Archive for July, 2011

1897, July 31 – BIRTH OF AGESILAO FERRAZANO

Composer, Leader, Violinist (Leo) – Paris on Christmas Day was romantic , the glittering  lights of its boulevards, its gorgeous windows, when Agesilao Ferrazzano arrived there in 1927…Parisioners were still talking about the landing of Charles Lindberg just a few months earlier and for Ernest Hemingway, part of Gertrude Steins lost generation, Paris was a continuous feast…perhaps Agesilao knew that destiny would rule that he was never to return home to Buenos Aires….he would eventually move to Italy where he would remain for many years and finally find his spiritual home in Beirut, Lebanon, where after a long and glorious career he would he would pass away at the age of 83….already as a child he demonstrated keen musical ability and he became devoted to the study of the violin…his first professional job was with the Roberto Firpo Orchestra when he was still a teenager; he was with Firpo when he premiered “La Cumparista” at the “La Giralda Cafe” in Montevideo in 1916…

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“La Cumparsita” which had been composed by a young architectural student Gerardo Matos Rogriguez, would become the most recognized tango in history…at the noted Maxim’s Cabaret he was a member of the orchestra of the ill-fated Eduardo Arolas…he formed his first orchestra at the age of 22 with Vicente Gorrese and in 1920 he formed with Enrique Delfino a celebrated duo with piano and violin which played in the foyer of the Opera House Theater…he would become part of the famous “Quarteto de Maestros” formed by Osvaldo Fresedo…he sailed on the steam ship Cap Polonia for his first trip to Europe as part of the Francisco Lomuto Orchestra…upon his return he, along with Adolfo Carabelli, was a founding member of the legendary Orchestra Tipica Victor…still later his Ferrazano Pollero Orchestra appeared to great success at the “Follies Bergere”….he and Pollero composed and recorded two especially beautiful tangos “Cuando Tu Me Quieras” and “Una Tarde”

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1954, July 30 – MARIO POMAR RECORDS “NO ME PREGUNTEN PORQUE”

The title means “Don’t ask me why”…and the lyrics say, “If one day you see me enter the cafe in a disheveled and confused manner, don’t ask me why…my soul was inebriated in the light of divine eyes, in lips which were a cup of honey…but today that I live in despair, I need to bury my existence in alcohol”…as a youth Mario Pomar began singing in local bars and cafes for donations until one fateful day a producer from Radio Belgrano happened to hear him and invited him to sing on the radio station…it was the beginning of a career in which he sang with the best orchestras including that of Miguel Calo, Juan D’arienzo and Osmar Maderna whom he met when they both played for Miguel Calo…He was nineteen when he made his first recording “Vuelve Otra Vez”…he was backed by the renown “Orchestra Tipica Victor” which through its many years of existence retained the excellence of its creator, the classically trained Adolfo Carabelli, whose disillusionment with a love affair would cause him to become a recluse and die alone at the age of 54…

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“No Me Pregunten Porque” was composed by the immortal Carlos Di Sarli who besides being a renown orchestra leader was also an accomplished composer…three times in his career his musicians walked out on him…he was a demanding, temperamental, difficult perfectionist…maybe it had something to do with the fact that as a young boy he had lost an eye in an accident and wore a prosthesis…he was born in the town of Bahia Blanca to an italian immigrant father who had moved to the new world when his first wife tragically died young…he eventually fell in love with Carlo’s mother Serafina who came from a musical family; one of her brothers Tito Russomano was a noted barritone…with the encouragement of his father young Carlos began studying piano preparing for a career in classical music…at age 13 he horrified his family when he began playing and touring with a Zarzuela Company…three years later he formed his own orchestra and began playing at the Cafe Express in his home town; it is during this period that he composed his first tango “Meditacion”…Carlos was also a gifted musician and perhaps no one represents the beauty, the sensuality, the passion of tango better, for the great number of people in the world, than he does…he recorded over 250 tangos in 27 albums

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1940, July 29 – PEDRO LAURENZ RECORDS “AMURADO”

The word “Amurado” means “abandoned” in lunfardo…the lyrics say, “I find my bed is empty…I find only her small framed picture…all that remains are some of her clothes, and wilted flowers since she abandoned me…if she could see me now how old I have become…I am haunted by dark thoughts and I seek my illusive solace in bars”…“Amurado” was the most popular work of lyricist Jose de Grandis who haphazardly penned words to tangos that he liked…he was a violinist who worked with among others Roberto Goyeneche…there was much mystery in his life and he died young probably from abuse of alcohol and the night life…Pedro Laurenz, a bandoneon player, became a noted composer and orchestra leader…in 1925, he formed with Pedro Maffia the legendary bandoneon duo which recorded a number of classic tangos

