Archive for the ‘ Musicians ’ Category

1963, February 23 – BIRTH OF CLAUDIA LEVY

Singer, Composer, Poet (Pisces) – the little girl gazed tenderly at her mother who was crying as she was strumming the piano, “He’s not coming back is he mommy?” she asked, “No darling he’s not”, she answered...”well”, said the little girl “lets tear up his tooth-brush”…somehow it was that moment of  a child’s simple vision which set her free; yes it was time to move on…the day would come when she would be grateful for the whole experience for from that day on, she began composing tango…she had fallen madly in love with a boy ten years younger and he had gone to New York on tour…in the begining, his emails were numerous and daily and then gradually more scarse…one day, she boarded a plane to New York to see him and the plane was uncommonly late; an omen…when she finally saw him, as he walked towards her, somehow she knew, “it’s over”Claudia Levy was born in Buenos Aires; her father was jewish and her mother catholic…her mother was a lover of cinema and she would tell little Claudia all about the films’ plots; Claudia credits this early experience as seminal in developing her later love of writing lyrics…

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Early on she demonstrated precocious musical talent and her father promptly enrolled her in the Conservatory Alberto Williams where she studied classical piano…later she studied dance and mime but at a certain point she found her creative soul in tango…along the way, she has made some people angry; she was a pioneer in a new genre, “woman centered tango”, in a world that historically has been very macho…using trademark sarcasm and humor she has brought awareness to the custom, still prevalent in Argentina and other nations, of men beating their wives and in some cases even killing them…her first musical group, a duo, was called “Tangachas”…with her second group, she began making a name for herself and went on a critically acclaimed tour of  Europe…this was followed by her participation in a third group “Munecas Bravas”…her first disc “Mentime Mas” is a compilation of her own compositions and lyrics…her second disc“Escuchame Un Segondo” has received rave reviews from critics and public alike…in one of her celebrated lyrics she says,“go ahead and cry for there is no Christ to save you…cry that crying is good for you…dismount your horse and come to the light of the day for only a coward beats his wife”

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1881, February 19 – BIRTH OF GABINO C. PENALOZA

Descending on his mule from Chilecito, Gabino Penaloza was very alone but at home among the stark, natural beauty of its cliffs and valleys…it had been a particularly wet year and the aromas of nature were strong…nearing the town of Olta the trail became more boggy and in the distant he could hear the bellowing of the river…in fact its banks had overflowed and he was forced to wait for the water level to recede…that evening at the joyous town gathering, was when he first saw the lovely, demure girl playing the piano; in the coming days they would spend much time together and fall in love…finally the water had receded and he could continue on his journey  but he promised he would return as soon as possible…but on the day of his return his beloved was no where to be found….the discovery that she was pregnant had brought great shame to the family and they had spirited her off in a hastily arranged marriage; the year was 1903…it was this crucially painful experience which was to be the inspiration of his poem “Caminito” which in time, along with “El Choclo” and “La Cumparsita” would become one of the three most beloved tangos of all time

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Gabino Corea Penaloza  (Pisces) born in La Paz and from early on he showed an inclination to poetry but at the age of 15 he moved to Buenos Aires where by day he did a number of jobs and by night he wrote poems; in time they would begin to appear in the renown “Caras and Carretas” magazine…he would frequent the cheap cafes and bars where he was friends with aspiring musicians and singers like a young Carlos Gardel and especially Juan de Dios Filiberto who would compose the music for “Caminito” and with whom Gabino would collaborate on several other tangos including two hits, “El Besito” and “El Panuelito”…he would publish three celebrated books of poems some of which would be used by a number of composers…but he had a difficult and trouble ridden life in the big city and at the age of forty-five he followed his heart  to his beloved Chilencito where with his books and poems he lived to the age of 95 haunted to the end by the memories of that beautiful girl playing piano and the son he never met.

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1886, February 17 – BIRTH OF GENARO ESPOSITO

Leader, Composer, Pianist, Bandoneonist (Aquarius) – Genaro was perched precariously on a step-ladder with nail and hammer in hand, concentrating on the hanging of a picture when his guest bellow uttered a phrase that almost made him fall, “would you like to help me organize a group to play in Paris”...little did he suspect what an epic saga his life was about to become…Paris was a dream that a boy born to struggling Neapolitan immigrant parents in the neighborhood of San TelmoBuenos Aires did not dare to have; and yet, here he was on a cruise ship heading toward Paris, the cultural capital of the world…but on the way tragedy struck, the violinist of the group, Victor Jachia, suddenly had a massive heart attack and died…Genaro Esposito was devastated but with typical “porteno” resolve he persevered and survived initially playing in Marseille for spare change…In time his “Orchestre Argentine Genaro Esposito” would become the toast of Paris performing in its most prestigious clubs, ”El Garron”, “Casino de Paris”, the “Coupole Dance Club” and later critically acclaimed European tours

