant-dancing were mostly located in the center of the city along avenida Corrientes. Some were frequented by men only with alternadoras, coperas and papirusas, women who were in charge of keeping men entertained and consuming. Others were designed for couples.

In the 30’s and 40’s each cabaret featured a particular ochestra típica which was the main attraction of the house and determined the prestige of each cabaret. For exemple, Juan d’Arienzo was associated to the Chanteclerc, Anibal Troilo to the Tibidabo and  Lucio Demare to El Casanova. Though they were the main attraction of the house, tango orchestras shared the space with jazz orchestras and other performers. On Saturdays they would be away, performing in popular dance halls across the city.

Some of those luxurious Buenos Aires cabarets include the Armenonville, Chantecler, Royal Pigall, Marabú and Palais de glace. More humble cabarets, los del Bajo, were located near the port and the actual Centro cultural Kirtchner. The Ocean Dancing, which featured Miguel Caló and Oswaldo Pugliese, was located at Leandro N. Alem 286.  Nearby was the Montmartre, el Royal, el Derby and Cielo de California where guests were greated by a doorman dressed up like a cowboy. [2]

Most Buenos Aires cabarets were closed when the popularity of tango and live music in general declined in the 1950’s and 60’s. They are evoqued in many tangos which were targetted by the prohibition as the word “cabaret” was banned along with lunfardo terms and inappropriate terms identified by the military government.  [2]

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

[2] Palacio, Jorge. Los cabarets de los anos cuarenta. Todotango. Online.   http://www.todotango.com/historias/cronica/163/Los-cabarets-de-los-anos-cuarenta/

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/

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.