Archive for the ‘ Violinist ’ Category


“Desde El Alma”, Juan D’arienzo’s first recording on July 2, 1935, was a big hit…it was set to the captivating 2/4 beat which would make Juan D’arienz0’s orchestra immensely popular…so popular in fact that he is widely credited as reviving tango in the 40s and 50s with a fast beat that appealed to young people…the legendary Anibal Troilo is quoted as saying “laugh if you will, but without Juanito, we would all be out of work”…born in the neighborhood of Balvanera, Buenos Aires in 1900, Juanito had to endure serious quarrels with his father, a successful businessman, because he wanted to pursue music as a career; his father wanted him to study law and take over his business ventures….at age 19 Juanito was playing violin the national symphony orchestra and later he played in a jazz group before devoting himself to tango…some historians believe that it was pianist Rodolfo Biagi who joined D’arienzo in 1935, who  suggested the faster beat…in the early 1950s D’arienzo’s milonga “La Punalada” was the first tango to ever reach 1 million copies in sales…


Interestingly, late in life, in an interview, Juan D’arienzo said that one evening at the mythical Chantecler Cabaret, Carlos Gardel express to him his premonition that he would die in an airplane crash…Juan D’arienzo never flew and consequently never left Argentina even though his music was immensely popular all over the world…”Desde El Alma” was originally composed in 1911 by 14-year-old Rosita Melo who was born in Montevideo but raised in Buenos Aires…it was recorded by Roberto Firpo for the first time soon after its composition but there were infinite versions recorded…perhaps the two most popular were the version by Juan D’arienzo and the one by Nelly Omar which was recorded on October 22, 1947 with the Francisco Canaro Orchestra…it was probably Nelly’s greatest hit in a long and glorious career  …the lyrics for the Omar version were written by Homero Manzi in 1948 for the film“”Pobre Mi Madre Querida”




Violinist, Composer (Cancer) – Unlike most of the other tango legends Manlio Francia did not have a tough beginning in life and he was forever known for his positive disposition and his generosity…he was born in the city of Venice Italy and he was to say that his childhood recollection of that beautiful city not only inspired him but gave him strength to overcome life’s vissicitudes…his father, a violinist and his first teacher, was a celebrated orchestra leader who during the summer months played at the Cote Azur in Southern France…when he was five years old, his birthday present was a violin…in 1910 the whole family made their first trip to Argentina when his father’s orchestra was hired to play at the  elegant Hotel Bristol at Mar De Plata where Argentina’s high society vacationed…Manlio recalled that on the first performance, some scantily clad dancing-girls were included and a minor scandal ensued; these were the people who looked in askance upon the scandalous tango music of the lower classes…in fact the only tango acceptable to them was the Orchestra of Osvaldo Fresedo who was the only tango musician with origins in the upper class of Argentina


Eventually the family decided to settle in Buenos Aires…Manlio continued his studies at the Instituto Santa Cecilia from which he graduated at the age of 16…a shy Manlio began performing classical music at partys and salons but it was at the Cafe Armonia that the patrons began to request tango pieces…it is here that Manilo learned to love tango and made the difficult decision to devoted himself to its music…he was then recruited for the Maipu Pigalle where he first met Osvaldo Fresedo and Enrique Delfino…in his career he would perform with many orchestras including that of Adolfo Carabelli and Carlos Di Sarli…he played off and on for 25 years with the mythical Julio De Caro Orchestra…as a musician with the Orchestra Tipica Victor he met and worked with the inimitable Tito Schipa…with Enrique Delfino he recorded his first composition “Prorotita”; some others include “Luis Maria”, “Helena” and “Maldita Vision” which Carlos Gardel recorded in 1925



It snowed on June 22, 1918, an extremely rare event in Buenos Aires….Agustin Bardi “El Chino” had gone to the horse race track at La Plata that evening in his friend Firito’s Ford Model T….it was fate that on the return, gushing like boys at the beauty of this rare event, all of a sudden the Model T went dead and try as they might, they could not restart the car…as his two companions busied themselves under the hood, Agustin stood and looked at the sky in awe; it was indeed an inspiring  sight…as his head was tilted skyward, the notes began to flow in his head…it is then that he composed “Que Noche” (what a night)…it would not snow again in Buenos Aires until July 10, 2007; ninety years later and Radio Belgrano celebrated the occasion by playing “Que Noche” and presenting the life of its composer Agustin Bardi


