Archive for the ‘ Special Events ’ Category

1861, March 17 – ITALY IS UNITED…TANGO IS CREATED !

Perhaps the single biggest reason for the creation of tango was the unification of Italy which radically upended society  leading to massive emigration of Italians to Argentina….Tango is overwhelmingly a creation of Italian immigranst in Argentina…furthermore, it is part of  a history of Italian musical traditions which from the time of the Renaissance were being exported to royal courts as far away as Russian…the unification of Italy broke down the land feudal system which had survived in the south of Italy since the middle ages…the well intended redistribution of land had the unintended effect of  creating smaller and less efficient plots of land…at the same time improved hygiene and access to healthcare led to longer life spans and a dramatic increase in population…the emigration was mostly southern and rural; the great Ignacio Corsini, for example, was born in Troina, Sicily…the only large city to experience emigration was Napoli…with unification, it had gone from being the capital of a grand kingdom to being just another big city leading to a loss of jobs and loss of investment and consequently high unemployment rates…

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Adding to its woes were a series of cholera epidemics beginning in the 1880s which also encouraged emigration; in fact tango has strong Neapolitan musical roots…another effect of unification was that the state took over control of emigration by setting standards, licensing emigration agents, providing health care at ports of embarkation  and making agreements with receiving countries to protect the immigrants and to provide health care upon their arrival…in 1903 the government organized the ports of embarkation in Palermo, Naples and Genoa…Italian unification can be traced to the defeat of Napoleon (himself of Italian descent)…his installed monarchs tried to save their thrones by stoking nationalist sentiments which inadvertently inspired the move to the  unification of Italy…inspired by the French Revolution, a secret organization known as “Carbonari” developed to fight for Italian unification which with the leadership of the charismatic Giuseppe Garibaldi eventually prevailed…by one estimate, 80% of tango composers were of Italian descent; two of its greatest, Osvaldo Pugliese and Astor Piazzollawere of Italian jewish descent

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CLICK HERE – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvFt615a14A&feature=related to hear the “Marcia Reale”, the official national anthem at the time of unification…it was composed by Giuseppe Gabetti in 1931 as the hymn of the Royal House of Savoy

1925, March 15 – BIRTH OF EDOUARD PECOURT

Collector (Pisces) – during Nazis occupied Paris several times he narrowly escaped being arrested…he remembered hunger and walking for hours through the country side to reach a farmer whom it was rumored had meat to sell…his wife abandoned him leaving him to care for two young children from his meagre earning selling pens…some how, along the journey of an epic life he fell in love  with tango and his collection would eventually reach 50, 000 recordings…Edouard Percourt was born in the fabled artists’ hill of Montmartre in Paris….his father died while he was still a boy and his mother abandoned him to a tough, strict orphanage where he learned to fight to survive…his first job was as a shoe repairman working long hours and making barely enough to survive; hoping to better his lot, he went into selling pens…an Arabic woman invited him to sell  his pens at her Arabic music stand; here he was first exposed to tango; it was love at first sight, “three-minute operas” he called them…he began passionately collecting tango records which in the fiftys nobody wanted any more and he could acquire for next to nothing…

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In 1953 through tremendous personal sacrifice he purchased the old, dusty shop where he regularly bought his tango records…he renamed it “La Boite a Disques” (The Record Box)…here, located near the Louvre, in the shadow of Dali, Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh he had found his spiritual home…one day the bell on the door rang, he turned his head to see a young Astor Piazzolla walk in…their mutual love of music would bond them in a friendship for the rest of their lives…his 50,000 tango record collection includes more than 1000 recordings by Carlos Gardel and every Piazzolla original disc ever published anywhere in the world…in 1981 in New York City he met Jocelyn Howells, fell in love and married her; she was his third wife….at the age of sixty-two he did another courageous thing, he sold his shop and moved, along with his immense collection, to be with Jocelyn among the majestic evergreens just outside of  Portland, Oregon…he became a dear friend to local tangueros to whom, in his french accent, with radiance and little boy enthusiasm, he would give talks on the history of tango…he passed away at the age of 83 from brain lymphoma with his beloved Jocelyn by his side

