Archive for the ‘ Bandoneon ’ Category

1880, November 18 – BIRTH OF JUAN MAGLIO “PACHO”

Composer, Leader, Bandoneonist (Scorpio) – in the 1910s when people went into a record shop they merely said “give me a ‘Pacho’”…Juan Maglio “Pacho” sold so many records that his name was synonymous with buying a record…..he was one of a handful of true early pioneers of tango; it is estimated that he composed over 900 tangos among them immortal hits like “El Lloron”, “Viejo Smoking” and the waltz “Orillas Del Plata”…his father Pantaleon was an Italian immigrant who settled in the neighborhood of Palermo; Pacho one of eight children…Pantaleon played the bandoneon but he forbade his accident prone son to touch it…one evening he found Pacho secretly playing it and in a fit of rage he called him a “pazzo” or crazy in italian…when the neighborhood kids tried to say “pazzo” it came out “pacho”; it was to stick with him for the rest of his life…he taught the first woman bandoneon player in history, the mythical,  Paquita Bernardo

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At the age of 18 he debuted with a trio at the Cafe Vasco in Barracas…later his group played at La Paloma Cafe which had just recently opened; Pacho would laugh years later recounting how the rats would scurry when they began to play….in 1912 his major break came when he was given a recording contract with Colombia Records; it was that same year that he composed his first tango “El Zurdo”…in 1929 he hired an uncertain, 15-year-old boy who walked in lugging his bandoneon; that boy, would one day become the legendary Anibal Troilo…on July 11 1934 in dire pain and weakened condition he was helped into the studios of Radio Belgrano; it was to be his last performance…three days later he would succumb to lung cancer the result of smoking 6 black tobacco cigarettes per day…on his desk were found several unfinished compositions which he apparently was trying desperately up to the last moment of his life.

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1907, October 28 – BIRTH OF MIGUEL CALO

Growing up in a poor family of 16 children, intense and sensitive Miguel, the eldest, was nevertheless a determined child; he learned soon enough to fight and to overcome…this along with rare musical gifts would one day make him a legend but his hard early years would also help make him a compassionate and generous person and when he finally passed away at the age of 65 from a massive heart attack, he was eulogized by his grateful musicians and his adoring wife and children…his parent were immigrants from Puglia, in South Italy…Puglia was originally part of the ancient Greek Empire and in fact the name “Calò” comes from the Greek word “kalos” which means “beautiful”…Miguel attended only elementary school dropping out to work as a delivery boy to help the family finances…however, what Miguel and his six brothers (10 of the children were girls) had inherited from their father and grandfather back in Puglia was musical talent…Miguel (Scorpio) bought his first musical instrument, an old violin, with his meager savings; later an uncle gave him a bandoneon to which he devoted himself with passion…in his neighborhood of Balvanera, in Buenos Aires, a local musician encouraged the shy Miguel to play in public…

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Miguel invited a pianist friend to join him in an audition at the Independence Cinema in their neighborhood…the owner of the cinema was delighted at the enthusiastic applause of the public and gave Miguel an 18 month contract at 250 pesos a month which for the times was a huge sum of money…Miguel promptly gave the money to his father to help the famly…at the age of 20 Miguel Calò was hired by the Francisco Pracanico Orchestra whose singer was a young Azucena Maizani…the year after that he joined the Osvaldo Fresedo Orchestra with which he toured the United States…still in his early 20s he formed his first orchestra; it was the beginning of a glorious career of uninterrupted accomplishments…his first recording “Milonga Portena” was a tango of his own composition…other personal compositions were “Jamas Retorneras” and “Que Te Importa Que Te Llore” which were both great hits for his most representative singer Raul Beron...many great musicians and singers would pass through his ranks including Osmar Maderna, Osvaldo Pugliese, Enrique Francini, Roberto Ruffino, Carlos Roldan, Jorge Ortiz and Raul Iriarte…his was fond of saying to his musicians as he selflessly encouraged them to strike out on their own, “everything in life is a cycle….when one ends, another begins”

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1976, October 12 – J. FALCON DEBUTS WITH HECTOR VARELA ORCHESTRA

People loved to tell the story that in heaven Jorge Falcon and Hector Varela shook hands and played mischievous pranks on the angels….there had been a mystical bond between the two, the grand orchestra leader and his shy, handsome talented singer…in fact it was when Hector Varela took in Jorge Falcon that his career began to bloom and his fame began to skyrocket…his was a meteoric rise ending abruptly at the age of 37 when, an advanced cancer, caused him to  faint while driving; he died in the hospital the next day leaving behind a young wife and son…Jorge Falcon had fought valiantly from the moment he was diagnosed with the cancer and he put up a confident front to his beloved wife Alicia Capuzzo…Jorge’s precocious talent was recognized early and encouraged by supporting parents; still only a child he was invited to sing in Parque Chacabuco neighborhood festivals where he was born…

