Archive for the ‘ Jewish ’ Category

1913, January 15 – BIRTH OF FELIX LIPESKER

Composer, Bandoneonist (Capricorn) – Ana Dobin was in the final throes of death, her emaciated, twitching body in liver failure, the result of an abortion attempt using laundry bluing which had been recommended by a neighbor…her husband Jose was trying to encourage her but she was more interested in last-minute exhortations for the care of her six children, especially the three year old, that she would soon be leaving behind…she fell silent for a moment before adding one final request, that he should never bring another woman into her house…to this he consented and in fact Jose would never remarry…that evening Ana slipped into a coma and soon after passed away; she was thirty-five years old…Ana had arrived in Rosario, Argentina at the age of 17 with her husband Jose embarking on the arduous journey from Odessa, Russia where pogroms were a constant danger…Jose was a cap maker and in Rosario his small shop eventually grew to have 20 employees

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Felix was the second oldest child and from the moment he touched his older brother German’s bandoneon he was transfixed by it and through his relentless tinkering, he learned to play it…German procurred lessons for him and one year later he was playing in the local cafes with his teacher’s orchestra… the first tango Felix composed  was “A Rosario Central”; inspired by the local football team of which the whole family were ardent fans…they sold the sheet music with a photo of the team on it for 10 cents in front of the stadium….news of this remarkable young man came to the ear of Julio de Caro in far away Buenos Aires and eventually he hired him…years later his wife would prevail upon him to renounce the tiring, sleepless musician’s life; Felix became an entrepreneur…he started a conservatory, developed a famous method for learning to play bandoneon which he sold by mail and even bought a music publishing company…among his numerous compositions are three waltzes which were hits “Romantica”, “Gotta de Lluvia” and “Tu Nombre” and the milonga “Arrabal”…his brother Leo, a violinist would join the Pedro Maffia and Miguel Calo orchestras…his brother Santos, a clarinetist and composer would conduct the staff orchestra of Radio El Mundo

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  • CLICK HERE – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIoK772zve0 to hear one of Felix’s greatest hits, the waltz “Gotta De LLuvia” (raindrops) sung in duet by Argentino Ledesma and Raul Lavie from the television program Grandes Valores Del Tango
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1900, December 14 – BIRTH OF JUAN D’ARIENZO

Leader, Violinist (Sagitarrius) – it is said that the Emperor Hirohito of Japan was such a big fan of Juan D’arienzo that he sent him a blank check; when Juan still said no, he offered to send him a submarine to bring him to Japan….Juan D’arienzo was enormously popular and received invitations  from all over the world but he never left his area; he was afraid of flying…in an interview, late in life, he said that at the Chantecler Cabaret, Carlos Gardel said to him, “Juanito, I will die in an airplane”; he was sure, D’arienzo once said, that Gardel’s fate awaited him…Juan D’arienzo is widely credited with creating the boom in tango in the 1940s when he sped up the beat of the orchestra; a beat which was perfect for dancing…the old guard had another opinion, they saw it as bad taste…but young young people loved his orchestra and it became chic…his milonga “La Punalada” (composed by Pintin Castellanos), released in 1950, was the first ever million seller…his version of “La Cumparsita” which he recorded 8 times sold 14 million copies…Anibal Troilo said of him “laugh if you will but without him, we’d all be out of work”….

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Juan D’arienzo, the eldest of three children, was born to Italian immigrant parents in the neighborhood of Balvanera, Buenos Aires…his father was the owner of an agricultural plant and he was determined that his eldest son study law and succeed him; young Juan however, had other ideas… from a very early age he loved music and by the age of 12 he was a good violinist; his mother secretly encouraged him…neverthless the angry fights with his father were endless and toward the end of his life Juan still painfully regretted that his father never quite forgave him…Juan was a good student and for a while worked with his father who helped him become a good salesman and a good businessman…as a teenager he struck a friendship with a young pianist Angel D’agostino and together they formed their first group “Ases del Tango”; their first contract was a gig at the zoo where Juan would later recall the catcalls of exotic birds and the roar of the lions which would sometimes accompany them…a distinquished composer Carlos Posadas took Juan under his wing and mentored him; Juan began playing with the orchestra of the Teatro Avenida…he formed his first orchestra in 1928…there are over 1007 recording by Juan D’arienzo…he was to say immodestly about himself, “with me 100,000 orchestras  and neighborhood clubs flourished”

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1905, December 2 – BIRTH OF OSVALDO PUGLIESE

