The Origin of ‘Volver’

The Origin of ‘Volver’

In 1934, French Argentine composer Carlos Gardel along with lyricist Alfredo Le Pera created the tango ‘Volver.’ It is considered one of the most famous and beautiful tangos as it has become a symbol of nostalgia for all the Argentines forced to migrate from their homeland.

Like many migrants to the United States, Argentines were seeking better economic opportunities. However, it was in the 1970s when many of them fled the ‘Dirty War’ and political and military upheaval. They numbered 44,803 people.

Argentine Tango Classes BrisbaneThe tango was recorded on March 19, 1935 for the film ‘El Dia Que Me Quieras (The Day you Love Me),’ which was also written by Le Pera and starred Gardel. In the movie, Gardel plays Carlos Arguelles, the son of a wealthy man whose only interests in life are business and making money. While trying to succeed in show business he falls in love with a dancer and they elope to marry.

In ‘Volver,’ Gardel sings about the pain and nostalgia of exile. The tango symbolises the fleetingness of life and the destiny of a man who is heading down the path of no return.

Only three months after the recording, on June 24, Gardel and Le Pera perished in a plane crash in Medellin, Colombia. ‘Volver’ is reputed to be his last song for his fans, a melodic and nostalgic piece for the adoring millions in mourning. It has since been surrounded by an atmosphere of veneration and superstition. No orchestra or discerning DJ would play this piece in a tango ball.

This tango has been covered by multiple singers, including Julio Iglesias, Libertad Lamarque, Los Panchos, Andres Calamaro, and Il Divo. In 2006, Pedro Almodovar’s film also entitled ‘Volver,’ utilized the tango, but turned it into a flamenco sung by Penelope Cruz.

Below is an English translation of the lyrics:

I imagine the flickering

of the lights that in the distance

will be marking my return.

They’re the same that lit,

with their pale reflections,

deep hours of pain

And even though I didn’t want to come back,

you always return to your first love

The tranquil street where the echo said

yours is her life, yours is her love,

under the mocking gaze of the stars

that, with indifference, today see me return.

 

To return

with withered face,

the snows of time

have whitened my temples.

To feel… that life is a puff of wind,

that twenty years is nothing,

that the feverish look,

wandering in the shadow,

looks for you and names you.

To live…

with the soul clutched

to a sweet memory

that I cry once again

 

I am afraid of the encounter

with the past that returns

to confront my life

I am afraid of the nights

that, filled with memories,

shackle my dreams.

But the traveler that flees

sooner or later stops his walking

And although forgetfulness, which destroys all,

has killed my old dream,

I keep concealed a humble hope

that is my heart’s whole fortune.

 

To live… with the soul clutched

to a sweet memory

that I cry once again

Styles of Argentine Tango

Styles of Argentine Tango

Within Argentine tango there are various styles you may hear people refer to.  They will say, “Oh, he’s a milonguero dancer,” or “She dances salon style.”  Styles are as unique as dancers and I think it’s rather foolish to try to categorise either. Just remember if you hear terms like ‘salon’, ‘milonguero’, ‘fantasia’, or ‘orillero’, someone is talking about a certain style.

As with any evolving art form, trying to pin down the rules is impossible. Every day, new styles come forward and dancers find ways to play with them and incorporate them into their dance. In the past few years, styles known as ‘nuevo’ and ‘liquid’ have appeared. Who knows what’s coming next? All we know is that it’s coming.

Many tango dancers dance in a range of unique and personal styles all over Buenos Aires and some parts of Argentina. However, they refuse to accept any classification of their dancing by any broad elaborate name. They’d much rather say that they are simply dancing tango in their own individual style or that of their region. In some cases, there is confusion with the styles as some tango dancers identify their own style by a name that other dancers identify as an entirely different style.

Tango Classes near meNevertheless, if we think of style as a way of dancing that closely follows the listed elements but has a number of incompatibilities with other approaches then I guess it’s safe to say that there are a variety of distinguishable tango styles such as: Tango de Salon, Villa Urquiza, Milonguero-Style Tango, Club-Style Tango, Orillero-Style Tango, Canyengue, Nuevo Tango, Fantasia, Tango Escenario, Nuevo Milonguero, and Liquid Tango.

  1. TANGO DE SALON

“Tango de Salon” refers to a plethora of social dance styles that includes Milonguero, Villa Urquiza and as well as Club-Style tangos. These are social dances that are often danced in salons or improper venues instead of the purpose of exhibition. Traditionally, tango de salon dancers are required to respect the line of dance, but they are allowed freedom to have their own styles in terms of embraces and characteristic movements.

In other countries, “salon-style” tango may refer to Tango Fantasia, Villa Urquiza, Tango Escenario or a fusion of these different styles. The combined styles is distinguished to have a looser embrace with a more prominent V than the Villa Urquiza styles. The distance between the partners allows the woman to pivot freely without much independent hip and torso movements.

  1. MILONGUERO

Generally, Milonguero-style tango is danced with a somewhat leaning posture that unites the partners in their torsos from the stomach towards the solar plexus to form a joined axis, at the same time, allowing a slight distance between their feet. It’s an embrace otherwise known as “apilado”. In the embrace, the woman’s right shoulder should be as close to her partner’s left shoulder as her left shoulder is to his right. Her left arm should hang over behind the neck of her partner.