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He made his first recording at the age of 13…soon after, out of hundreds of contestants, he won a singing contest on TV station 7 by singing “Malevo”…he had brief engagements with a number of orchestras but it was with the one lead  by Gabriel “Chula” Clausi that he had his first successful recording,  “Desecho De Amor”…in 1977, with Hector Varela he had his first major hit, the milonga, “Azucar, Pimieta Y Sal” composed by bandoneonist Tito Rossi…it is said that it was out of a deep fatherly love for the Jorge, that Hector Varela fired him so that he might reach his full potential as a soloist…in fact, in the opinion of critics, his best recording was “El Amor Desolado” and it was one he made as a soloist….Jorge Falcon had had the first symptoms of his cancer when, during a performance in Rosario, Argentina, he fainted…he underwent state of the art treatment but in the end he succumbed on July 2, 1987…his mentor Hector Varela, himself mentored by the legendary Juan D’arienzo, joined him just a few months later

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1910, September 24 – DOMINGO SANTA CRUZ DEBUTS AT “LA MOROCHA” CAFE

Composer, Leader, Bandonist (Libra) – He debuted at the Cafe La Morocha with a quartet which included his brother Juan on piano…Inspired by the colorful Uruguayan revolutionary activist Aparicio Saravia da Rosa, Domingo Santa Cruz wrote the tango “Union Civica”; it was an immediate hit and continues to be recorded and played in milongas one hundred years later…at the time that he wrote it, he had to hum it to a friend at the piano, as he was totally uneducated in music…he was to write other popular tangos like ”Hernani”, “El Viejo”, “Una Duda”….at age 15 he had an accident, while closing a warehouse door a thick iron bar fell on his face landing on his leg; it was to leave him with a permanent limp and for the rest of his life he would be known affectionately as el “El Rengo…he was born in the neighborhood of El Once, in Buenos Aires…his father had fought in the war in Paraguay and was later a railroad foreman; in his moments of leisure he would play a small bandoneon which he had acquired in  pawn shop for a few pesos…

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From the moment the toddler Domingo, strong-willed in character, touched that bandoneon he was entranced with its sound and he would become an accomplished bandoneonist practically self taught…as a young man he found his first work playing in the neighborhood hangouts, La Morocha Cafe, El Cafe Atenas, the Cafe Tupi Namba in Montevideo often accompanied by his brother who was an accomplished pianist…eventually he and his brother opened a dance school , The Santa Cruz Academy of Popular Dances, where they would sponsor joyous tango dance contests often announced with great fanfare; the prize was more often than not, a handsome tailor-made suit provided by a neighborhood  tailor..Domingo had only one serious vice, he was a heavy smoker and he began to have health problems associated with it..doctors eventually told him that he had an intestinal tumor and that he would have to undergo surgery…a charity event to raise money for his medical expenses was held at which the best musicians of the day performed for free…nevertheless, during recovery broncopheumonia set in and he passed away at the age of 47

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1905, September 23 – BIRTH OF FRANCISCO FIORENTINO

Emily Dickinson had said it, “Fame is a fickle food upon a shifting plate”  and indeed Francisco Fiorentino,“Fiore” (Virgo), had been struggling for a number of years now…his career, from the glorious days of fame and fortune with the Anibal Troilo orchestra, had been in steady decline…but finally a breakthrough had come, Anibal Troilo, his old mentor, had invited him to record with his renown quartet, “it is the break I have been praying for” he confided to a friend..and so it was with renewed hope that he departed to the city of Mendoza where he would sing at a charity event..on the evening of the 10th of September 1955, Francisco Fiorentino sang before an enthusiastic crowd…it was the morning of 11 September when he and his musicians finally left the dance hall and someone suggested that some time could be saved by taking a short cut on the gravel road instead of following the main highway…30 minutes into the drive, after having crossed a bridge, the car suddenly skidded on the gravel and slid into the river which at this time of the year contained little water…in a tragic case of bad luck, the side on which Fiore was a passenger happened to land in a puddle of muddy water..Fiore was knocked unconscious and his torso remained under water and he drowned…he was 49 years old

