Archive for April, 2011

1993, April 30 – PREMIERE OF “ONNEN MAA”

The prodigal son Tenho returns to his boyhood village hoping to recapture sweet memories of his youth but no one knows that he is a tango dancer…however, the country life is being assaulted by changes from the big city and there is much resentment…Tenho to his dismay, is seen as the black sheep of the family and he becomes a laughing stock…he tries desperately to fit by trying to match the other men of the family in their strenuous chores but he doesn’t quite succeed and he gets criticized and even bullied…Tenho begins to teach some of the other young people how to dance the tango which the elders do not like… in time he manages to conquer the village beauty, the sensuous milkmaid Vira to the astonishment of the others…”Onnen Maa” (Happiness in March), directed and written by Markku Polenen, was well received by critics and public alike…it artfully blends comedy and nostalgia in just under an hour; it has won several awards in film festivals…Polenen’s films are usually set in the country side; the preservation of Finland’s country culture and values is somewhat of a personal crusade for him…

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Markku Polenen, born in Eno Finland, started out installing water pumps as a young man but he dreamed of making films…eventually, he attended Finland’s premiere film school and began working in television…he went on to become one of Finlands celebrated film directors earning numerous awards for his work…he bought the production company Suomen Filmeteollisuuss which he runs with the help of his wife Satu….perhaps his best film is “Dog Nail Clipper” which was released  in 2004 and  won the equivalent of Finland’s academy award in a number of categories….almost from the beginning Finland fell in love with tango; by the 1940s half of all popular published music was a tango especially in the habanera rhythm…perhaps no one did more to popularize tango in Finland than the legendary Olavi Virta…he was born to a musical family; both his father and grandfather were singers…Olavi was immensely popular but he would die destitute from complications of alcohol abuse at the age of fifty-seven years old

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1942, April 29 – BERON RECORDS, “AL COMPAS DEL CORAZON”

Miguel Calo had already reluctantly fired him; he told Raul Beron that the radio station just did not think his voice was adequate for their tango program…however, in the mean time, pianist Osmar Maderna suggested to Calo that Beron’s voice was the right one to record their new project, the tango, “Al Compas Del Corazon”…it was a phenomenal hit and launched a storybook career for twenty-two year Raul Beron who in time, many would rate as the best tango voice in history…Calo gave Beron a contract for 500 pesos a month which was a huge sum of money in those days…one year later, Lucio Demare would triple that sum to entice Raul Beron to join his orchestra…the year after that, Calo would greatly increase the Demare offer to get Beron back…the lyrics, written by the legendary Homero Exposito describe a man’s heart throbbing, “compas del corazon”, at the thought of seeing his beloved again and predicting that she will gasp incredulously at the joy of experiencing anew their love..

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“Al Compas Del Corazon” had a rather serendipitous begining…when its composer Domingo Federico joined the Calo orchestra in 1941 he showed the piece to his fellow musicians who were enthusiastic about it, however the two singers Raul Beron and Alberto Podesta were unsure about the piece…one afternoon, at violinist Enrique Francini’s initiative, the orchestra, without Calo’s permission and without preparation, tried the tango out at an afternoon tea house performance which Calo normally did not attend…it was instantly beloved by the public who requested an encore; it was at this point that Calo walked in to witness the success…he ordered of course, that it be included into their repertoir….just a few months later Beron would have another hit “Me Llaman El Zorro”…composer Domingo Federico, born in the neighborhood of Palermo Viejo, was taught the violin by his father, he later studied piano at the Pedro Maffia, Sebastian Piana conservatory…he aspired to be a doctor and was in medical school when the success of a duo he had formed with his sister Nelida inspired him to devote himself to tango

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1951, April 28 – OSMAR MADERNA DIES IN PLANE CRASH !