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Genaro would be a big factor in making tango a boom in Paris and therefore the world…in 1934 at the height of success he fell in love with a beautiful young French girl, Jeanne Vent…she rewarded him with the birth of a boy “Claude” of whom Genaro was immensely proud but then tragedy struck for the second time, Jeanne died leaving him to the care of their 11 month old child…he was never quite the same again…on June 14, 1940 the unimaginable happened, the German army entered Paris…interestngly, as they entered they played the San Lorenzo march composed by Cayetano Silva in 1901…a pall descended upon the city….little by little Genaro had to sell everything he owned just to eat; what little money he could earn came from playing his bandoneon for drunken German soldiers on leave from the Russian front……he had an opportunity to return to Buenos Aires but he steadfastly refused, he was a loyal French citizen now and he would stand by her and by his beloved Paris…sadly, the end came on January 24, 1944 when he succumbed to complications from pneumonia; as per his deathbed request, he was buried next to his beloved Jeanne…just seven months later allied forces would liberate Paris…with “Le Marseillaise“ still reverberating in his soul, General Charles de Gaul, in his liberation speech proclaimed, “Paris, Paris!, Paris outraged!, Paris broken!, Paris Martyred! but Paris liberated!.

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1861, February 16 – BIRTH OF ANGEL VILLOLDO

Singer, Lyricist, Guitarist, Pianist, Violinist, Harmonica (Aquarius) – he was a fascinating man, a sort of Ernest Hemingway and Bob Dylan all in one…he was a prolific composer and lyricist having written some of the most beloved tangos in history….his immortal tango “El Choclo” was so ubiquitous that during World War I, German officers wishing to honor a visiting Argentinean dignitary mistakenly played El Choclo believing it to be the national anthem…year later Carlos Disarli would record one of its most successful versions in history…it continues to our very day to be one of the most instantly recognized pieces of music in history and yet when it premiered at the exclusive “El Americano” restaurant in Buenos Aires, the leader of the orchestra had to disguise it by calling it “Danza Criolla” as the owner did not like tango music…Angel Villoldo was born into a destitute family in the neighborhood of Barracas…he quit school early to work and did many types of jobs including teamster, herdsman, topographer, writer and circus clown….

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But he heard music always in his mind and when he was guiding his team of horses through the mud or hostile elements he was composing in his head….he began acquiring fame performing his composition while accompanying himself with guitar and harmonica in the local cafes and bars; in 1889  he published “Cantos Criollos” a book of lyrics meant to be sung with guitar accompaniment….interestingly, he invented the apparatus which allows the playing of the harmonica while strumming the guitar which many years later would become the symbol of a young, tormented Bob Dylan…he wrote a sort of popular comics which were full of wit and sarcasm using the argot from the lowest rung of society…he devised a method of learning to play guitar using symbols called “Metodo America” which he published in 1917…his first tango hit “El Portenito”, was sung by Dorita Miramar in 1903 on the stage of the Parisien Varitè Show featured at the legenday Moulin Rouge…his “Cantar Eterno” was an early hit for the RazzanoGardel duo in 1917…for Gath and Chaves, he traveled to France to use state of the art recording equipment to record tangos and helped popularize tango in France; he wrote the lyrics for “La Morocha” which was the first beloved tango in Europe…and finally, he left as he came, poor, when he was run over by a tram at the age of 58

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1891, February 13 – BIRTH OF IGNACIO CORSINI

Singer, Composer, Poet (Aquarius) – Soccorro Salamone was desperate, for not only was she poor but the blemish of being an unwed mother meant that her young son Ignacio did not have much of a future; his father, a certain “Corsini” had disappeared as soon as he found out that she was pregnant…….these were tough time in the ancient greek town of Troina, Sicily whose historical relics date back to the 7th Millenium BC…40 years later, Troina would be the seat of a famous World War II battle between Nazi and Allied forces commanded by General George S. Patton…..one day, mustering tremendous courage, young Soccorro with little Ignacio in tow, mounted a horse carriage and descended Troina to begin the long journey to Naples where she boarded a ship to Buenos Aires…she settled in the neighborhood of Almagro and began working long hours as a washer woman…when Ignacio was ten years old they moved to the country where the boy began working as a herdsman and ox driver…many years later, reflecting on those long solitary hours in the countryside, Ignacio Corsini, now a famous and successful singer would say, “birds taught me the spontaneity of their singing, in the great scenery of nature…to sing like them, naturally with no effort”…