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Francisco Fiorentino was born in the neighborhood of San Telmo in Buenos Aires to a musical family which had emigrated from the ancient fishing village of Giovinazzo, in the state of Puglia in Southen Italy…as a child “Fiore” began studying the bandoneon and envisioned a career playing in an orchestra…he was barely more than a child when he began playing the bandoneon  alongside his brother Vicente, a violinist, in silent movie theaters…it was with the Francisco Canaro orchestra, that he discovered his talent for singing as well as playing the bandoneon and in fact he would be one of only a handful of musicians who would also sing as well as play…he would have this dual role, bandoneon player and singer in a number of orchestras including Juan Carlos Cobian, Pedro Maffia and Juan D’arienzo…it was however, during his six years with Anibal Troilo, that his fame as a singer would emerge…later he would create his own orchestra and hire a young Astor Piazzolla to arrange and lead the group

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1914, July 11 – BIRTH OF ANIBAL TROILO

Leader, Bandoneonist, Composer (Cancer)…He sacrificed his life to his art and there were many regrets…one of those was never having had any children…his beloved wife Ida was eternally devoted to him although he belonged more to the nights and the glasses of whiskey…Horacio Ferrer called him, ” a man of true class and elegance”…but above all he was a gifted musician even though no one in his family was musical…his father was a butcher who died when Anibal was only eight years old; he was brought up with much sacrifice by his mother Felisa whom he never forgot…toward the end of his career, his body wracked by abuse, in an interview he said, “you know I never left my neighborhood, not really…I never really left my mother and I am always returning to her”...it was she who, with much sacrifice, bought him his first bandoneon; 140 pesos in 14 installments, he was ten years old…the poet Julian Centeya would one day call him “the best bandoneon player in Buenos Aires”…his first public performance was at the age of eleven in the Abasto Market at the Petit Colon Cinema…

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At the age of 14 he formed a quintet; at 16 he was part of the renown sextet of violinist Elvino Vardaro with Osvaldo Pugliese at the piano…later he would play with some of the greats, Juan Maglio “Pacho”, Juan D’arenzo and Angel D’agostino…toward the end of his life, he would recall 1937 with nostalgia; that was the year that he put together his own orchestra and the year that, in a night club, he met a shy hat girl, Ida Calachi whom he would marry and who would become his beloved partner for the rest of his life...the following year he made his first recording “Come Il Faut” by Eduardo Arolas …but Troilo, a master of pauses, was also an accomplished composer of some immortal hits like  ”Toda Mi Vida”, “Barrio de Tango”, “Garua”, “Sur”, “Romance del Barrio”,“La Ultima Curda”, “Mari…at the age of 18 he appeared in his first film “Los Tres Berretines”…others included the celebrated “Radio Bar” which premiered  in 1936 when he was part of the Elvino Vardaro orchestra…in the movie “El Tango Vuelve A Paris” which premiered in 1948  he has an acting roll…he died of cerebral hemorrhage and cardiac arrest at the Hospital Italiano with Ida at his side

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1921, June 26 – THE “ECOLE DE FOUNTAINEBLEU” OPENS !

Nadia Boulanger was one of the great women of the 20th century…one of her students called her, “the most influential teacher since Socrates”…when “L’ecole De Fountainbleu” opened in Paris on June 26, 1921 she was its first teacher…among her hundreds of students were legends like Aaron Copeland, Philipp Glass, Quincy Jones, Dinu Lapatti,  and Igor Markevitch…one day in walked a young Astor Piazzolla his soul brimming with Mozart and Bach and dreaming of a classical music future but when he played one of his tango compositions she screamed at him…“You idiot, that’s Piazzolla”…looking back on a story book career many years later he would say “in a mere matter of ten seconds, she had sent to hell ten years of work”…more than any one else, it was Nadia Boulanger, who was responsible for the eventual emergence of the genius Astor Piazzolla…Nadia Boulanger came from a family of accomplished musicians; her grandfather Frederic Boulanger was a renown cellist in the 1790s…her father Ernest Boulanger was a composer, violinist and pianist

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While performing in Russia, he met a young Russian princess Raisaa  Myschetsky whom he would later marry; she was twenty and he was 62 years old…out of the marriage would be born two daughters, Nadia and Lilli…when her father died unexpectedly, Nadia was forced to begin teaching at the age of thirteen to help support the family…it was an activity which she would continue in the same family house for the next seventy-five years…it is said that one day in walked George Gershwin but when he played she rejected him as a student saying to him, “I have nothing to teach you”….one her of her first students was her sister Lilli who was early on recognized as a musical prodigy but Lilli was of frail health and died at age 24; Nadia would never quite recover from the pain….she was the first woman to conduct several major symphony orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, The Boston Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra…she was fond of saying, “the essential condition of everything you do is choice, love, passion”

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  • CLICK HERE – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ur7SoOVRhk to see Nadia Boulnager teach a ten-year old child prodigy  Emile Naoumoff who was Nadia’s last disciple and would go on to become a renown concert pianist