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Pedro Maffia, composer of Amurado, grew up in a destitute family with a brutal father who would beat him and force him to beg for money…he ran away to the house of the legendary “Negra Maria” likely brothel owner and mother of several musicians by different fathers and … his marginal living came from playing in cheap bars in the outskirts of town…one day while playing in the village of Punta Arena he was discovered by Carlos Gardel and Jose Razzano…Roberto Firpo, later asked him to join his orchestra…like Juan Maglio “Pacho”, he was one of the first to play the bandoneon “a capella”…he formed his first orchestra in 1926… “Amurado” continues to be highly popular with dancers and performers…Anibal Troilo would write a tango in his honor, “A Pedro Maffia…he starred in the mythical film“Tango” directed by Luis Moglia Barth and released in 1933

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1935, July 28 – BIRTH OF SILVIA DEL RIO

This was the moment of her greatest dream and she looked up at the immense and impressive studios of Radio Belgrano which for more than 30 years had been the soul of Buenos Aires….and all of a sudden she heard her name called, “and now the senorita, Silvia Del Rios will sing for us”…her hands were trembling as she approached the microphone, there was a breathless moment but when she began singing it all disappeared and she felt herself soaring…Silvia Del Rio did not win that evening but she came in second…it was the beginning of a long and glorious career spanning 40 years…she was awarded with a series of appearances on Radio Belgrano and she recorded her first disc, “Solo Un Minuto” with the Belgrano Orchestra lead by the team of Leopoldo Federico Orchestra and Hector Stamponi

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Silvia del Rio was born in the neighborhood of Flores in Buenos Airs to a French immigrant father who dreamt of being a painter…early on he noticed young Silvia’s penchant for singing and encouraged his beloved daughter…soon after he appearance on Radio Belgrano, Silvia was commissioned for a tour of Spain where she was received enthusiastically…In 1972 she released her first LP in an orchestra conducted by Oscar Toscano and began appearing at the most important venues including Cano 14 and La Casa De Carlos Gardel where she often shared billing with legends like Anibal Troilo and Roberto Goyeneche…she would go on extended tours of Peru and Colombia and the United States…she appeared in two films “Asalto En La Ciudad” and “Villa Carina Que Esta Que Arde”…along the way she fell in love for the first time with celebrated journalist and actor Carlos Alberto Dusso; they would marry and raise a family together of which she was to say, “the applause become muffled, the theater light dim, but they are my eternal accomplishment”

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1972, July 27 – NELLY OMAR RETURNS TO THE STAGE

When Juan Peron was overthrown, one evening Nelly Omar had her home invaded and ransacked by soldiers; she was considered a Peronist and dangerous and all of a sudden there was no more work for her…the radio stations would not play her music and her public appearances came to a stop…there was a period when she tried to downplay her involvement; that she wasn’t really a Peronist, that she wasn’t political….she downplayed the significance of having recorded the milonga “Soy La Descamisada” a theme song for Peronism….much later in life in a radio interview she claimed to dearly love Juan Peron and Evita and that she was an ardent Peronist…a very proud woman, she once said that she never went hat-in-hand to anyone and that the only one who had helped her had been Evita who as a fan…in any case when the military took over she went first to Uruguay and then to Venezuela and in disgust disappeared from the public eye until Jose Canet, guitarist and composer, convinced to come out of retirement…they recorded and did a series of public performances together

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Nelly Omar was born on September 10, 1911 (Virgo) in the city Guamin…her father an immigrant from Genova, Italy was a ranch foreman who in his spar time loved to sing and strum the guitar…he was a true friend to Carlos Gardel who Nelly remembers seeing for the first time when he was at their home….she began to study music and dance; at the age of 13 she auditioned for a folk group “Cenizas de Fogon” which performed on radio as well and got accepted…she continued developing her career on Radio…she joined the group “Cuadros Argentinos” , a theater company which was led by two brothers Julio and Alfredo Navarrine who wrote many tangos still popular today…there she met and eventually married Antonio Molina…the marriage lasted eight years but she was to say, “I knew it was a mistake after the first few months”…she later had an affair with the legendary lyricist Homero Manzi whose “Ninguna” may have been inspired by her…she appeared in two films “Canto de Amor” in 1940 and “Melodias de la America” in 1942…in December of  1997, at the age of 86 she recorded a CD…incredibly, at the age of 101 she is still going strong; still as feisty and fiery as ever

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1951, July 26 – OSCAR FERRARI RECORDS “SERA UNA NOCHE”