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Around the age of 17 he met a circus clown Jose Pacheco who introduced him to the theater and by the age of 21 he had already achieved a certain amount of fame and prestige…from Pacheco he obtained one other thing, his daughter Victoria whom he would marry in 1911…in his autobiography he would write that it was, above all, her encouragement during difficult times that was responsible for his success; he would remain loyal to her for his whole life…On May 12, 1922, in the one-act play “El Bailarin del Cabaret”, he premiered “Patotero Sentimental” which was his first major hit…his only composition to become successful was “Tristeza Criolla” which in the 40s was a major hit for singer Angel Vargas…Above all, it was his renditions of the creations of the team of Enrique Maciel as composer and Hector Blomberg as  lyricist which would make his name legendary…the loss of his wife from a debilitating disease left him sad and embittered; she was his whole life…dedicating his performance to her, he sang for the last time on May 28, 1949 on the show “Argentinidad” on Radio Belgrano

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1903 February 7 – BIRTH OF FELICIANO BRUNELLI

Leader, Composer, Pianist, Accordianist (Aquarius) – he was not one to get easily discouraged…his father had taught him to be persistent and there was certainly one area in which he had no lack of self-confident; his musical ability…and so having been refused an audition for having shown up without of an appointment, he stopped in, at the hall of RCA Victor Studios, took out his accordion and began playing his waltz “Illusion de Mi Vida”…everyone looked up immediately and soon he had an enthusiastic crowd surrounding him…hearing the commotion, a producer came out and was amazed at the scene before him…he was given a contract and the very next day, September 9, 1933, Feliciano Brunelli  recorded his waltz “Illusion de Mi Vida” which became a hit….his “Amor Gitano” would become the theme song for the celebrated Glostora Tango Club…Felicano Brunelli was certainly one of the most successful tango musicians in history; he recorded 763 numbers with RCA Victor and would remain popular for over 40  years…he was one of a select few musicians whose picture hung proudly on the “wall of honor” in the main offices in New York City

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He was born in Marseilles, France but his parent were italian immigrants…his father was an accordion tuner and maker of stringed musical instruments…this was however, a time when the racism against Italians was very strong in Mareseille  and when Feliciano was five years old, his father transferred the family to the city of  Rafaela, Argentina in search of a better life for his family…from his father he learned to play the accordion, in Rafaela he took piano lessons and it soon became evident that young Feli had special talent…he began to play with groups in the cafes and clubs in his town while he was still a young teenager and he soon developed a dedicated following…one of his fans recommended him to a producer at the Odeon Record label who promptly summoned the boy for an audition and hired him…Renown violinist Elvino Vardaro was passing through Rafaela and hear about Feliciano and he took him to Buenos Aires, providing lodging in his house and introducing him to the world…in time he would become famous and popular

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1898, February 1 – BIRTH OF JUAN BAUTISTA GUIDO

Leader, Composer, Bandoneonist (Aquarius) – he hated the interminable screeching of wood cutting and the smell of the wood dust which seemed to penetrate everything but his father had found him this job to help their destitute family survive…when he wasn’t a carpenter’s assistant he would help the neighborhood milkman deliver the clanging jars of milk; he became known as “lecherito”, the little milkman; it would stay with him for the rest of his life…he was born in the neighborhood of Parque Patricios in Buenos Aires to a struggling immigrant family….as a little boy he had once picked up an old bandoneon that an uncle had left behind and had played some notes; he was mesmerized by the sound…to the great ire of his father, he quit the carpenter’s shop and started  to devote himself to music…he started to take lessons from Arturo Severino, a renown teacher and composer; by the age of 13 he was so advanced that the maestro invited him to join his personal group…

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In 1913 at the age of 15 he put together his first group, a trio with a violin and guitar which debuted at the Cafe 43 “La Fonda” in Parque Patricios…on its small stage appeared many fledging composers and musicians some of which would reach stardom like Jose Real and Guillermo Barbieri authors of the great hit “Rosa de Otono” (Barbieri would die with Gardel in Medellin in the fiery airplane crash)…word of this “child prodigy” reached the legendary  Samuel Castriota, composer of “Mi Noche Triste” who promptly asked him to join his orchestra at the legendary Cafe Olimpico; he then moved to the famous Casa De Laura with another maestro, Vicente Greco…at the age of 18 he put together a quintet which played at the Cafe La Morocha earning rave reviews…by the age of 28 he had reached  the highest level of his profession and was making more money than he had ever dreamed of …he contracted a Rheumatoid like disease which gradually diminished his ability to work but he nevertheless accepted an offer to tour with the radio program “De Villoldo a Gardel”…in one of  the stops he collapsed right after the performance; the strain on his heart had been too much…among his greatest compositions are “Coquetita”, “Muneca de Carne” (Baby Doll) and “Tarde Gris”..

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