Archive for the ‘ Bandoneon ’ Category


Composer, Leader, Bandoneonist (Capricorn) – as soon as Juan Peron came into power, Alfredo Attadia, declared himself an ardent Peronist and thus gave a great surge forward to his career; this was to have dire consequences for him years later when Peron was overthrown in 1954…he would find himself, like so many other artists, blacklisted and exiled; in the case of legendary poet  Enrique Santos Discepolo for example, it would hasten a premature death from a broken heart…..but this would come later, for now he was summoned to cut the tangos “Descamisados” and the march “Peronista” to be used for political propaganda by the Peron regime… a period of rapid ascendancy commenced; there was a lucrative contract with Radio Belgrano, performances at the chic Dancing Ocean Club and at the legendary Cabaret Moulin Rouge.. . in Montevideo his notoriety took a great jump forward when he began playing at the historic café El Ateneo


He was born in the neighborhood of San Andres in the town of San Martin which is just outside of Buenos a young Piazzolla, as a young boy he was mesmerized by the sound of the bandoneon; his father reluctantly bought him his first one…he had envisioned a professional career for his beloved son…eventually through  a family friend, young and shy Alfredo garnered an audition for an all girl’s orchestra and he was hired; at the age of 17 he debuted with them at the Cafe Paris…this was the start of a grand career including stints with some the best tango groups in history , Alfredo MalerbaAngelo D’Agostino and Rodolfo Biaggi for whom he wrote his first arrangements….with a young and ambitious Alfredo Di Angelis he formed his first orchestra which they called “Tipica Florida”…among his numerous compositions, perhaps his best was “Tres Esquinas” which he composed with Angel D’Agostino and was a great hit for vocalist Angel Vargas




Perhaps his tragic ending was somehow foretold in his moving, heart wrenching music; tangos like “Trenzas”, “Corazon No Le Hagas Caso”, “Cada Dia Te Estrano Mas”; he was to compose many beloved tangos in his career…Armando Pontier was born on August 29, 1917 (Virgo) in the town of Zarate just outside of Buenos Aires to a very poor family…his dream was to play piano but that was too expensive…one day, to the thrill of young Armando, his father showed up with a bargain bandoneon which he had bought from a street vendor for a few pesos…with considerable sacrifice, he enrolled him in the Juan Ehlert music school where he befriended two other boys who themselves would become legends of tango, Enrique Francini and Hector Stamponi


All three were invited by maestro Ehlert to play in his personal musical ensemble…it is with Francini that he formed his first orchestra…their major break came when they were invited to play for the grand opening of “Tango Bar” on September 1, 1945…a key event in his career occurred when Radio Belgrano invited him form a staff orchestra; he was to have a 10 year-long association with that station…his period with the Miguel Calo orchestra was an especially fecund one for him, producing some of his most important work…he was especially smitten with the culture of Japan; he made two successful tours there…fourteen of his compositions in collaboration  with Anibal Troilo, were recorded by Roberto Goyeneche….depression was a problem that he had battled with for many years; for mysterious reasons, the pain of existence was difficult for him to bear…on Christmas Day of 1983, this time he was not able to silence the voices that haunted him and he took his own life…about tango he was to say, “tango is no accident…a person who loves tango, had tango in him when he was still in his mother’s womb”


1916, December 8 – BIRTH OF ERNESTO “TITI” ROSSI

Composer, Leader, Bandoneonista (Sagittarius) – in 1960 he reluctantly agreed to accompany singer Alberto Marino on a three-month tour of the United States; but in one evening’s performance in a  New York night club, the passion and the dexterity with which he played his bandoneon attracted the attention of a broadway musical director who invited him to join his orchestra…he ended up being the soloist in Metro’ and along the way remained in New York for eight years…Ernesto “Titti” Rossi was born in Guamini, a province of Buenos Aires to an Italian immigrant family of musicians…his father was a bandleader and his first teacher…by the age of 10 the precocious  Ernesto was proficient in violin and trumpet but his true love was the bandoneon to which he would devote his whole life….young Ernesto had always demonstrated courage and independence not always to the delight of his stern father and at the age of  12, along with his brother Carlos who was a singer, he made his move to the big city, to Buenos Aires to seek his fame and fortune…


He auditioned at the legendary Radio Belgrano where because of his age they at first refused to consider him but Ernesto’s determination and talent finally earned him a seat on the staff one of his engagements there, the orchestra leader Nicolas Vacarro happened to hear the young Ernesto and was immediately impressed and asked him to join his orchestra…the incredulous Ernesto found himself playing at the elegant “Dancing Novelty” night club…from here he was then recruited by Antonio Rodio for his renown performances at Radio El Mundo and Radio Splendido…the seminal event in his career however was to occur in 1956 when he became the arranger for the ascendant orchestra of Hector Varela with whom he would have a long association…he was a prolific composer and had a number of hits like “No Me Hablen De Ella“ (do not mention her to me) sung by Rodolfo Lessica with the Hector Varela orchestra…his milonga “Azucar Pimienta Y Sal” was an immediate hit and continues to be played today in milongas around the world…he finally left New York to return to his beloved to Buenos Aires where his final days were spent teaching and was much admired and respected by his students.


