Archive for the ‘ Jewish ’ Category

1902, October 15 – BIRTH OF CARLOS BAHR

The disappearance of the crew Mary Celeste “Ghost Ship”, in 1872 is often cited as the greatest maritime mystery of all time…it’s captain and crew, mysteriously disappeared from a ship that was shipshape, loaded with food and supplies and with the personal belongings of its passengers still on board…it has been the foder of mariner folklore and literature over time….a similar fate awaited the father of Carlos Bahr, an experienced sailor and the owner of a whaling ship…Herr Bahr was a stern, highly principled and proud German of jewish origin from Hamburg…at the start of World War I, he reassured his French wife Colette and their three children in their La Boca neighborhood home and dutifully set sail on his ship to offer his services to the fatherland…on the way however, like Captain Benjamin Briggs of the Mary Celeste, he and his ship mysteriously disappeared and were never heard from again….the Bahr family was devastated…young Carlos Bahr had to quit school and he began to roam the streets doing odd jobs to survive and often sleeping in what ever cover he might find…in time he discovered a voracious appetite for reading…


Carlos Bahr (Libra) became self-taught in a wide variety of subjects becoming fluent in French, German, Italian…he would become the most prolific tango lyricist in history registering over 600 works in his name…his reading on the Spanish Civil War inflamed his imagination and he tried to volunteer but was rejected because of a lung problems…his first tango was “Cartas Viejas” written sometime in 1934….his first successful tango was “Fracaso” which Mercedes Simone recorded two years later…soon after that he won first prize with the milonga “Milonga Compadre” composed by Jose Mastro and recorded by Pedro Laurenz…it was while working at Radio Portena that his inspiration was first inflamed by a young, lovely singer Fina Ferro, a student of Luis Rubenstein…in 1942, inspite of a large difference in age, they married and moved to the neighborhood of Almagro…Carlos Bahr would pen the words to some of the most beloved tangos in history including “Manana Irè Temprano”, perhaps his best work, which would be hits for Raul Iriarte, Julio Sosa and Osvaldo Fresedo…others include “Cada Dia Te Estrano Mas” and “Corazon No Le Hagas Caso”



1949, September 19 – BIRTH OF SALLY POTTER

She had a dream; to become a film director…a beguiling voice beckoned teenager Sally Potter’s gentle, sensitive nature…she was restless; she felt as if she was wasting her time but her options were limited; she had no money…what to do…one day she made a decision, to the astonishment of everyone around her, she courageously quit school and joined the London Film Makers Co-Op…and then she had a unique insight; inspired by a comment by celebrated French film critic Andre Bazin that “the essence of cinema is movement”, she decided to study dance and choreography; she enrolled at the London School of Contemporary Dance…in time would emerge one of the most visionary and creative film directors in the history of film…a polymath of film, she wrote, directed, produced, composed, danced, choreographed and starred in her films succeeding  in fiercely competitive and often closed world…


At the age of 19 she began to be noticed with two short films “Jerk” and “Play”; others were to follow continuing to hone her skills and becoming more adept at transferring her vision on to celluloid…it finally all came together for “Orlando” which premiered in 1992…based on a Virginia Wolf novel by the same name it was nominated for two academy awards and won 25 international awards…noted film critic Roger Ebert said of the film, “it was directed with sly grace and quiet elegance”…her next film “The Tango Lesson” came out of her passionate love of tango awaked in her by the music of Astor Piazzolla…its success helped spur the world-wide reawakening of the tango boom…for this film, largely autobiographical, she directed, wrote, starred, danced and even sang the final song of the film…she discovered dancer Pablo Veron who today is probably the best known tango dancer in the world…she said of the film, “I wanted to create authenticiy…to get very close to the bone, to the skin of what tango is”


1935, September 17 – TANGO TATIANA IS RECORDED !

