Archive for the ‘ Uruguay ’ Category


Leader, Pianist (Capricorn) – surely the stellar career of Miguel Villasboas can put to rest the controversy of whether tango belongs to both Montevideo and Buenos Aires…his career involved collaboration with the legends of tango Osvaldo Fresedo, Miguel Calo, Juan D’arienzo…critics rate his contribution to tango among the two top in the history of tango in Uruguay; perhaps second only to that of Donato Racciatti…his output in recording is immense 60 LPs, 10 cassettes, 10 Cds recorded for different labels in both Argentina and Uruguay…he earned rave review and standing ovations  during tours in South America; among the most memorable before discriminating audiences in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Brasil…he garnered ecstatic receptions  in Australia,  in the cities of Melbourne, Sidney and Adelaide…in the United States, especially in Miami and New York and in 2001 an   especially memorable tour of Japan….in 1976 the London label of England awarded him a gold disc for the sales success of his recording “De Pura Cepa”


He was born in the Pocitos neighborhood of Montevideo, Uruguay where from a very young age he showed keen musical ability which pleased his father, a piano teacher; in fact he was his first teacher…he finished his studies in the history of musical education and began teaching in high schools; an activity which he loved and which he continued until his retirement in 1993…at the age of 16 he formed his first musical group “Quinteto Miguelito”; they appeared in cafes and dancehalls and on television…he was still only 18 when luck broke his way, renowned maestro Nicolas Agapaios asked him to play piano with his orchestra…he later formed a sextet which would be in much demand; through it ranks passed some of Uruguays best musicians including Pedro Severino a virtuoso violinist who would remain with him for 30 years…in march of 1964 in his last appearance in Uruguay, the mythical Roberto Firpo invited Miguel to play with his group at the Palacio Sud America.




One thing is clear about Madam Jeanne, she ran the Chatecler, one of the most chic brothels in all of Latin America…she claimed that her name was Giovanna Ritana and that she was French; she may in fact have been Lucia Combe who was one of the innumerable young prostitutes who had come over from Italy…the evening had started at the upscale Peru Cafe on Avenida de Mayo, where Pancho Teruel, painting visions of “creme de la creme” of  Buenos Aires,  had prevailed upon Gardel and Razzano to reunite in a performance for a group of politically and socially important people…the event was a great success and a prominent member of the group suggested that they continue the evenings festivities to the Chantecler…it is there that he met Madam Jeanne for the first time; which along with that of Isabel Del Valle, was the beginning of  Gardel’s longest lasting relationship…a relationship that would lead to his brush with death three years later…


Madam Jeanne, had been in a longstanding relationship with a shady, underworld figure by the name of Juan Garesio….Juan became immensely jealous and intense and violent fights between him and Madam Jeanne were to follow; eventually he hired one Roberto Guevara, apparently the father of future legend Che Guevara, to kill Gardel…on December 11, 1915 Gardel had just finished a performance at the San Martin Theater and was walking away from the place when Guevara caught up with him and shot him….the newspaper La Nacion reported that the victim had been rushed to Juan A. Fernandez hospital where he was in serious condition; the bullet remained lodged in Gardel’s lung and eventually doctors decided that the most prudent course was to leave it there and let him heal without further intervention….weeks later, Gardel now fully recovered, hired Juan Ruggerio to negotiate a settlement whereby no further attempts on his life would be made…on the night of June 24, 1935 when his lifeless, burned body is pull from the plane wreckage in Medellin Colombia, the bullet from the lung that was recovered in autopsy confirmed that the deceased was indeed “Charles Romuald Gardes”, alias Carlos Gardel, singer.



The guitar is the symbolic instrument which unites both Argentina and Uruguay; it has been from the beginning, the primary instrument for both tango and folk music in Montevideo and Buenos Aire…it is with this in mind that Alberto De Los Santos, in 1991, founded the Cuarteto De Los Santos; which from its inception has included band members from both Argentina and Uruguay…its success has been phenomenal; it has gone on to conquer critics and audiences all over the world…one critic noted, “rarely in the history of the guitar, have guitars had such a spell binding effect on audiences…the elixar of  ”Cuarteto De Los Santos” cuts across age, national and cultural differences”