1924, December 5 – STAGE PREMIERE OF “EL CIEGO”

In the early part of the century, stage plays were the preferred method of entertainment and it was also the preferred setting to debut a new tango…a successful debut of a new tango in a stage play could mean fame and fortune for its composer…this was exactly the dream of composer Antonio Scatasso when he premiered his tango “El Ciego” in the play “Chi Lo Sa” written by Cesar Bourel which premiered at the Apollo Theater in Buenos Aires…Antonio Scatasso born February 28, 1886 (Pisces) In Naples Italy had very little education and in fact he was a rough, aggressive, uncouth person but he was also a musical prodigy…


At the age of four his poor family had emigrated to Buenos Aires in the hope of a better life…Antonio learned to play the mandolin, the guitar and the bandoneon with almost no training of any kind; later he would also become a composer of simple and melodic tangos much beloved by the public especially theater audiences…his first professional debut, around 1907, was with the mandolin alongside violinist and future legend, Francisco Canaro…later he performed at the Cafe El Parque but this time on bandoneon which he had mastered…in 1933 he met Ignacio Corsini at the Teatro Smart; a long and productive collaboration was to ensue including memorable performance at the Radio Nacion….he was always close to the theater, toward the end of his life in management…among his numerous compositions were some great hits for some of which he not only composed the music but wrote the lyrics as well



The story is told of a young lady present at pianist Linda Lee Thomas’s performance of “Invierno Porteno” who was so moved by the music that she burst into sobs….Inspired by Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, “Invierno Porteno” (Winter in Buenos Aires) is the second of Astor Piazzolla’s “Cuatro Estaciones Portenas” (The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires) which was written over a period of six years in the 1960s and which has caught the attention of world-wide audiences…in fact classical music orchestras are beginning to program “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires”, alongside those of Vivaldi’s…for example in the year 2000, renown violinist Gidon Kremer, released a highly acclaimed album called “Vivaldi and Piazzolla, Eight Seasons”…of  the four, Invierno Porteno is perhaps the most beloved of Piazzolla’s quartet…recently Japanese World champion skater, Daisuke Takahashi clinched the Grand Prix NHK Trophy with an inspired performance skating to “Invierno Porteno”


Astor Piazzolla, an only child, was born on March 11, 1921 (Pisces) in Mar De Plata Argentina…when he was four years old, the family moved to New York City where at the age of eight, his father bought him his first bandoneon …in 1936 the family moved back to Mar De Plata and it is here that Astor began to play in a number of tango orchestras….Carlos Gardel was a friend of the family and in fact Astor played the part of a paper boy in his film “El Dia Que Me Quieras”… day he happened to hear Elvino Vardaro’s Sextet on the radio and his alternativeways of interpreting tango was to have a great influence on him…in 1954 he was awarded a scholarship by the French government and he went to Paris to study under Nadia Boulanger who, after hearing him play tango says to him “Here is the true Piazzolla, never let him go, do not abandon your roots”…with its elements of jazz and classical music Tango Nuevo is born


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…


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


  • CLICK HERE – 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


Composer, Leader, Bandoneonist (Sagittarius) – curiously he had composed “Gitana Rusa” ten years earlier in his struggling years and it had been first recorded by Osvaldo Fresedo but when he recorded it with his own orchestra in 1957 it was a major hit…Juan Sanchez Gorio was born in Spain to a poor family which moved to San Nicolas just outside of Buenos Aires when he was four years old…from the first time he heard the bandoneon on the streets of Buenos Aires, he was mesmerized by its sound and he implored his father to let him take lessons…his talent was such that at the age of 13 he had formed his first trio and a little later he was recruited by Alberto Pugliese, Osvaldo Pugliese‘s brother…


At the age of 20 he formed his own orchestra; his first break came when he was hired by Radio Splendido…in 1943 he formed his first which with its rhythmical style suitable for dancing made it very fashionable; he had his first taste of fame and financial reward…On august 18 1944 he recorded his first disc; on one side a tango of his own composition“Oriente” on the other  the waltz “Claveles Mendocinos” composed by Alfredo Pelaia…it was an important hit at a key moment in his career…he had a successful 20 year run before the advent of the rock era in the 60s that sent tango into hibernation..he passed away unexpectedly at the age of 58