“Que Noche” was an instant hit…it was first recorded by the Roberto Firpo Orchestra …many others were to follow including Juan D’arienzo, Osmar Maderna, Osvaldo Fresedo…one of the latest recordings was in 1997 by the Trio Luis Di Matteo…Agustin Bardi, pianist, violinist and composer was born in the neighborhood of La Flores in Buenos Aires…he had a tough childhood and he quit school early to help the family but he always loved music; he was essentially self taught…he made his debut as a violinist in a trio including Genaro Esposito…sometime in 1912 he composed his first tango “Vicencito” which a friend had to transcribe as he did not yet write music…he was demanding with himself and with others and was described as an absent minded misanthrope…on Arpil 21, 1941 as he was rushing home to finish a melody that had been haunting him, he suddenly fell down…he was dead from a massive heart attack at the age of fifty five…on his desk was found an unfinished melody he had been working on which his son Carlos later called “Sus Ultimas Notas” (his last notes)…it was premiered by the Joachim Do Reyes Orchestra on Radio El Mundo…there is a saying in Argentina, “it will snow again in Buenos Aires, before a replacement is found for Carlos Gardel



Violinist, Leader (Gemini) – he was twenty fours years old when he formed “The Vardaro Pugliese Orchestra”; it was a dream come true…with great fanfare and promise and including a wide-eyed Anibal Troilo the group debuted at the Cafe Nacional to an ecstatic reception…but the dream was to turn into a nightmare when embarking a long tour of Argentina, the lack of proper organization and management not only resulted in the curtailing of the tour and the dismemberment of the group, but Elvino had to pawn his “Sartoris Bow” to be able to buy train fare back home….like Elvino, the protagonist in Bellini’s “La Sonnambula” after whom his father named him who sings “all is lost, nothing can be done, my heart is dead to joy and love”, he went through a period of great despair…but Elvino would not only survive but go on to have a diverse and exciting career as few tango musicians would ever have…tango historians often refer to “the Vardaro school” to describe musicians and events


Elvino Vardaro grew up in the Abasto neighborhood of  Buenos Aires…his first brush with tragedy came at the age of three years old he lost part of his right thumb in a playing accident…at the age of four he began studying violin into which he abandoned his soul…his teacher, the celebrated Doro Gorgatti greatly admired Elvino but he felt that his talent was being wasted on tango…at age fourteen he made his concert debut at theater “La Argentina”…the publicity poster advertised, “child prodigy…admittance price only two pesos”…one evening, while playing at a silent cinema theater, Juan Paglio “Macho” himself came to the cinema to ask the boy Elvino to join his orchestra…Elvino late joined the legendary Paquita Bernardo, the first female bandoneonist; it is there that he met Osvaldo Pugliese…in his career he would play with Lucio Demare, Astor Piazzolla and Carlos Disarli…later with the Pedro Maffia orchestra he wrote his first tango “Grito del Anima”…among his most remember compositions are “Tineblas” recorded by Pedro Maffia with the voice of the fascinating Tito Schippa and “Imaginacion” recorded by Libertad Lamarque and “Te Llama Mi Violin” recorded by Osvaldo Fresedo.



Composer, Guitarist, Violinist (Gemini) – his paternal gandparents Agustin Ocampo and Angela Vilaza came to Argentina in leg irons; they were slaves from the Congo…although Modesto Ocampo was brought up in extreme poverty in Montevideo’s tough “Barrio Sur”, where two other tango pioneers of African descent Lagrima Rios and Carlos Olmedo also grew up, he was also given the gift of a loving family which would manifest itself in kindness and generosity as an adult…this, along with his musical ability, would earn him the respect of his community and in his mature years the honorary, “Don Vito”….out on the streets the young Modesto learned to defend himself and he was renown for his courage…in a famous incident, Modesto was the bandoneon player with a trio auditioning at the Cafe Boedo in Montevideo whose owner reportedly said “I like you guys very much except for black guy; he is too black for this place“, where upon the leader of the trio responded, “he is a good musician and has a big heart and so if he leaves we all leave”