Alberto de los Santos was born in Montevideo, Uruguay to a father who was himself a musician and guitarist…from early on his father noticed the musical talent in young Alberto and he began teaching him…when other boys might be anxious to get on the football field or hang out with friends, Alberto was totally devoted to his guitar..his proficiency at a young age surprised even his father… at the age of 13 he was selected among several candidates to form part of a trio; his first professional job…at age 15 he became part of a renown duet called “America” which quickly attained notiriety…he was then invited to become part of the Carlos Paralta guitar ensemble which accompanied the legendary Roberto Goyeneche…he began to be requested in the  groups providing music for television stations in both Montevideo and Buenos Aires by noted maestros like Horacio Salgan…the repertori of Cuarteto De Los Santos has included instrumental versions of famous Argentinian and Uruguayan authors and composers such as Astor Piazzolla, A. Zitarrosa,  Agustin Bardi, Eduardo Arolas, Alfonso y Zabala.


1890, December 11 – BIRTH OF CARLOS GARDEL

Singer, Composer (Sagittarius) – as a result of a bar room argument on December of 1915, Carlos Gardel would be shot and wounded in the chest by non other than Ernesto Guevara Lynch the father of the legendary Chè Guevarra…Gardel was lucky that the bullet did not do any great damage but would remain lodged in his lung for the rest of his life…soon after that he makes a momentous decision, he records  his first tango, “Mi Noche Triste”;  up until then he had devoted himself to singing folk songs…”Mi Noche Triste” is an instant hit and it launches him on the road to the legendary status; it would be the first of 514 tangos which he would record in his brief career…in 1928 he debuts in Paris at the Teatre Femina in a benefit concert; the success would give him international recognition but it was his first full-length talking picture “Luces De Buenos Aires” which would give world stardom…in 1933 he records his last tango “Madam Yvonne ” in Buenos Aires before he leaves for another tour including a stop at the most popular radio station in the world, NBC of New York…he was never to return again alive.


Carlos Gardel was born in Toulouse, France…his mother was a struggling laundry woman whose employer, a married man with numerous children, was Gardel’s father…when he was two years old, his mother courageously moves him to Buenos Aires in the hopes of giving him a better life…at a certain point he acquired a passport which stated that he had been born in Tacuarembo, Uruguay which created quite a bit of controversy for a while…a biographer however advanced the credible thesis that Gardel had probably acquired such a passport to avoid being drafted by the French army which during World War I began sending draft notices to its citizens all over the world…Gardel may have been gay, the evidence is not clear…the longest lasting relationship he had was with Isabel Del Valle; she was a well-developed 14 year old and he was 34 years old; they lived together for a number of years…on June 23 1935 Gardel sings his last tango ”Tomo Y Obligo” (I drink and forget) on the radio, the next day he dies in Medellin, Colombia as his airplane crashes into another on its take off…in a magazine interview on January of 1974, the legendary Juan D’arienzo claims that Carlos Gardel once said to him, “Look Juancito, I think I am going to die on a plane”…perhpas his most renown composition was “Por Una Cabeza” whose popularity continues unabated to this day and has been used in films all over the world…Charlie Chaplin was to say of him “He had a superior presence of voice and person, an enormous personal sympathy that would win him the immediate affection of everyone”


  • CLICK HERE–  to see Carlos Gardel sing “Por Una Cabeza” composed by Carlos Gardel with lyrics by Alfredo Le Pera who died with Gardel in the airplane wreck in Medellin

1932, December 9 – 1st RECORDED, “EL HURACAN”

The composer of “El Huracan” (the hurricane) Edgardo Donato was notoriously absent minded…his daughter would tell the story of one day, when he was on a street car, that he happened to meet a friend and got into a conversation with him; they descended from the tram and continued talking…after a while he realized that his wife had been with him and that she had remained on the tram…”El Huracan” was a great hit for Edgardo, one of many among his more than 200 compositions…It was premiered at the Teatro Colón at a contest organized by the Sociedad de Beneficencia de Buenos Aires in 1932; it won second prize after the tango “Ventarron“…”El Huracan” continues to this day, to be played in milongas all over the world and has been recorded by many musicians, perhaps the most successful of all by Juan D’Arienzo


