Archive for the ‘ Libra ’ Category

1926, October 20 – BIRTH OF ADOLFO RIVAS

Toward the end of a long and fruitful life, the one memory which which Adolfo Rivas treasured above others was the day his mother called him in tears because she had just heard him sing on long distance Radio Belgrano from her small town of Perhuajo….Adolfo Rivas (Libra) was singing almost as soon as he was walking and his parents were very encouraging even though a small town has few opportunities for singers…in fact a teenage Adolfo, with a voice resembling the great Roman popular singer Claudio Villa, began singing for free in the local radio stations and began to develop a name for himself in local festivals….with much trepidation, still in his early 20s, he decided to try his luck in big and intimidating Buenos Aires…a Perhuajo fan introduced him to musician Edmundo Baya who had two brothers in the orchestra of Juan Sanchez Gorio who just happened to be looking for a second singer to support his primary singer Luis Mendoza…Adolfo auditioned for Gorio with “Mi Noche Triste” and “Remembranza”…


In the middle of the audition Gorio said, “that’s enough, you start tomorrow”….Adolfo was stunned, “I nearly fainted” he said…neverthless, after one year a frustrated Adolfo left the orchestra feeling that first singer Luis Mendoza, fearing competition, conspired to limit his exposure and ascendancy…interestingly, it was the same Luis Mendoza, whom he would encounter by chance on the streets of Buenos Aires, who would tell him that Edgardo Donato was looking for a singer…helped by Mendoza’s personal recommendation, he auditioned with “Tu Piel De Jasmin” and was hired by Donato…he spent almost two happy years with Donato refining his talent while touring throughout the country…his reputation now established, he was recruited by Osmar Maderna with whom he made two recordings before Maderna’s fatal airplane accident…for the remainder of his career he joined a number of orchestras to great acclaim but eventually the telephone rang less and less and he ended him career as a traveling car parts salesman in which he also also found success and satisfaction



Psychologist tell us that successful people share certain traits in common, enthusiasm, focus and the ability to overcome setbacks…Donato Racciatti (Libra) was blessed with these qualities and unlike so many of his contemporaries, when he finally passed away at the age of 81, he was content and serene, beloved by his fans and the people of Montevideo…for every successful orchestra like those of D’arienzo, Fresedo, Troilo, hundreds tried and failed in a highly competitive and fickle field…born in the Aires Puros neighborhood of Montevideo, early on he demonstrated precocious musical ability and although pressured by his parents to pursue a more secure career, he was determined to make music his life’s vocation…he pursued his studies in bandoneon with unusual passion…a key point in his career occurred at the age of 22 when he was recruited by the Laurenz Casella Orchestra…soon after that he found himself leading the orchestra of singer Luis Alberto Fleitas…at the age of 30 he put together his own orchestra to which he devoted himself with unbridled passion…


He hired a young bandoneonist named Raul Jaurena who would in time become one of the most successful exports to New York City where he would have a renown and stellar career…his first recording was “Conocen Estos Compasses” (Do you Know These rhythms) composed by Horacio Marquez…on the other side was the candombe “El Pregon Del Negrito” which he personally composed…he was to become immensely popular first on local radio stations and later in Buenos Aires’s mythical Radio Belgrano and Radio El Mundo…like his fellow countryman Francisco Canaro, he began external forays with tours in Brazil…his most prolific period was between 1953 and 1960 with notable vocalists like Nina Miranda, Luis Correa, Nestor Real and Carlos Roldan…as a composer some of his best work was done in collaboration with lyricist Federico Silva…some of his best known compositions include “Vencida”, “Sin Estrellas” and the immortal “Hasta Siempre Amore” which was a major hit for Carlos Di Sarli with the voice of Horacio Casares


  • CLICK HERE –  to hear one of Donato Racciatti’s greatest hits “Hasta Siempre Amore”  played by the Juan D’arienzo orchestra….lyrics by Federico Silva

