Archive for the ‘ Libra ’ Category

1910, September 24 – DOMINGO SANTA CRUZ DEBUTS AT “LA MOROCHA” CAFE

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…

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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

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1896, August 3 – BIRTH OF CELEDONIO FLORES

The fascist like overthrow on June 4, 1943 of the elected government did not augur well for poet Celedonio Flores…the dictatorship’s censors, in a misguided attempt to raise the moral level of Argentine society, began to prohibit precisely the kind of language he used to describe the tough underworld which he was familiar with…Celedonio Flores, of mixed african descent, was born in the neighborhood of Villa Crespo to a poor and sometimes violent family…he was restless in school and was often in trouble and so he quit to seek his fortune in the outer world…he worked at a number of odd jobs including having been a boxer…in the evenings, he led a wild, bohemian life among Buenos Aires’s clubs, cafes and houses of prostitution…it is in this dark underworld that he crossed paths with life’s tragic stories which would be the themes of his tangos…in 1920 he happened to send a simple poem entitled “Ultima Ora” to a newspaper which to his surprise was published and for which he was given five  pesos…that might have been the end of it had not Carlos Gardel happen to read the poem and created the tango “Margo” from it…

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Carlos Gardel would go on to record twenty-one of his tangos in the process making Celedonio a famous poet and financially secure…for a number of years he wrote exclusively for the legendary Rosita Quiroga who was the incarnation of the characters he spoke about in his lyrics…Rosita  recited her tangos as she strummed her guitar not averse to using the slang and vulgar language she heard on the streets of her neighborhood of La Boca; the same one where her neighbor and teacher Juan De Dios Filiberto lived in…Celedonio Flores wrote many successful tangos like “Viejo Smoking” which was a great hit for Carlos Gardel in 1930 and “Mano A Mano” which would be a great hit for Julio Sosa 30 years later…in an interview Celedonio Flores was to say about his work, “I search for an piece of life, I live it personally in my mind, and slowly and carefully I begin to craft it with words”…Celedonio would attain much success in life but he would die embittered at the relatively young age of 51…Robert Farris Thompson in his celebrated book “Tango, The Art History of Love” called Celedonio Flores, “the poet laureate of the people”

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c. 1975, October 17 – BIRTH OF PABLO VERON

Dancer – In September of 2009 while he was seated at the famous All Night Milonga in New York city, a fan came up to his table, asked him to dance and when he refused she assailed him verbally, threw a glass of wine at him and slapped him whereupon he slapped her back….such are the vicissitudes of fame of  which he has said, “I do not see myself like a celebrity at all. I don’t like people seeing me that way, I never looked for fame, it is just not my dream”

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But famous he is; perhaps the best known tango dancer in the world today….Early on he was considered a  young tap-dance prodigy and he was sent to New York by his parents to continue his studies…his first professional job was in the musical comedy “Evita” in 1986…two years later he in his first film, ” Cepayos”, he is a member of  a troupe of tango dancers which commit acts of political sabotage…the seminal event in his career however was when English film director Sally Potter sought him out for tango lessons and from there the idea was born for the semi autobiographical film “Tango Lesson” whose immense success skyrocketed his career…Pablo say, “a good tango dancer is someone who has respect for the woman; he adapts himself to her, he makes her feel that she is the best dancer, he dances for her”

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1916, October 15 – BIRTH OF RAUL IRIARTE

Singer – (Libra) – At the peak of his popularity in the 1950s, his voice was the most requested in latin america second only to that of Carlos Gardel…he was born in the neighborhood of Barracas, Buenos Aires where already as a child he showed a love for singing…his first break came when he was featured on Radio Prieto at the age of 17 where his smooth baritone voice garnered him immediate public acclaim…other invitations soon followed; in 1938 he was recruited into Mario Azerboni Orchestra