She never really recovered and in the twilight of her life Olga Renee Massei was to write, ” it was long ago that my dreams had a chance of coming true…but God cruelly shattered them…without smiles, without warmth, without expectation…oh, there were days when I never saw the sun…nights when tears were my only companion, my weary heart, my sole reality”…but in 1947 she felt like the luckiest woman in the world; in a fairy tale romance, she had just married Osmar Maderna, one of the most beloved musicians in Buenos Aires…he was handsome and at the pinnacle of success, she was pregnant with their first child…and then, that day, it was a Saturday around five in the afternoon; Osmar just finshed flying his Euroscope 415 CD; besides music his other passion was flying…he ran into a friend Alberto Lopez, who challenged him to a brief race, “No” insisted Olga, “you have already flown, let’s go home”…Osmar insisted, she remembed the terrible feeling in the pit of her stomach…

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Flying 200 meters in the air Osmar oscillated the his wings at Lopez’s plane next to him and a bit of playful dueling ensued…suddenly his planed banked and his wing clipped lopez’s plane causing the plane to  lose lift, spiral and in spite of his strenuous efforts, Osmar hit the ground in a fiery crash…that evening Olga had a miscarrige and lost the baby…Osmar Maderna, “The Chopin of Tango” was dead at the age of  thirty three; just one month earlier he had made his twentieth recording at RCA Victor studios…Osmar’s love of Chopin would reveal itself in his subtle, ethereal, romantic touch; he was greatly influenced Liszt and Rimsky Korsakoff…at age thirteen he put together his first group calling it “Vitaphone”…he was eventually invited by the legendary Miguel Calo to join his orchestra where he held his own against the likes of Enrique Francini and Armando Pontier…his “Orchestra De Las Estrellas” was innovative resembling in style that of Mariano Mores who along with Astor Piazzolla blended classical music with tango.

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1933, April 27 – PREMIERE OF MOGLIA BARTH’S “TANGO”

Toward the end of the film, Alberto, played by singer Alberto Gomez, says to Elena played by Libertad Lamarque, “Now I love tango more than ever, all this life with you I owe to him….Elena responds, “and I too love tango, it is through a tango that I met you and with a tango I began to love you”…nevertheless as soon as Alberto finds out that his first love Tita is available he leaves Elena…in fact it was to presage Libertad’s real life which would be full of pain and disappointment with love…it was in this film that Tita Merello, a woman of many men, would meet actor Luis Sandrini, her only true love, but who after ten years of marriage, would leave her for a young woman…The success of this mythical film was due in large part to the stellar performances of these two legendary women of tango, Tita Merello and Libertad Lamarque, it was the cinematic debut for both of them…Libertad would go on to star in over forty films in her career; Tita in over forty five including the acclaimed “Mercado De Abasto”

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The lead male role is played by singer Alberto Gomez who was to have a great career singing all over the world even if he acting was atrocious…”Tango’s” all star cast made it possible for audiences to finally see the beloved singers and musicians which they knew from radio programs…the cast included singers Azucena Maizani, Mercedes Simone, the orchestras of Juan de Dios Filiberto, Osvaldo Fresedo and Edgardo Donato and dancer El Cachafaz…”Tango” was a trailblazer on a number of fronts; it was the first film of production company Argentina Sono Film, it was the first sound film in Argentina (using the new Movietone system on which both film and sound were on the same tape), it was the first sound film to use tango as it primary theme…Argentina Sono Film was the idea of director Luis Moglia Barth who went to his friend and colleague, businessman Angel Metasti with the idea…the studio was to have a long life producing films for various directors and branching into movie theaters and television well into the 2000s…

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1925, April 26 – FIRST RACE FOR “LUNATICO”, GARDEL’S HORSE

Carlos Gardel had many women in his life but his only true passion was horse racing and perhaps it is fitting that his composition “Por Una Cabeza”, about a man’s misfortune with women and horses, is one of the most instantly recognized melodies in the world…it has been featured in many films including “Schindler’s List” and “Scent of a Woman”…but horse racing was not kind to him, he lost alot of money in it and there were times when he was in serious financial difficulty inspite of the enormous sums he commanded…the one bright spot was his beloved horse “Lunatico”, which he bought for 2000 pesos and who, in thirty-six races, won 72, 450 pesos over a four-year career…for his first race on April 26, 1925, in a 1,200- meter distance, he finished third.…for most of his career he was ridden by the renown jockey Irineo Leguisamo who became a close of friend of Gardel’s…in fact Leguisamo inspired a tango called “Leguisamo Solo” which Gardel recorded in 1927 in Buenos Aires…

