Archive for June 16th, 2011


Composer, Guitarist, Violinist (Gemini) – his paternal gandparents Agustin Ocampo and Angela Vilaza came to Argentina in leg irons; they were slaves from the Congo…although Modesto Ocampo was brought up in extreme poverty in Montevideo’s tough “Barrio Sur”, where two other tango pioneers of African descent Lagrima Rios and Carlos Olmedo also grew up, he was also given the gift of a loving family which would manifest itself in kindness and generosity as an adult…this, along with his musical ability, would earn him the respect of his community and in his mature years the honorary, “Don Vito”….out on the streets the young Modesto learned to defend himself and he was renown for his courage…in a famous incident, Modesto was the bandoneon player with a trio auditioning at the Cafe Boedo in Montevideo whose owner reportedly said “I like you guys very much except for black guy; he is too black for this place“, where upon the leader of the trio responded, “he is a good musician and has a big heart and so if he leaves we all leave”


As a child his teachers began to notice two talents, music and drawing…in fact he would pursue studies in violin, guitar and painting…in 1903 he moved to Buenos Aires to work as an apprentice in the laboratory of Bixio Photo Shop; in time he would become the manager…at the age of twenty-four he married his childhood sweetheart Paula Perez and it was in between the birth of his two daughters that he composed his two tangos  “Queca” and “Te Amo Con Delirio”…”Queca” was recorded first by Vicente Greco and later by Francisco Canaro…he played for many years with the Famiglietti Orchestra with whom he became celebrated for his impassioned virtuosity with the Bandoneon; later he opened his own photo shop…in his later years he would lock himself away in his attic to paint; in 1946, in Buenos Aires, he organized the only exhibition of his work…true to his nature, he gave away his paintings to admirers and friends….at the age of seventy-nine, with his beloved wife and daughters at his side, he passed away in the same house that his grandfather Agustin Ocampo, African slave, had lived in