Composer, Leader, Pianist (Sagittarius) – the story is told of the time when Osvaldo Pugliesewas playing the “Cumparsita” in a night club and the police raided because he was forbidden to work…the owner of the club told the police that they should at least finish what they were playing…somehow word got back to Osvaldo and so he ordered that they continue playing; in fact they played for so long that the police finally left out of frustration…when the longest “Cumparsita” ever, finally came to an end, the crowd applauded thunderously; humbly, Osvaldo stood up and pointed to his orchestra in gratitude….besides being one of the greatest tango figures in history, Osvaldo Pugliese was an impassioned and indefatigable activist for social justice who was frequently  persecuted by the Juan Peron government…among his activities, he was an organizer of workers’ strikes and even looked after the welfare of the terribly exploited prostitutes

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During his periodic incarcerations, his orchestra, which would continue performing, would place a red rose on top of his unmanned piano…He was born in the neighborhood of Villa Crespo, Buenos Aires, a traditionally jewish neighborhood, to an Italian immigrant father who gave him his first lesson in the playing of the violin; Osvaldo would later switch to piano..at the age of 16 he was hired by Paquita Bernardo, the first professional female bandoneonist in Argentina, to play in her sextet…after numerous engagements with different orchestras, on August 11, 1939, he debuted with his orchestra at the Cafe Nacional…he set up his orchestra as a cooperative in which everyone including himself was paid the same amount of money…there were numerous great hits among his hundreds of recording but perhaps non greater than “Recuerdo” which he composed  at the age of 19…during one of his numerous world tours at a stopover in Japan, he had a conversation with Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, a renown Buddhist who said of Osvaldo “I have met with emperors, kings, philosophers, great personalities from around the world, but I never found as much spiritual affinity with such a person as with Osvaldo.”

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  • CLICK HERE – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1N4EJFhAqo to hear a brief interview with the inimitable Osvaldo Pugliese followed by a performance of “Recuerdo” by his own orchestra shortly before passing away at the age of 90

1911, December 1 – BIRTH OF MIGUEL NIJENSOHN

Composer, Leader, Pianist (Sagittarius) – it was never clear if their death from a gas leak in their small apartment in Mar De Plata one cold winter night in 1983, had in fact been a dyadic suicide pact; before going to bed they had enjoyed an elaborate last meal, a half empty bottle of wine with two elegant glasses was found on the night stand…his wife Raquel suffered from severe depression; she had begged him to come back to Argentina after having been separate for a few years  and they had moved to Mar De Plata to start anew where perhaps they could be new persons away from their history and their memories…in life, Miquel Nijensohn was the son of jewish baker who because of his militant socialist’s activities was persecuted in Bessarabia and emigrated to Argentina where he opened a baker’s shop (he would later be severely injured from a bullet fired by an anarchist employee whom he had dismissed)…

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Miguel was the youngest of six siblings and a lover of music and very early on he started tinkering with the piano that was in the house…he studied piano seriously and it was fully expected that he would become a classical pianist; at the age of 14 he chose instead to join the Roberto Firpo Orchestra with whom he toured South America…In 1927, with then 13-year-old Anibal Troilo, he created a trio which attained notoriety at Cafe Rio De La Plata in the Caballito neighborhood….by 1935 he formed his own group to back up singer Antonio Rodriguez Lesende at the Club Lucerna…the key event in his career however, came in 1936, was when he was asked by Miguel Calo to join his orchestra…here his talents would come to full bloom as a pianist and a brilliant arranger and a key reason for that orchestra’s great success…as a composer some of his tangos were great hits not only for Miguel Calò but for Juan D’arenzo and Carlos Di Sarli among others

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1993, November 30 – PREMIERE, “SCHINDLER’S LIST”

The classic tango “Por Una Cabeza” written by Carlos Gardel in 1935, is playing as Oskar Shindler is entering the night club to meet all the Nazi officials…”Schindler’s List” is a film about Oskar Schindler, a German businessman, a greedy war profiteer, the unlikeliest of all role models who then employs his skills and spends vast sums of his money to save thousands of Polish jews and risking his life in the process….the film’s soundtrack includes  “Ostatnia Niedziela” (Death Tango) which was played as jews were led to their death in nazi gas chambers…Shindler’s List, directed by Steven Speilberg, is based on the novel “Schindler’s Ark” by Thomas Keneally…it Stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as SS officer Amon Goth and Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern…