“Tango Tatiana” was one of the most beautiful tangos recorded by the team of composer Oscar Strok and singer Piotr Leszczenko…both Oscar and Piotr would be called “The King of Tango” in their own right…Oscar Strok was born in Dinaburg Latvia, the youngest of eight children born into a jewish musical family…he excelled in his piano studies at the St Petersburg Conservatory and began working in theater productions and cinema…he would compose over 300 tangos and composed music for jewish poets who wrote in Yiddish…while his most creative period was during his stay in Riga, Latvia, he also lived in Paris and Berlin…during World War II he was a member of the “Frontline Concert Brigades” which was a particular soviet vehichle which took entertainers from many disciplines to the frontlines to entertain the troops and lift morale…after the war, western popular music was banned including his tangos which were being played by orchestras all over the world…Pyotr Leshchenko was the king of Russian tango; his rendition of “Serdtse”, the best known non-Spanish tango in history, sold millions of copies all over the world…he was born of a citizen of the Russian empire in Isaevo in Kherson Guberniya, now part of Ukraine into a poor, illiterate, peasant family…


As a child he sang in the church choir and learned to play the guitar and the balalaika…after the World War I, he worked in restaurants serving and washing dishes and playing small roles in theater…after taking ballet lessons in Paris he started performing with his fist wife Zinaida Zakit…their act was a mixture of ballet, folklore and European tango which was so popular that they toured far and wide with their act including Egypt, Turkey, Germany and Briton…it was in Riga, Latvia when his wife was pregnant and he was performing alone that he improvised tango singing and was surprised at how much the crowd liked it; that launched him into a career as a highly popular tango singer selling millions of records…he was greatly influenced by the legendary Polish tango composer Jerzy Petersburski who would die in a nazi concentration camp…Pyotr opened the famous Leshchenko Cabaret in Bucharest where he sang and danced tango…he longed to return to his beloved Russia but he and his wife were finally arrested accused of being counter-revolutionary sympathizers…she would spend many years in the Soviet gulag believing her famous husband to be dead while he was languishing in Romanian prison where he finally died not realizing that his beloved Vera was still alive


1936, September 10 – PREMIERE OF “RADIO BAR”

Director Manuel Romero was not a nice person…like Carlos Di Sarli, he had a terrible temper and was difficult to work for….he tended to work frenetically, writing as he went along and finishing a film as soon as possible; perhaps he was motivated by his considerable gambling debts…he was immensely prodigious in his career; he was to make 53 films…he relied on the same formula: simple, heart-wrenching scripts complete with the poor boy in love with a rich girl who is being pursued by the cavalier son of the local tycoon all of it contrasted by a good dose of comedy and lots of tangos; the critics hated it, the people loved it…Romero (born Sept 21, 1891 Virgo), son of impoverished Andalusian immigrants, began as a teenage journalist at the mythical “Fray Mocho”…


He penned the lyrics to some of the most beloved tangos including “Aquel Tapado De Armino”, “Buenos Aires” and “Tomo Y Obligo” which was the last tango that Carlos Gardel sang before his tragic death in Medellin…he was also a successsful playwriter producing around 180 plays…Radio Bar, considered one of his best films, was a parade of the most popular radio stars of the day… it is a comedy set in a radio studio and night club satirizing radio sponsors… the film was conceived as a vehicle for catapulting singer Alberto Vila  into Gardelian like, international success and indeed critics liked him very much…like Sir Ivan Wilzig, Vila was a banker who became a singer…Vila was a bank official in Montevideo who loved to sing and one day, to his astonishment, he won an audition to become the singer for the group Atienenses…he would eventually leave show business at the height of a successful career to become a businessman…Radio Bar features the orchestra of renown violinist Elvino Vardaro including a 22 year old Anibal Troilo


  • CLICK HERE –  to see a clip from“Radio Bar” in which Gloria Guzman sings with Juan Carlos Thorry

2002, August 29 – PREMIERE OF “FRIDA”

“I penetrate the sex of the whole earth…its heat embraces me and in my body everything feels like the freshness of tender leaves …it’s dew is the sweat of an always new lover …it is not love, nor affection, it is the whole of life”…thus wrote Frida Kahlo in her diary during recovery from one of her numerous surgerys and three heart breaking miscarriages…at age 18 the bus she was riding collided with a trolley and a piece of metal entered her pelvis and exited at her vagina; her back was broken in three places…miraculously she survived and she poured her pain and disappointment into her paintings…in the latter part of her life the suffering increased; first her foot was amputated and then her leg and then numerous operations on her back, courageously she wrote, “feet, what do I need them for when I have wings”…but bedridden for a year she was deeply depressed and contemplated suicide but she stayed on for Diego Rivera who needed her maternal sustenance …she knew she was dying and wrote, “I hope to exit with joy and to never come back”…she was fascinating and seductive and enchanted the likes of Picasso and Andre Breton…