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1934, March 5 – GARDEL SINGS ON NBC, NEW YORK, 3 PM

This was one of the very first broadcasts of its kind in history…while Carlos Gardel was singing at  the NBC studios in New York, through a short wave radio hook-up, he was being accompanied by his long time guitarists Guillermo Barbieri and Angel Riverol back in Buenos Aires…the performance was being transmitted throughout Argentina by Radio Splendido transmitters and throughout South America through its affiliated radio stations with the assistance of Radio Belgran0…he had sung for the first time on NBC just a few months earlier, on new year’s eve, December 31 at 10.30 PM…his break had come during  the previous summer when he had met fellow Uruguayan, Hugo Mariani on vacation; Hugo was one of the key NBC orchestra conductor’s and had evaluated Gardel over a series of performances until one day he said, “Carlos, I think you are ready for New York”…this was a dream come true for Gardel; NBC was the most popular radio station in the world and the US market the most prestigious…

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The initial performance had gone so well that Gardel was given a contract to sing a series of weekly half hour performances; NBC was paying him $315.00 per week…this was a huge sum of money for a nation which was in the throes of a deep depression…newspaper mentions of his performances appeared all over the country along side the names of Jack Benny, Charlie Chaplain, Will Rogers, Eddie Cantor…NBC made an effort to sell Gardel to the broader American market by recording him in English but in the end, they gave up on the project; his English was not very good…his translater in New York was a thirteen year old bandoneonist by the name of Astor Piazzolla whose father had moved the family to New York some years earlier….Gardel was so impressed with young Astor’s talent that he had him accompany him on the NBC Symphony Orchestra for recording sessions…he also invited Astor to accompany him to on his forthcoming tour of South America but because of Astor’s young age his father finally did not give his consent…just a few months later Gardel would die in the fiery airplane crash in the Medellin, Colombia where all, save one guitarist, would perish

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1934, February 24 – TOYO AND MASAFUMI WED IN TOKYO

Isami’s considerable investment and sacrifice in his daughter’s education and presentation was beginning to pay off in the social class aspirations of the family ….his investigation of  Ishikawa Masafumi including conversations with his family’s neighbors had confirmed that he came from the “right” famiily…his was a traditional samurai family and like his daughter he had been educated at Japan’s preeminent Tokyo Imperial University Bin’ichi; he was an engineer at the prestigious Mitsubishi Trading Company…his father Ishikawa Masayoshi was a career military officer and war hero who had died valiantly in the 1920 Siberian Expedition…that grand day, Toyo wore a red kimono made of the finest silk; Masafumi wore stripped pants, vest and tails and was carrying white gloves…the ceremony was partially held at the Shinto shrine General Nogi Maresuke, hero of the Japanese-Russo war who had been the embodiment of traditional samurai spiritual values; when his emperor Meiji had died, he and his wife had committed  ceremonial Seppuku….

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Toyo and Masafumi shared one other thing, a love of tango and in fact during their one year engagement they had taken tango lessons at the renown Baron Tsunami Megata’s tango academy; it was Baron Tsunami Megata who introduced tango to Japan…in 1920 he had gone to Paris to treat a skin condition on his feet but became so enamored with the night life that he stayed for six years…in the Club Garron where the Manuel Pizzaro orchestra was playing, he became ensnared by tango; he went on to become an accomplished dancer…upon his return to Tokyo he opened a tango academy and it quickly became  fashionable for the aristocracy to learn tango…he later published a book “A Method to Dance Argentine Tango”…the first Argentinean orchestra to visit Japan was that of Juan Canaro; later, several home-grown orchestras developed, prominent among them was Shimpei Hayakawa’s, Typical Orchestra of Tokyo