The lyrics to “Sera Una Noche” are different from so many others that are fatalistic…”Sera Una Noche” speaks instead of hope, “I know that one day happiness will return to my life…I know that there will come the day that you return to me”..the lyrics were written by  Manuel Ferradas Campos…for the composer of the music Jose Tinelli, son of Italian immigrants from the region of Puglia, it was love at first sight when he first saw the lovely singer Chola Bosch…they would get married and have a marvelous career together until his untimely death at the age of 49 from a heart attack…Tinelli’s composition “Por Una Vuelta” was made into a great hit by the Jose Basso Orchestra 17 years after it was composed when it was sung by Floreal Ruiz…it was during his tenure with the Jose Basso orchestra that Oscar Ferrari recorded “Sera Una Noche” on July 26, 1951…Oscar Ferrari was born in the neighborhood of Balvanera in Buenos Aires on August 9, 1924…he was the only child of a renown dancers couple who performed  in variety shows…

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Oscar  practically grew up in theaters as he accompanied his parents with their traveling company…he began singing in some of those theater productions at the age of four…Oscar was six years old the family moved to Montevideo to work for a theater company when tragedy struck; his father died unexpectedly at the age of 28…at the age of 14 Oscar had his first professional job when he was hired by the Antonio Felice Orchestra…it was the beginning of a long and glorious career which included performances with the orchestras of Alfredo Gobbi, Astor Piazzolla and Armando Pontier for whom he formed a duo with the ill-fated Julio Sosa…with the Edgardo Donato Orchestra he sang on Radio El Mundo and recorded his first disc “Galleguita”…the greatest hit of his career however, was “Venganza”; of its first printing alone, it sold over 4 million copies…during the latter part of his life, he devoted himself to teaching voice and wrote the book “Cabaret Stories” and a book of poetry…he was included in the film “Cafe De Los Maestros”, directed by Miguel Kohan which premiered in 2008 two months before Oscar passed away at the age of 84

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1878, July 25 – BIRTH OF JOSE BETINOTTI

In the 1950 film “The Last Payador” as Jose Betinoti is dying he says to his friend Pascual Contursi, “us payadores are done, you were right, now the tango singers will take over”…Jose Betinotti passed away at the age of 37 from complications of alcoholism but in his short life he would compose over 100 folk songs many of which he recorded in the early Gramophone Disc first invented by Emile Berliner in 1889…he would disseminate his compositions through simple pamphlets starting with “Mis Primeras Hojas” which came out in 1909 …indeed it was Contursi with his “Mi Noche Triste”, publsihed in 1916, on the music by Samuel Castriota which is generally regarded as the first “tango cancion”, or Tango Song…it ushered in the new tango fashion although some payadores like the Ambrosio Rio would continue for another 15 years…Ambrosio was Betinotti’s best friend and it is said that Betinotti died in his arms…in the film Ambrosio would be played by singer Lito Bayardo who after a long career would kill himself with a gun shot to the head

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Jose Betinotti, the son of poor Italian immigrants who settled in the neighborhood of Flores, had little education; he had to quit school to work….a payador of african descent Luis Garcia introduced him to the legendary payador Gabino Ezeiza, also of African descent, who invited him to sing in the circus where Jose began his career…his bohemian, romantic nature would endear him to the public…at the age of 18 Jose married a cigarette vendor who was devoted to him until the end; a child born to them passed away soon after its birth…after his death, with no estate to claim and with the memory of so much pain in her life, she returned to her simple job of  selling cigaretts……had  Jose Betinotti lived a little bit longer, like Carlos Gardel, he might have well transitioned to a tango singer…in 1948 a collection of his works was published, “Pobre Mi Madre Querida” after the name of his most famous composition…he was widely regarded as a humble and honest man; a poet once said of him, “he was the singer for mothers and pain” …paying homage to the payadores whom she always loved, the legendary Nelly Omar was to say, “it is because of them that I sing”

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1888, July 24 – BIRTH OF EDUARDO ESCARIS MENDEZ

Poet (Leo) – Eduardo Escaris Mendez, like two other renown tango poets Pascual Contursi and Dante A. Linyera, ended his life alone and forgotten in the insane asylum “Hospicio De Las Mercedes” legendary for its storys of patients chained to the dining tables and cruel and violent orderlys in miserable conditions…founded in 1865, by the end of World War I, at its peak, it contained 6000 patients…the cause of Mendez’s madness and that of Contursi and Linyera as well, was probably the latter psychotic phase of syphilis…syphlis had been rampant in Europe in the 18th and 19th century and was carried by immigrants to Argentina…from the begining, tango was was part of the culture of whorehouses; its musicians frequently played there….Mendez was the lyricist for many tangos but his most enduring has been “Barajando” which has been recorded by many orchestras…for many years he ran gambling joints along with the requisite girls for entertainment…toward the end of his life, debilitated by the progressive effects of syphlis, he opened a second-hand book store and remained there until he was completed incapacitated and interned in the Hospicio De Las Mercedes from which few returned…