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Gardel spent alot of his time thinking about horse racing; he would bet by proxy sending telegrams to Buenos Aires from Paris and New York…in a famous  episode in 1918, Gardel and Razzano were performing with the Roberto Firpo orchestra and the duo escaped in the middle of the night to travel all night by train to see a horse race to the immense ire of Firpo..not unlike that of the American West, the horse in Argentine culture was mythical; for the gaucho on the pampas, his horse was a symbol of his manhood and independance…horse racing had the mystique of macho and a man of means and consequently, often the theme of tangos; Gardel’s early recordings were full of references to horses…in a letter to Delfino, his administrator just a few days before his death, Gardel wrote in frustration, “…as for the horses, it’s ok to get rid of them…I have already done enough for them !”

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1918, April 25 – BIRTH OF MARIA DE LA FUENTE

Singer (Taurus) – Emperor Hirohito of Japan was considered a living God and ordinary people were not only forbidden to see him but not even allowed to say his name…it was indeed a rare privilege for Maria De La Fuente to be able to sing before him and in fact he would become a big tango fan…she had some a long way from the little girl, who huddled around the radio with her family, dreamt of being like Libertad Lamarque whom she heard on the radio; Maria in time, would sing tango all over the world….Maria De La Fuente was born in the town of General Roca to a Lebanese  immigrant family of ten children; five boys and five girls…it was a family which loved music and she remembered her mother singing songs in her native Arabic…just barely out of grade school she got her first break singing on a radio station in the city of Bahia Blanca, the birth place of the legendary Carlos Di Sarli...

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Her older sister, who chaperoned her to the radio station, would eventually marry the presenter who would later move to Buenos Aires to work for Radio Belgrano; he would later help facilitate Maria’s participation on an important program on the station…At the age of seventeen, she was part of an all woman tango quartet which included Chola Bosch and which performed on Radio El Mundo’s  inaugural broadcast in 1935…Maria would sing with the orchestras of Julio De Caro, Francisco Rotondo and the Miguel Calo; in 1952 she recorded a celebrated LP with the Astor Piazzolla…she was with Juan Canaro on his mythical trip to Japan in 1954, the first visit in history for an Argentinean orchestra….the concert was a great success and the beginning of the opening of Japan to visiting tango musicians…at the age of eighty years old, having successfully undergone an operation to restore her vocal cords, she made her last recording; four years later she delighted audiences with a concert at the Casa De Cultura of Buenos Aires…at the age of ninety-two she sang in the documentary “12 Tangos – Adios Buenos Aires”.

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1953, April 24 – DEBUT OF “EL PATIO DE LA MOROCHA”

It is a recurrent story in literature… in “Fiddler On The Roof” (1971), Tevye a poor Jewish farmer in 19th century Russia has arranged for his daughter Tzeitel to marry a rich butcher but she is in love with her childhood sweetheart…the story surfaces again in the classic Bollywood film “Ram Gi Ganga” (1984) where a poor man with a sick wife contemplates marrying his young, beautiful daughter to a rich man but the daughter wants to marry the neighborhood poor boy…in the stage production “El Patio De La Morocha” an ambitious man wants to marry his daughter off to a wealthy man to finance his political ambitions; however her heart is else where…It was one of the most successful plays in Argentine history; “El Patio De La Morocha” ran for two seasons   and was performed 500 times….the screen play was written by Catulo Castillo and its composer and musical director was Anibal Troilo

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It was a massive production with over twenty actors …the orchestra, directed by Astor Piazzolla, was composed of thirty musicians with an all-star cast including singers Raul Beron, Jorge Casal, Agustin Irusta and Aida Luz…Agustin Irusta would debut the tango “Una Cancion”…Raul Beron and Agustin Irusta, in duo, would debut “Vuelve La Serenata”…Aida Luz premiered “Patio Mio…in one particular scene, Anibal Troilo plays Eduardo Arolas, the ill-fated musical genius who would die a destitute alcoholic alone in Paris at the age of thirty two…the play was inspired by a film version which had been released on August 14, 1951…it was directed by Manuel Romero and starred Virginia Luque and Sofia Bozan…interestingly, the lead role in the play had been offered to Viriginia Luque who turned it down because of a quarrel with the producers…sixty years later the play was again staged to great acclaim premiering on January of 2011 and starring Susana Rinaldi

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