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The film was a box office success and recipient of seven academy awards including “Best Picture”, “Best Director” and “Best Original Score” as well as numerous other awards (7 BAFTAs, 3 Golden Globes)…In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked the film 8th on its ”List of the 100 Best American Films of All Time”…The lyrics of “Por Una Cabeza” speak of a compulsive horse track gambler who compares his addiction for horses to his attraction for women; Carlos Gardel was himself, a compulsive race horse gambler…the version in Schindler’s List, by the Rococo Quartet, is in the eyes of many, the best version ever after the original…Por Una Cabeza has been used in numerous films including the legendary, Scent of a Woman, where Al Pacino, as a blind, retired army colonel, dances to it…Interestingly, the most recognizable portion of the melody is borrowed from Mozart’s Rondo for Violin and Orchestra in C, K. 373 (about two-thirds of the way through the piece)….tango has a strong jewish influence; two of its greatest, Astor Piazzolla and Osvaldo Pugliese, were of Italian jewish origin

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  • CLICK HERE – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FOUTWbu5WM to see the scene where Oskar Schindler walks in to the night club with“Por Una Cabeza” playing in the background…this is a version which has been modified from the original which was only an instrumental…in the eyes of many this is actually an improvement over the original

1996, November 19 – JULIO RELEASES “TANGO”

Tango” became Julio Iglesias’ number one set album on Billboard Top Latin Albums and that same year won  the World Musica Award…in 1998 it was awarded a nomination for a Grammy Best Latin Pop Album; his competition included his own son Enrique for his album “Vivir”…it is comprised of 12 of tango history’s top classics including “La Cumparsita”, “A Media Luz” composed by Edgardo Donato and  “El Choclo” composed by the fascinating Angel Villoldo…one critic said of the album “Iglesias’ emotional commitment to these 12 songs is palpable, he involves himself so completely in every song that one is almost surprised he can walk away from one song to begin the next”…Julio has sold over 260 million records worldwide in 14 languages and released 77 albums; he is one of the top 10 best-selling music artists in history.

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Julio (born September 23, 1943, Virgo), is the son of a Galician physician who had fought for General Franco during the Spanish Civil War and a jewish mother…Julio was a professional soccer player when a truck ran him off the road and his car flipped… after 14 hours of surgery he awoke completely paralyzed from the waist down…with iron will determination and the devotion of his father, Julio pursued rehabilitation and was eventually able to move again…to pass the time he would play guitar and thus, relatively late in life, discovered his love of singing…his career was launched in 1968 when he won the Benidorn International Song Festival with “La Vida Sigue Igual” …interestingly, while a car accident launched the singing career of this Julio, it  ended the singing career of another one, the legendary Julio Sosa in 1964…meanwhile the father of Julio Iglesias, at the age of 86, married 37-year-old african american Ronna Keitt and the couple had two children; he passed away 8 days after the birth of his second child at the age of 90…Julio says of his singing, “My goal is to make people dream…I seduce them but I must seduce myself first.”

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1910, November 11 – BIRTH OF RAUL KAPLAN

Composer, Leader, Violinist (Scorpio) – his older two siblings died of scarlet fever; he was the only one to survive…he was born Israel Kaplun in the neighborhood of Balvanera, Buenos Aires to an itinerant jewish hat salesman who had immigrated from Besarabia, (Moldavia) with his wife…some black neighbors who would help look after Israel, began calling him “Raul” which is what his name sounded like to them when “Israel” was prononced in yiddish…Raul immersed himself in violin lessons at at the jewish grammar school that he attended…when he was about to finish grammer school he noticed a job ad for a violinist…when he arrived at the audition there were 20 people vying for the position, all of them older; he was hired….he was inserted into an ensemble which played at silent movie theaters

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Later while playing with a jazz group at the Astral Movie Theater, he crossed paths with Miguel Calo who upon hearing the boy play promptly asked him to join his group; thus was Raul born into the tango world… his broadcasting debut was with Radio Prieto in 1928 although later he would get blackballed in radio for his refusal to join the Peronist Party…one historian has suggested that it was for Kaplun’s virtuosity, that solo violin passages were first written into tango and that it is precisely this element that led to the boom of the 40s……his first composition was the waltz “Recordando a Musè” published in 1935…later with the orchestra of Lucio Demare he composed his first hits  ”Una Emocion”and “Que Solo Estoy” which was a major hit for Raul Beron……in June of 1946 he put together his own orchestra  which at the Cabaret Montecarlo auditioned and hired a young 16-year-old named Roberto Goyeneche whom he would allow to sleep on the sofa and whom he accompanied to the tram stop as he had promised his mother he would do

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