Archive for the ‘ Pianist ’ Category


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


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 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.”


  • CLICK HERE – 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


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)…


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



Composer, Leader, Pianist (Libra) – tragically he died very young, at the age  of 27, from lung disease but in his brief life he composed some tango which have made his name eternal….born in Buenos Aires, already as a child a great career was whispered about, of this oddly precocious, intense student…not to be confused with the Roberto Goyeneche, “El Polaco”, who interestingly would record a great hit many years later with his namesake’s tango“Pompas”


As a young boy, he began playing piano for silent films at the Cabildo Theater and in the small cafes in the outskirts of Buenos Aires…he began to be invited to play with prestigious orchestras like that of  Eduardo Arolas in important venues like the Cafe T.V.O., the Cafe Marconi and the Cafe Gambaudi….in 1922 he was invited to accompany  the Muino-Alippi Theater Companyon a tour of Spain…upon his return from Europe he put together his first orchestra which debuted at the Las Heras y Pueyrredon Plaza to great acclaim…about this time the first symptoms of his disease appeared and against  which he fought valiantly but his deteriorating condition embittered him and he became difficult to work with…sadly he was to lose the fight and he succumbed finally in the city of Cordova…some of his tangos were recorded by names like Rosita Quiroga, Ignacio Corsini and Carlos Gardel who made an acclaimed recording of his “Pobre Vieja”


  • CLICK HERE – to hear Roberto Goyeneche sing his great hit “Pompas” written by his namesake Roberto Goyheneche (not the added letter “H” in the composer’s name)


“God help you” say the lyrics of  “Compadron” to a local tough guy whose conceit and swagger are only foolish and amount to nothing...”you are uncouth and uneducated and all your conceit will not deter you from a lonely and destitute old age”…written by the legendary Enrique Cadicamo, this would be one of his masterpieces that to our very day is played in milongas the world over…Cadicamo, arguably the greatest tango lyicist of all time, based the lyrics on a real life character who frequented the Cafe Paulista in the neighborhood of “Flores”…his first tango “Pompas De Jabon” with music by Roberto Goyeneche was recorded by Carlos Gardel…interestingly, Cadicamo’s great hit “Madam Yvonne” was Gardel’s last tango recorded in Argentina before his tragic death in an airplane crash…Compadron was composed by pianist Luis Visca; this was to be the greatest hit of his career…it was originally premiered by Sofia Bozan at the Teatro Comedia in Rosario, Argentina…


Carlos Gardel happened to be in the audience and was amazed at the audience response whereupon he decided to record it himself…Cadicamo was such a good friend to Luis Visca that, once on a day preceding a trip to Spain, he asked Cadicamo if he should marry…Cadicamo quoted St. Paul who says of marriage, “the man who marrys must behave well”…on the day of the departure, to Cadicamo’s surprise, Luis showed up, proudly brandishing his passport and saying, “I am coming with you”….Luis Visca, sensitive, fragile afflicted with bouts of depression, locked himself in his cabin for the trip and hardly ate…his career would include playing with a number of orchestras including that of Juan D’arienzo and his appearance in a number of film include being the back up pianist for Alberto Gomez as he sings “Alma” in the classic Moglia Barth film “Tango” which premiered in 1933


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



It was with much trepidation that he finally made his move at he age of 32 to launch his own orchestra…it was a gutsy move; Argentina was in the midst of the “Infamous Decade”; a period marked by fraud and political persecution against a backdrop of world-wide depression…the population of Buenos Aires had doubled with the influx of destitute farmers who had lost everything; it is they who would provide the basis of Peronism in the next decade…the competition among orchestras was fierce; there was an abundance of excellent musicians especially among the Italian immigrants who were naturally gifted musicians…but Rodolfo Biagi had paid his dues and he had learned much especially during his tenure with his friend and mentor the legendary Juan D’arienzo…in his brief three years with the Juan D’arienzo orchestra, his innovative beat on piano would help usher in “danceable tango”  and reinvigorate tango in the forties by appealing to young people…Rodolfo Biagi was born in the neighborhood of San Telmo, Buenos Aires to struggling Italian immigrants


He caused a family crisis when at the end of grammar school, young Rodolfo insisted on leaving school; his parent reluctantly agreed but they enrolled him in the conservatory of the newspaper “La Prensa” to study piano…being strong willed and independent, at the age of thirteen, without his parents’ consent he began playing in a silent film cinema…one evening the legendary Juan Maglio (Pacho) happened to be in the cinema and was stunned by the precocious teenager at piano; he eventually accepted him into his orchestra, he was only fifteen…a major break occurred when in 1930 Jose Razzano interceded him backstage to ask him to accompany Carlos Gardel on a series of recordings…soon after he worked with a number of orchestras and along the way composed his first tango “Indeferencia” with lyrics by Juan Carlos Thorry…Rodolfo was a frequent customer of the Cabaret Chantecler where the Juan D’arienzo played nightly…his pianist Lidio Fasoli was notoriously late and one evening D’arienzo could endure no more and on the spot asked Rodolfo to take over at piano……in the long Rodolfo would create one of the greatest tango orchestras in history recording some immortal hits like the waltz “Lagrimas Y Sonrisas” and the tango “Quiero Verte Una Vez Mas” with singer Jorge




His grandfather had been the ill-fated Uruguayan General Cesar Diaz who had led a failed revolution in 1858 and for which he was summarily executed…his father, a postal employee,  was instead a gentle man who loved music and who took his son Fernando Diaz to see the famous singing cowboys, the “payadores”…it is through them that Fernando began to love music and singing…his mother, an accomplished piano player, encouraged him and was his first teacher…with a friend he formed a duo and began to make a name for himself playing in the neighborhood bars and cafes…his first break came at the age of 23 when he was hired to sing with with a theater group at the Teatro Opera; he then progressed to highly popular performances on Radio Belgrano


His first important recording, “No Tenes Perdon De Dios” with Juan Maglio “Pacho” occurred in 1930…although he made two recordings with Carlos Di Sarli, he best period was undoubtedly with the dynamic Neopolitan Francisco Lomuto and his Orchestra; out of 180 numbers that he recorded in his brief career, 170 were with Lomuto…he performed in musical comedies including “La Vuelta De Miss Paris” where he debuted one of his hits,  “Aunque Parezca Mentira”…with the renown Adolfo Carabelli’s “Orchestra Typica Victor” he recorded “Humillacion” and “El Beso De Manuelita” with lyrics by Hector Blomberg…with a different stage name he sang with the Eddie Kay Jazz Group with which he recorded the waltz “Noche De Boda”…but the precarious artistic life was, in the end too much to handle and still young and already famous, he suddenly decided to give it all up to pursue business opportunities and consequently his substantial talent and contributions have largely been forgotten