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  • CLICK HERE – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ebfeKwEPeo to hear Ranko Fujisawa sing“Cristal”, composed by Mariano Mores…Ranko was born on July 21, 1925 in Japan became a noted tango singer in Japan during the golden era

1983, February 20 – “CHANY” DEAD AT 28

Luis Hernandez, an accomplished, self-made man, was stunned at his sense of powerlessness; his beloved Rossana was dying and he could do nothing about it…he had brought her to his country retreat away from everything where hopefully with his love and attention and prayer she might recover and yet inspite of it all, she was deteriorating…they were resigned to the inevitable but at least they could still get married, doctors assured them that there was time for that and so with great delight, they immersed themselves into the plans for that beautiful day ; but fate would deny them even this for on the evening on February 20, 1983 with him by her side, holding her hand, whispering of better things to come, she passed away…she was 28 years old…Rossana Ines Falasca “Chany” was born in Humbolt, Argentina on Aril 27, 1953 (Taurus) to Ado, a struggling  Italian immigrant tailor and Filomena Theler daughter of Swiss immigrants; she was the third of six children in a family full of music…

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Her father was a singer and in the evenings he had his own little group which brought in a little extra money…already from a young age Rossana was different, sensitive, inquisitive, philosophical and in fact later she would be a student of Zen and a practitioner of yoga….when Rossana was ten years old, Ado noticed her singing spontaneously in perfect pitch and he was inspired to create a singing duo of  ”Ado and Chany”…one day in a performance at the town of Rafaela, a producer from the show “Grandes Valores del Tango” heard Rossana sing and invited them to Buenos Aires…at her audition she sang one of the only two tangos she knew “Madreselva”; the response was electrifying and at the age of 16 she was offered a four-year contract…from there her career very quickly took off…in November of 1982 during a routine medical examination a malignant tumor was detected and she was immediately rushed to surgery; the prognosis however was not good…dealing with fear and pain, Rossana courageously continued her career completing tours of Latin America and the United States where she lived for a while…she was to star in three films…at her funeral one of  the legions of  her fans said, “I was only ten years old when I first heard you….you gave me the gift of so much tenderness and you shall always be in my heart”

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  • CLICK HERE – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CosGKs3YS1Y to see “Chany” sing in her last performance “Soledad” where the lyrics say, “I refuse to hear that from, your sweet life, you have torn me out…my soul pleads hopelessly for the call that will never arrive”

1923, February 18 – VALENTINO DANCES AT TRIANON BALLROOM

By the 1920s several dance crazes had swept American, non more than tango….but politically powerful anti vice forces also criticized dance halls and in particular tango  as unhealthy, immoral venues for the seduction of women and the practice of prostitution…hoping to capitalize, Andrew Karzas, invested one million dollars into the construction and promotion of a new dance hall on the South side of Chicago, “The Trianon Ballroom”…the interior was designed to accommodate enormous crowds of up to 3ooo dancer in the main hall and another 3000 in the upper floor…to protect his investment against the moral reformists, Karzas instigated strict rules of conduct which were enforced by six men and women who would evict offenders…a prominent sign read, “we do not allow spooning or petting between the dances” …it is in this atmosphere that Karzas took the courageous act of booking living legend Rodolfo Valentino.

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Born in Italy, Valentino danced with his second wife Natacha Rambova to the delight of six thousand delirious fans some of which, it is said, actually fainted…  Natacha Rambova was a costume designer and art director when he met her on the set of the film “Uncharted Seas” in 1921…he married her in Mexicali Mexico but as soon as he returned to California, he was arrested for bigamy as California law required a one year waiting period between marriages…Natacha was a disaster; she was controlling and unsocial causing him many problems personally and professionally; two years later they had a bitter divorce…at the news of  Valentino’s sudden death, 2000 people crammed into the Trianon Ballroom to hear a eulogy from Judge Francis Borelli, president of the Valentino Memorial Association who said of Rodolfo, “he was ever the personification of romance, he was the ideal of love at once Cyrano, Romeo and Don Juan”

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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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