Edgardo Donato (born April 14, 1897, Airies), one of nine children of  an Italian immigrant musician in the field of opera, was born in the neighborhood of San Cristobal in Buenos Aires but raised in Montevideo (perhaps the only instance of a tango great going from Buenos Aires to Montevideo, it was usually the opposite)…his father was his first teacher and in fact Edgardo started his career in opera working with his father but his true love was the tango…with much trepidation, one day Edgardo mustered the courage to tell his father that he was joining the orchestra of Negro Quevedo which just happened to have on piano another future great, Enrique Delfino …Edgardo Donato was of course the composer of the immortal “A Media Luz” which he composed while riding a tram….his first hit “Julian” at the age of 24, he had actually tried to sell, in a moment of dire need, for 20 pesos but no one would buy it; he then decided to record it himself…its instant success created an immortal in tango


  • CLICK HERE– to hear “El Huracan” played by the Edgardo Donato orchestra…the lyrics are by Nolo Lopez…the voice is that of Alex Gutierrez; it was his first recording and a hit at the age 23

1969, December 4 – Goyeneche Records “BALLADA PARA UN LOCO”

In the classic film “King of Hearts” (1966) the residents of a small French village during World War I leave because the Germans plan to bomb the village…the inmates of the local insane asylum take over the village and create a festive, gay, surreal, make belief atmosphere totally oblivious to the war; the message of the film is, perhaps normal people are more crazy than those in the asylum…it is precisely this film which inspired Horacio Ferrer to write music…when the piece was premiered by Amelia Baltazar at the Buenos Aires Tango Festival, it created a great controversy because many did not see it as real tango and even hissed at it while Amelia was singing it…it was leading in the voting on the final day but the controversy forced the judges to give it second place instead…when “Balada Para Un Loco” was recorded, it was a great hit selling over 200,000 in the first week alone


Horacio Ferrer was born June 2, 1933 in Montevideo, Uruguay (Gemini) to a cultured family; his father was a professor of history and his mother, who was eleven years older than his father, spoke four languages…already as a child, he started writing his first poems, simple plays and even milongas to which he accompanied himself on guitar…at the age of 20 his was invited to participate on a weekly radio program called “A Selection of Tangos”…he soon started a groundbreaking magazine called “Tangueando” which he wrote and illustrated himself…in 1970 he wrote “Book of the Tango, Peoples Art of  Buenos Aires”its three volumes and more than 2000 pages is one of the most complete works on tango in history…he has collaborated with Astor Piazzolla on a number of hits; one writer called them “the Lennon – MaCarthy team of tango”


  • CLICK HERE – to hear Roberto “Polaco” Goyeneche sing one of his great hits “Ballada Para Un Loco” with lyrics by Horacio Ferrer and music by Astor Piazzolla


Composer, Leader, Violinist (Sagittarius) – born into extreme poverty in the city of San Jose de Mayo, Uruguay he would grow to become the richest man in tango history so much so that a popular saying arose “he has more money than Canaro”…he left school very early, he had no choice, he had to work; his parents, immigrants from Rovigo, Italy had eight children…he was mesmerized by the violin; his first violin he constructed himself from an old oil can with which he would play on the streets to earn money…years later he would recall with tenderness, the patch quilt cloth case his mother had made for his “violin”; at the age of 18 he finally bought himself a real violin…his first gig was in a seedy bar in the outskirts of Buenos Aires where gun fire to resolve arguments was not uncommon…in 1908 he composed his first tango “Pinta Brava”,  many more were to follow including great hits however many other tangos attributed to him, he actually bought from destitute composers…


No one is sure how many recordings he made but the estimates range from 3500 to 7000…in 1924 he pioneered the idea of having a singer in the orchestra but only to sing the “estribillo” the bridge or the main section of each tango…by 1915 his orchestra was immensely popular; so popular that he created three orchestras with his name which performed simultaneously around Buenos Aires…his one area of failure was the film industry; his film company Rio de la Plata had only one film that made money, “Idolos De La Radio”…….some time in late 1920s he began his affair with the legendary Ada Falcon who was very much in love with him…when he realizes how much money he would lose in a divorce, he reneged on his promise to marry Ada…at one point his wife actually threatened Ada by pointing a gun to her head…it has been speculated that Ada’s sudden  retirement from show business at the height of her career to enter a convent was related to her broken heart and this incident


  • CLICK HERE – to hear the Francisco Canaro Orchestra play “Yo No Se Que Me Han Hechos Tus Ojos” (I don’t understand what your eyes have done to me) with  music and lyrics by Francisco Canaro