Archive for January 2nd, 2011

1889, January 2 – BIRTH OF TITO SCHIPA

Singer, Composer (Capricorn) – in his audacious, bohemian lifestyle, he even risked his life crossing paths with opera lover and gangster Al Capone, in Chicago where Tito would sing opera for fifteen years…Tito Schipo, was a reckless spender of huge sums of money and a shameless womanizer; he was also one of the finest tenors in history…along the way he even composed several popular tangos…during this time, Tito was a huge celebrity and one of the highest-paid artists in the world….living lavishly in a villa in Santa Monica and an estate in Beverly Hills, he frequented parties with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin…after his debut at the Met in 1932, the New York Telegraph wrote of him “young and boyishly ardent…the surprise and joy of the performance” …..Everyone loved Schipa; he was graceful and elegant in his singing, personally charming, and good-looking; adding to his mystique was his fascination with animals…Tito often traveled with a menagerie of pets; reportedly he once arrived in Chicago with a live snake in his pocket as a mascot.


He was born in the town of Lecce in Southern Italy to a poor family…singing in the school choir the director detected something special in young Tito and singled him out for private instruction…he came to the attention of the bishop of Lecce who paid for his singing lessons and eventually sent him to Milano to perfect his voice…at the age of 21 he debuted in Vercelli, Piemonte Italy, singing “La Traviata”; it was a disaster but he revealed something and doors slowly began opening for him…during World War II he was close to the Mussolini and even sang in Nazi Germany which caused him some problems later…after the war he retired to teach in Budapest and toured the Soviet Union; now he was suspected of being a communist and his phone was tapped; he was blackballed at La Scala…eventually he returned to New York where to his surprise he was warmly welcomed and ended his life and career there…among his tango compositions are “El Coqueton”, “El Gaucho”, “Esperanzas”, “Ojos Lindos y Mentirosos”, “El Pampero”, “Surriento”



Leader, Violinist (Capricorn) – almost from the moment he was born, his father noticed his sensitive, contemplative nature and he was especially doting on young Fernando…when he noticed his keen musical interest he bought him a violin; Fernando was only five years old…still his dream was that one day Fernando would become a doctor…years later when Fernando informed him that he would devote his life to music, he was more than a little disappointed and concerned for his son’s future; still he said nothing and vowed support for his beloved son…little did he suspect that one day that five-year old boy, not much bigger than the violin he held in his hand, would grow up to be a respected musician all over the world earning awards and recognitions including a Grammy and a seven star rating from the New York Times for his tenure with Gary Burton performing in jazz festivals all over the world….


A key point in his career occurred when the legendary Astor Piazzolla, looking for a violinist for his Quinteto Nuevo Tango, chose Fernando from among innumerable candidates…he would tour and record with Piazzolla for 10 years traveling all over the world…he was one of Astor’s favorite musicians honoring him with a personal dedication in his composition “Escualo”…Fernando, born in the town of Ramos Mejia in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, was to say years later about his mentor “to play with Piazzolla for a musician is the maximum experience possibile..playing with piazzolla I was truly happy”...from a very young age Fernando’s devotion to music was total, resulting at the age of 17, in a seat with the prestigious LRA Juvenile Symphonic Orchestra; shortly thereafter, he was then accepted for the first violins of the Buenos Aires Symphonic Orchestra…he has played with some of the most notables in tango including Horacio Salgan, Miguel Calò, Anibal Troilo….the renown composer Gabriel Senanes  wrote for Fernando “Concierto En Canto Negroriano” for violin and orchestra and recorded it with Fernando as guest artist.