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The renown bandoneon player and composer Jose Marmon, who created over 380 compositions, was known to have contracted syphilis no doubt from performing in the houses of prostitution….little is know about how and when he passed away…at the beginning of 20th century treatment for mental illness was practically non-existent; patients were basically locked up…interestingly, Hippocrates in ancient Greece had observed that malaria induced convulsions could cure insanity in some patients; in fact inducing convulsions was one of the few existing therapies leading to what was at the time a major breakthrough, the development of electroshock therapy by Ugo Cerreti in Rome in 1937…the classic French film “King of Hearts”, about an insane asylum during World War I which premiered in 1966, inspired Horacio Ferrer to write his masterpiece “Ballada Para Un Loco” to Astor Piazzolla’s music which became a major hit for Roberto Goyeneche

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1954, July 23 – TITA RECORDS “SE DICE DE MI”

“I am ugly, I have a big nose, a body like a box, I move like a dinosaur and yet I have broken many men’s hearts”…this tongue in cheek message of “Se Dice De Mi” interestingly described the real life of Tita Merello with whom it would forever be associated due to her acclaimed rendition in the film “El Mercado Del Abasto”…the film, directed by Lucas Demare, the younger brother of the legendary Lucio Demare premiered in 1955….Tita’s rendition of “Se Dice De Mi” would make it one of the best known and perennial milongas in history…..her performance was in turn  inserted in Carlos Saura’s academy award nominated “Tango”which premiered in 1998…Tita was to say about her childhood, “…it was short, sad and ugly…I knew hunger and shame”…she would admit, without shame, to having had to resort to prostitution to survive….she was self-taught as a singer but her passion and her overwhelming drive would one day make her a legend; she would star in over forty films in her career

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“Se Dice De Mi”, composed by Francisco Canaro with the lyrics of Ivo Pelay, was first recorded by Canaro on May 19, 1943 with the voice of Carlos Roldan…Carlos Roldan, who was from Montevideo, was to have his own successes especially during his tenure with Francisco Canaro; two of his best known recording were “El Sentimiento Gaucho” and “Yo Solo Se”…he was catapulted to fame singing duet with Mercedes Simone on Radio Belgrano where he was backed up by the Pedro Maffia orchestra…he was nineteen years old when he entered a singing contest on the Westinghouse Radio Station and although he did not win he got noticed and went on to a grand career…but the trappings of success afforded him a late night, bohemian life which finally deteriorated his health; he died prematurely at age sixty…”Se Dice De Mi” would emerge to prominence again fifty years later when it was selected as the theme song for the Colombian soap opera “Betty La Fea” which was immensely popular all over the world…this version, sung by Yolanda Rayo, would be arranged in a salsa beat

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1907, July 22 – BIRTH OF TEOFILO IBANEZ

Singer, Composer (Cancer) – by the age of nine he was already a trained butcher and as a teenager he had his own stand at the market; he considered himself fortunate…for although in theory, these were still boom years in Argentina, the income disparity between the haves and the have-nots was indeed large and upward mobility difficult…contented Teofilo loved to sing as he worked and he developed quite a clientele with the ladys to whom he sang as he made their favorite cuts and wrapped their purchases in the traditional butchers’ white wrap; “here you go madam” he might say and the lady might well answer, “Teofilo, sing me again a piece of that tango”….one day a friend who worked in the Max Glucksmann record house heard that Roberto Firpo was looking for a singer and he suggested to Teofilo that he might try; Teofilo was unsure but Miguel prevailed and Teofilo auditioned…to his amazement, out of innumerable applicants Firpo selected him…a few days later, he made his debut at the Teatro Casino singing “Alma De Bohemio” and “Ya No Cantas Chingolo”…just a few weeks later he made his first recording session he recorded “Lechuza” and “Despedida” which were modest hits

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Teofilo Ibanez was born in the city of Pamplona, Spain to a poor family…this was a period when Spain was still largely agricultural, poor and illiterate; the memory of the disastrous war with the United States in which she lost the few remaining colonies was still fresh in the Spanish psyche…Teofilo’s family arrived in Buenos Aires and settled in the Barracas neighborhood; he was only four months old…Teofilo stayed with Firpo approximately 2 years during which he recorded 140 tangos…among the highlights of an extensive career are his recording in 1934 of Eduardo Arolas’  “Derecho Viejo” with the Adolfo Cabarbelli orchestra…during his eight month tenure with the Rodolfo Biagi Orchestra, he recorded eight well-remembered pieces including “Golgota” and “Alma De Bohemio”…in the mid 30s with the Julio De Caro orchestra he recorded the hit “Sueno De Juventud”….he would also record with the Edgardo Donato and the Osvaldo Fresedo Orchestras…he was the composer of one of the most endurable hits in tango history “La Vieja Serenata”

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