She seduced Leon Trotsky who had sought asylum in Mexico; shortly after he was murdered by Stalin’s agents…it was not entirely clear that she and Diego had not been involved in the assassination…Diego had told her that he was a womanizer when they married and she accepted it; she had her own affairs with both men and women…but when she discovered the affair with her own sister, it was more than she could handle….they divorced and she turned to alcohol…eventually they both realized that they irrevocably bonded and remarried…interestingly, both Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were descendants of jews; she on her father’s side from Hungarian Jews who had immigrated to Germany and then Mexico…Diego was the descendant of Spanish nobility which had been “marranos”; jews who had pretended to convert to Catholicism…Salma Hayek, who played Frida in the film, believed passionately in the project and struggles for eight years to have it produced…it also starred Mia Maestro who had starred in Carlos Sauras “Tango” in 1998, Antonio Banderas and  Alfred Molina as Diego Rivera…the film, which was nominated for six oscars, includes a very sensual scene where Frida dances a tango with another woman



The lyrics, written by Jose Maria Sune say,“tell me what happened….there is an anger between us…it is no longer the same..we are still together but our love is dying…what happened”…Roberto Ruffino began singing in the Cafe O’Rondeman, the same one that launched Carlos Gardel…his major break came in 1938 when an agent for Carlos Di Sarli, happened to hear Ruffino singing and liked what he heard; he recommended him to Di Sarli..his first recording with Di Sarli, “Corazon” which he recorded that same year was a hit as was “Alma Mia” which he recorded the year after…Roberto Ruffino was 18 years old and making sums of money he never dreamed of…In 1944 he launched a solo career debuting on Radio Belgrano…he had brief stints with the  Francini-Pontier, Miguel Calo and Anibal Troilo orchestras…Ruffiino was also an accomplished composer and lyricist of popular tangos like Sonemos which was recorded by Hugo Duval with the Rodolfo Biagi orchestra and “El Bazar de Los Jugetes” which was recorded by Alberto Podestà with the Miguel Calò orchestra.


Miguel Nijensohn, composer of “Decime Que Paso” was born into a jewish family from Latvia where his father Colman, a militant socialist was persecuted and eventually forced to emigrate…in Buenos Aires Colman opened a baker’s shop…in 1916 Colman was badly wounded by a gunman who may have been sent from St Petersburg to assasinate him….at the age of 16 Miguel formed his first tango group with a then 13 year old Anibal Troilo…Miguel was to have a dramatic life with his wife Raquel…the brothers of Miguel’s lover blackmailed him and he tried to leave; Raquel followed him and threatened suicide…they eventually separated and he went to live in Chicago….he and Raquel eventually reconciled and they moved to Mar De Plata, Argentina where one cold winter’s evening they died from breathing stove gas; it was never clear if it had in fact been a dyadic suicide pact



The mythical “Cafe Nacional”, the cathedral of tango, until 1916 was known as “Cafe LLoveras” where famed Argentine chess master Maximo Abramhson held court…it is here that Osvaldo Pugliese debuted with singer Amadeo Mandarino, his first orchestra on August 11, 1939…because of his communist sympathies, he was persecuted by the Juan Peron regime…during his periodic incarcerations his orchestra would continue performing but 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 was a shoe repairman but who loved music…it was he who gave young Osvaldo his  first violin lesson; Osvaldo would later switch to the age of 16 he was hired by Paquita Bernardo, the first professional female bandoneonist in Argentina, to play in her sextet…


Osvaldso Pugliese was a highly principled man with a strong sense of social justice…among his activities, he was an organizer of workers’ strikes and even looked after the welfare of the terribly exploited prostitutes…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.”