1902, October 15 – BIRTH OF CARLOS BAHR

The disappearance of the crew Mary Celeste “Ghost Ship”, in 1872 is often cited as the greatest maritime mystery of all time…it’s captain and crew, mysteriously disappeared from a ship that was shipshape, loaded with food and supplies and with the personal belongings of its passengers still on board…it has been the foder of mariner folklore and literature over time….a similar fate awaited the father of Carlos Bahr, an experienced sailor and the owner of a whaling ship…Herr Bahr was a stern, highly principled and proud German of jewish origin from Hamburg…at the start of World War I, he reassured his French wife Colette and their three children in their La Boca neighborhood home and dutifully set sail on his ship to offer his services to the fatherland…on the way however, like Captain Benjamin Briggs of the Mary Celeste, he and his ship mysteriously disappeared and were never heard from again….the Bahr family was devastated…young Carlos Bahr had to quit school and he began to roam the streets doing odd jobs to survive and often sleeping in what ever cover he might find…in time he discovered a voracious appetite for reading…


Carlos Bahr (Libra) became self-taught in a wide variety of subjects becoming fluent in French, German, Italian…he would become the most prolific tango lyricist in history registering over 600 works in his name…his reading on the Spanish Civil War inflamed his imagination and he tried to volunteer but was rejected because of a lung problems…his first tango was “Cartas Viejas” written sometime in 1934….his first successful tango was “Fracaso” which Mercedes Simone recorded two years later…soon after that he won first prize with the milonga “Milonga Compadre” composed by Jose Mastro and recorded by Pedro Laurenz…it was while working at Radio Portena that his inspiration was first inflamed by a young, lovely singer Fina Ferro, a student of Luis Rubenstein…in 1942, inspite of a large difference in age, they married and moved to the neighborhood of Almagro…Carlos Bahr would pen the words to some of the most beloved tangos in history including “Manana Irè Temprano”, perhaps his best work, which would be hits for Raul Iriarte, Julio Sosa and Osvaldo Fresedo…others include “Cada Dia Te Estrano Mas” and “Corazon No Le Hagas Caso”


1893, October 13 – BIRTH OF “TANIA”

By her own admission, Tania was superior and condescending toward the portenos when she came to Buenos Aires in 1927…she was an important Spanish singer and dancer and all the portenos, in contrast to their posturing and bravado, could speak about was how to find the money to put on a simple play…she finally lent them the money…but there was one man who was different; shy, timid, self-effacing the legendary Enrique Santos Discepolo would win her heart…”Chachi”, she would call him…but the worldly Tania had to be patient; there was a bit of protocol…there were the invitations to his house with the chaperones…the invites to tea with friends present and finally the day when he said, somewhat apologetically, “I have rented a small apartment on my own, would you like to come for coffee”…she went, she said packing night-clothes for one evening prepared to return the next day but as she was to say, “I stayed forever”….theirs would be a storybook relationship, until he died of a broken heart when his friends abandoned him for his support of Peronism


“Tania”, born Anna Luciana Divis in Toledo Spain (Libra), to a father who was a military officer…motivated by sibling rivalry, to compete with her older sister who was an opera singer, she studied singing and acting….Tania, renown for her sense of humor, became a famous singer of “cuples”, brief satirical Spanish songs…her first husband was a famous dancer whose stage name was “Mexican”; together they formed  ”Tania-Mexican Dancing Partners”….Discepolo first laid eyes on her at the “Follies Bergere” where she was singing “Esta Noche Me Emborracho” a tango for which Discepolo wrote both the music and the lyrics…she would later record, to great acclaim, his “Cafetin De Buenos Aires”…it was Jose Razzano who made the formal introduction between them….she would become friends with Juan and Eva Peron and appear in three films…she had a famous conflict with Tita Merello when the later chose to testify on behalf of Discepolo’s son over an inheritance dispute…while Discepolo died young at the age of 50, she lived until the age of 106…when asked the secret of her longevity she answered, “I always have a whiskey with lunch”