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The seminal event in his career occurred however, when  the noted composer and lyricist Oscar Rubens suggested his name to Miguel Calo who was looking for a singer for his orchestra; on May 17, 1943 he hired him and indeed it was his pairing with Calo which would groom his greatness….with Calò, he cut his first record, an Oscar Rubens creation, “Es enVano Llorar” (it is in vain to cry) which became an overnight hit….soon after, two other hits followed with “Manana Ire Temprano” and “Cada Dia Te Estrano Mas…In 1950 he made his first, highly successful tour of Latin America but it was performances in Mexico in 1956 with its delirious crowds which would render him a legend…In 1977 he quit singing to devote himself to a large restaurant he had bought in Bogotá Colombia and it is there that, following a courageous battle with a long illness, that he finally succumbed just short of his 66th birthday.

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1912, October 12 – BIRTH OF OSCAR ALONSO

Singer – the legendary Troilo said of Oscar Alonso, “after Gardel, he was the best tango singer; of this there is no doubt”…born in the country side, his father was a herdsman who, interestingly was cited by name by Ricardo Guiraldes in his novel  “Don Segundo Sombra”…when Oscar was 14 the father moved the family to Buenos Aires…two years later he had his first singing job at a  busy cafe where, a customer would recall years later, his first tango had been “La Ultima Copa”

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In 1929, through a loyal customer, he got his first break when he was invited to sing at radio station “La Voz del Aire”…doors opened for him including a stint at the legendary Cafe Nacional where it is said that Gardel performing at a theater next door, upon hearing him sing, predicted a good future for the young man…his career however was to be uneven, there were periods when he would disappear; perhaps it was the ready glass of whiskey in hand…on a long tour of Latin America, he discovered a special love for Cuba about which, in his waining years, he loved to tell tales.

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1904, October 11 – BIRTH OF TITA MERELLO

Singer (Libra) – “my childhood was short, sad and ugly…I  saw hunger and lots of shame” she would say from the vantage point of fame and success…she admitted, without shame, to having had to resort to prostitution to survive…Tita Merello was born in Buenos Aires, her birth certificate oddly listed no mother, only a father whose profession is “cart driver”…in any case her father dies when she is still a child and a girl by the name of Ana Gianelli shows up claiming to be  Tita’s mother but nevertheless abandons her to a series of  nameless orphanages…

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She had no teachers…she would mouth the words of tangos she heard on the streets and when she would sing, she was out of tune but there was something that made people stop and look up…her first foray into show business was as a chorus girl in a sordid, port theater frequented by sailors; it was the beginning of  career which mastered by an overwhelming drive, would take her to the heights of stardom…her first tangos were recorded  in 1927; her first film “Tango”, in 1933…. she would star in over forty films; in “Mercado de Abasto” she sang her great hit, “Se Dice De Mi”….she was to be a woman of many men, but her true love was only one, actor Luis Sandrini who finally left her for a younger actress.. A celebrated critic said of her “She is the most temperamental, vehement actresses on the national scene and interprets tangos as an actress, for her each tango is a little theater play”

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1939, October 9 – BIRTH OF ERNESTO ACHER

Composer, Multi-Instrumentalist, Leader – born in Buenos Aires, he studied piano and clarinet as a youth but finally completed his studies in Architecture…his career has included having been a composer, actor, instrument designer, choir master, singer, stand up comedian, and orchestra leader; he plays over thirty different instruments…for 15 years he was a member of Les Luthiers, a comedy musical group highly popular throughout South America……

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In 1975 he had his first foray into symphonic music by composing “Teresa y el Oso” (Therese and the Bear) for Les Luthiers…this led to a commission for the soundtrack composition of a Carlos Jerusalinsky film which earned him a first prize…For the stage production ‘Muchas Gracias de Nada‘, he sang lead vocals on the opening number (‘La campana suonerá’)…when asked how it was possible for him to learn so many musical instruments and do theater,  he said  “I majored in architecture”

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  • CLICK HERE – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_KXk8LV7oU to see Ernesto Acher conduct his critically acclaimed ,  “40 Choclos”,  a fusion of Mozart’s Symphony 40 and “El Choclo” by Angel Villoldo