As a child his teachers began to notice two talents, music and drawing…in fact he would pursue studies in violin, guitar and painting…in 1903 he moved to Buenos Aires to work as an apprentice in the laboratory of Bixio Photo Shop; in time he would become the manager…at the age of twenty-four he married his childhood sweetheart Paula Perez and it was in between the birth of his two daughters that he composed his two tangos  “Queca” and “Te Amo Con Delirio”…”Queca” was recorded first by Vicente Greco and later by Francisco Canaro…he played for many years with the Famiglietti Orchestra with whom he became celebrated for his impassioned virtuosity with the Bandoneon; later he opened his own photo shop…in his later years he would lock himself away in his attic to paint; in 1946, in Buenos Aires, he organized the only exhibition of his work…true to his nature, he gave away his paintings to admirers and friends….at the age of seventy-nine, with his beloved wife and daughters at his side, he passed away in the same house that his grandfather Agustin Ocampo, African slave, had lived in



Ernesto Ponzio was a friend of the Savino boys and on a visit to their house one evening, he happened to see their young sister Adela sleeping sweetly on the sofa…there was a moment of stunned silence…he turned to the matriarch Savino and said, “Madam, take care of her for me, for I shall come back to marry her”…true to his word, on June 9, 1903 Ernesto Ponzio married the lovely, shy Adela Savino…Ernesto Ponzio was the composer of “Don Juan” one of the most beloved tangos in history; it has been recorded by almost all the great orchestras but the Carlos Di Sarli version is perhaps the best known…interestingly, it was the tango that the legendary El Cachafaz was dancing to in 1943 when he died suddenly from a massive heart attack…Ponzio was born in the neighborhood of Tierra Del Fuego, Buenos Aires…his father Antonio, an immigrant from Napoli, was playing his harp on stage one day when he died suddenly from a heart aneurysm…


Ernesto Ponzio, at age thirteen, was forced to leave school and play his violin at local bars for spare change to help support the family…later he would be renown for his generosity…fellow musicians knew that if they were in need, they could turn to him for help and when he did not have money he might compose a piece of music on the spot for the struggling musician to sell…later he and his beloved wife would open a grocery store where it was customary for struggling familys to obtain food on credit; in fact Ponzio was beloved as much for his generosity and his generous smile as much as for his compositions…in the 1933 classic film “Tango” Ponzio can be seen playing his violin as El Cachafaz and Carmencita Calderon are dancing to “El Enterriano” considered by some historians as the first published tango in history…it was noon time on October 31 of 1934 that, as he was playing on stage Ernesto  suddenly dropped his violin, grabbed his chest and  keeled over meeting the same fate as his father; he was forty-nine years old



Leader, Composer, Violinist, Pianist (Taurus) – through his unique way of feeling and expressing tango, this shy and sensitive violinist was to a major influence on legendary figures who followed him….the great Astor Piazzolla idolized Gobbi speaking frequently of his influence and dedicating to him his renown “Retrato de Alfredo Gobbi”…Alfredo Gobbi was born in Paris; his father Alfredo Eusebio Gobbi, originally from Uruguay, was himself a celebrated singer and composer and one of the early pioneers of tango….along with his wife Flora they formed a celebrated duo “Los Gobbis” who were a hit in Paris…working with them there was the legendary Angleo Villoldo who would also become Alfredo’s godfather…in time the couple returned to Buenos Aires and Alfredo grew up in the neighborhood of Villa Ortuzar…Alfredo began studying violin and it soon became evident that he was a gifted musician…his father dreamed of seeing his son as a great classical violinist but against his father’s strenuous opposition, Alfredo began to gravitate toward tango…


Alfredo began working as a “canillita” on the streets selling oranges to raise money to get into the Select Lavalle Cabaret to see the Julio De Caro Orchestra…at age thirteen he made his professional debut playing in modest sidewalk trios…his first break occurred when the legendary Juan Maglio “Pacho” asked him to join his orchestra and later he joined the  Elvino Vardaro Quartet where his two young companions, Anibal Troilo and Osvaldo Pugliese, would one day would be legends…at the age of thirty, he formed his own orchestra which debuted at the San Souci Cabaret and soon after that, they headlined on the influential Radio El Mundo….Alfredo had composed his first tango “Perro Fiel” (Faithful Dog) at the age of 14; many more were to follow including the hit, “Un Tango Para Chaplain”…many singers would form their careers with Alfredo Gobbi including Tito Landò, Alfredo Del Rio and Carlos Yanel…he appeared in three films “Barranca Abajo” in 1937, Loco Lindo in 1936, and Amalia, also in 1936, and directed Luis Moglia Barth who three years earlier had premiered the first sound film in Argentina,  “Tango”