He was a Mark Twain like character – cantankerous, tough, misanthropic, effusive and irascible by turns, addicted to profanity; this was Virulazo (Libra)…he did not like Piazzolla, he did not like the Japanese, Venice stank, John Travolta and Michael Jackson were queers; he once told Henry Kissinger to go to hell when he asked him to dance for free….he grew up tough; he began working at the age of eight first as a shoe shine boy outside whore houses…later selling sausage sandwiches to revelers late at night…a common laborer in a clamorous, rank-smelling slaughter-house; what little education he had he learned on the streets…his father was a Basque and his mother Italian but they separated early on and he was unloaded to his grandparents….”everything I am and all that I have accomplished I owe to my grandfather” he would say with tears in his eyes….he learned to dance tango by watching and his first performance was with his mother at the age of 12…he started dancing in cafes of the Mataderos neighborhood for spare change and for something to eat…


Later while dancing at a festival, he came to the attention of the master of ceremonies, the legendary lyricist Celedonio Flores and the singer Carlos Acuna; they encouraged and helped him….the very next day he appeared at the Armonia Cafe for his first professional engagement to great aclaim…in 1952 out of 157 dance couples, he won first place in a dance contest sponsored by the Aquila Chocolate Company…he would be Robert Duvall’s first tango teacher and he would be admired by the likes of Nureyev and Anthony Quinn whom he met in New York where he stayed at a luxurious hotel on 5th Avenue….his beloved dance partner Elvira had actually been his first girlfriend…they separated, he married his first wife Aida at the age of 18…nine years later he and Aida divorced and in stroke of destiny, he re-met Elvira whom he would marry and who would be his beloved dance partner for his whole life…his favorite tango was “Berretin” by Pedro Laurenz and his favorite singer was Carlos Gardel, who he said, moved him to tears each time he heard him sing…”crying”, he said, “is no longer just for women”


1965, October 3 – BIRTH OF ROXANA FONTAN

At the age of nine Roxana Fontan’s father exposed her to Discepolo, Shakespeare, Victor Hugo and Herman Hesse; “this is how I discovered tango” she recalls…perhaps it was this fertile influence that would one day turn Roxana (Libra) into one of the most gifted and versatile and tango singers in history…she is not only a singer, but an actress, a dancer as well as a producer and director…she grew up in a cultured and musical home; her grandfather had been a guitarist with a celebrated tango quartet…Roxana’s first musical heroines were Barbara Streisand and Sarah Vaughn but as a young girl, she dreamt of a career as an opera singer…she devoted herself to studying voice, theater and music but as a practical matter she studied advertising design…she managed to get a job as a graphic designer and she had attained security during times of great uncertainty but animated by the evening folk sessions with her doting grandfather, another voice inside beguiled her…she finally made the courageous decision to leave her secure job and seek her career as a singer…


Her first gigs were in small neighborhood clubs…her heroines were the women who were both singers and actresses like Tita Merello, Virginia Luque and Libertad Lamarque…a break occurred when, still in her teen years, she was invited to sing on the renown program Grande Valores Del Tango…other invitations followed including Juan Carlos Copes’  “Pesada Del Tango”…it is Copes whom she credits for having flowered her ability to act and dance as well…in 1998 she was selected to sing Tita Merello’s signature piece “Se Dice De Mi” in Carlos Saura’s classic film “Tango”…still later she was invited by Miguel Angel Zotto to perform with his renown company Tango x 2…in Japan she received ecstatic reviews from the public and critics alike when she toured there with singer Carlos Morel…after a long career at home and abroad, she released her first solo album, “Se Dice De Mi” acclaimed in particular for her rendition of Horacio Pettorossi’s waltz “Noches De Atenas”….in 2007 she created and directed her own tango show which premiered at the Peter North Symphony Space in New York…consistent with a gentle, sensitive, unassuming nature she is a practising buddhist and a lover and writer of poetry in her own right…along the way she found romance with renown dancer Pablo Garcia



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…


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