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/

 

Derecho viejo (1916)

“Derecho viejo” is a 1916 tango composed by bandoneonista Eduardo Arolas. The title, as it was often the case in those days when copyrights did not exist, was chosen in honor of those to whom the piece was dedicated, in this case a group of law students.

According to an interview with musicologist Rafael Tuegols, published in the magazine Cantando in 1948, “Derecho viejo” was first performed at the cafe La Morocha where Arolas used to play for a crowd of workers from the brick kiln of the Parque Centenario.

Like many other compositions by Eduardo Arolas, “Derecho viejo” is structured in a way which allows for rich arrangements. It has been recorded countless times by various orchestras and solo artists from Julio de Caro and Francisco Canaro, to Juan d’Arienzo, Francini-Pointier, Nelly Omar, Astor Piazzolla and many others including contemporary orchestras. It has become one of  the best known pieces of the repertoire along with “La Cumparsita” and “El Choclo” and is commonly featured in tango shows. There unfortunately are no  recordings of it by Eduardo Arolas.

Though “Derecho viejo” is almost exclusively known as an instrumental theme, it is good to know that two sets of lyrics were written for it many years after its creation. The first one was written by Andrés Baldesari and recorded by the Orquesta Típica Victor with estribillo by Teófil Ibáñez in 1934.

Usted sabrá que cuando el amor comienza a taconear sentimientos en el pecho, la dulce tentación, sentimos sed de amar, de amar de corazón!

Y yo tambien amé con gran passión, amé con gran delirio, y coseché martirios, porque un padecer me brindó esa mujer que fue mi perdición!

The second one was written by Gabriel Clausi shortly before the 50th anniversary of Eduardo Arolas’s death and was officially registered in order to extend the copyright on “Derecho viejo” by the composer’s successors. This version was recorded by Nelly Omar accompanied by guitars in 1979.

Tango de mi ciudad, malevo y sensual, cayengue y triston, color de arrabal. Señor de salon, tienes emoción de noche porteña.

“Derecho viejo” is the title of a 1951 movie by Manuel Romero, inspired by the life of Eduardo Arolas.

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

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

 

Eduardo Arolas

Eduardo Arolas, also known as El tigre del bandoneon, was an influential bandoneon player, composer and director of the early days of the guardia vieja. He is the author of over 100 tangos including classics such as “Derecho viejo”, “La cachila”, “Retintin” and “Comme il faut”. With his vanguardist compositions and quality of interpretation, he contributed largely to define tango in its early stage. Many distinguished musicians of the guardia vieja made their debuts in his orchestra including Juan Carlos Cobian, Julio de Caro and Luis Bernstein.

Lorenzo Arola was born in Buenos Aires in 1892. He grew up in the neighbourhood of Barracas where his father owned a store. With his older brother he learned to play the guitar when he was 8 years old and began playing in the cafes of la Boca. This is how he met Ricardo Gonzalez who first thought him to play the bandoneon. Together they performed in duo for a while until Eduardo went his own way.

In 1911, Eduardo Arolas was 19 years old and fully dedicated to music. He studied with Jose Bombig and opened a café called “Una noche de garufa” where he performed on his own. This is where he composed his first tango, which bears the same name as the cafe.

Like many tango musicians of the first generation, Eduardo Arolas didn’t know how to read or write music. However he was a brilliant, prolific and innovative composer. He was also known for his style of interpretation and phrasing, which is more fluid then other orchestras of that time and sets new standards for tango musicians.

With his talent as a composer and interpreter, Eduardo Arolas quickly became popular around the city. With Leopoldo Thompson (guitarra) and Ernesto Ponzio (violin), he began performing at Café La Turca and traveled to Montevideo. Back in Buenos Aires, he formed another trio with Agustín Bardi (piano) and Tito Roccatagliatta (violin) and later on a cuarteto with flute. He was invited to perform at the prestigious cabaret Armenonville with Roberto Firpo in 1913 and then began forming his own orchestra.

With his orquestra típica, Eduardo Arolas continued performing in prestigious venues and cabarets such as El Estribo, L’Abbaye and Montmartre. He performed at Café Botafogo and Royal Pigall in In 1916 and Café Apolo in 1917. In those years he composed some of his most famous pieces and left recordings in which we can hear him play solo or with his orchestra.

During the last years of his life, Eduardo Arolas suffered from depression and alcoholism. He traveled extensively to Montevideo where he was a star at the carnavals of 1920 and to Paris where he performed at prestigious venues such as the Cabaret Parisien and Ermitage, contributing to the popularization of tango in the old world. He died in Paris in 1924 at 32 years old.

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

[2] García Blaya, Ricardo. Eduardo Arolas. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/creadores/biografia/23/Eduardo-Arolas/

 

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/

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/

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