Constant body contact is maintained and the embrace does not loosen even when executing turns or ochos, which limits the partners walking steps and plain ochos until the woman is ready to execute her turns stepping at an angle instead of pivoting.

Milonguero-style tango is identified with the ric-tic-tic rhythm that is distinct in the music of Rodolfo Biagi and Juan D’Arienzo, as well as in other tango orchestras.

  1. CANYENGUE

Canyengue is a form of tango that can be traced back from the 1920s to the early 30s. It is a historical form of tango that may not be accurately captured by the dancers that currently practice it. At the peak of its popularity, women dancers wore long and tight dresses. In this form of tango, the couple’s embrace is close and in an offset V, they move with bent knees and the woman does not execute a cross. Therefore, the steps are much shorter and more frequent in the ric-tic-tic-rhythm. Some Canyengue dangers exaggerate body movements to emphasise their steps.

  1. CLUB-STYLE TANGO

Like Milonguero-style tango, Club-style tango share the same rhythmic sensibilities although it is executed with a more upright posture and separate axes. Its embrace is as close as that of the Villa Urquiza style. The woman is able to rotate more openly and pivot without much independent movement as the couple’s embrace is slightly looser. Like Milonguero-style, Club-style tango is also danced to the ric-tic-tic rhythm that is noticeable in the music of Juan D’Arienzo and Rodolfo Biagi, as well as in other tango orchestras. This style of tango also uses the ocho cortado and other rhythmic figures used in Milonguero-style tango.

  1. VILLA URQUIZA

A tango style named after one of Buenos Aires’ neighbourhoods, Villa Urquiza is generally danced with the couple maintaining an upright body posture and keeping separate axes with their eyes fixed towards their clasped hands. This position creates a slight V impression in their embrace, where the woman’s right shoulder is closer to the man’s right shoulder than her left shoulder is to his right.. More often than not, the couple allows the woman to rotate more freely by loosening their embrace although it is supposed to be closed. The more the woman rotates, the less the embrace needs to be loosened. This style is otherwise known as “Tango Estilo del Barrio” in some neighbourhoods and “Salon-Style Tango” outside of Argentina.

  1. FANTASIA (Show Tango)

This style of tango is influenced mainly by the Villa Urquiza style of tango. Fantasia or Tango Fantasia refers to an exhibition style of tango.  Fantasia is unique for its dramatic poses, ganchos,  high boleos  and thorough use of embellishments. It is danced during breaks in social dances in milongas but is also performed in the stage in which it has evolved into another style of tango as some elements have been added to it subsequently, turning it into an entirely new style called Tango Escenario.

  1. TANGO ESCENARIO (Stage Tango)

Its name means tango danced in stage shows. This style has developed from that of the Villa Urquiza and Orillero styles of tango and has recently drew some elements from nuevo-tango. In this style of tango, the couple dances in an open embrace with exaggerated movements and other elements foreign to the vocabulary of social tango.

  1. ORILLERO-STYLE TANGO

This style of tango is considered to be one of the older styles and basing on its name, it seems that it originated from Buenos Aires’ streets of impoverished rural tenements. It was later referred to the style where the man is dancing around the woman. During what is considered to be tango’s golden age, Orillero-style tango was not accepted in the refined salons of Buenos Aires. To this day, Orillero-style tango has become more like the Villa Urquiza style of tango.

Orillero-style tango is danced with upright body posture. The couple then keeps separate axes with their embrace a typical offset in a V that can either be open or close. The woman is free to move and pivot in the turns without the need for much independent movement between her hips and torso.

When dancing in a close embrace, the couple slightly loosens the embrace in order to make room for the turns. The embrace would not have to be loosened that much if the woman is rotating her hips through the turns independently of her upper torso. What makes it different from Salon-style tango is that it has a more playful embellishment that requires more space and its figures do not strictly follow the line of dance.

  1. NUEVO TANGO

This dancing approach was originally made to be an instructive approach to tango, highlighting the structures where the connections to the elements of tango, as well as the step patterns and new combinations, can be found. The dancers following this approach have developed a style somewhat akin to nuevo tango which is danced in an open and elastic embrace with a posture that is very upright, emphasising the dancers’ axes. This tango style is distinguishable by figures such as linear boleos, volcadas, overturn ochos, single axis spin and cadenas. Such moves are best done in a loose embrace.

  1. LIQUID TANGO

An approach to dancing Argentine tango where the couple’s embrace shifts between open and close in order to allow the combination of different styles of tango such as the club and nuevo styles. We cannot really consider Liquid tango as an independent style of tango dancing as it is considerably similar to nuevo and does not have distinctive separate groups of followers.

  1. NUEVO MILONGUERO

Nuevo Milonguero is a somewhat recent approach to Argentine tango that includes some nuevo movements. Like Liquid Tango, we also cannot consider Nuevo Milonguero to be a separate style of tango as this approach is largely similar to the Milonguero style tango, plus the fact that it does not have a group of followers that is distinguishable. In fact, Nuevo Milonguero can only be considered as Milonguero style’s show version because of its showy elements that does not befit being danced in crowded venues.

Francisco Canaro, A True Star of Tango

Francisco Canaro, A True Star of Tango

Uruguayan composer Francisco Canaro is considered one of the tango world’s most popular artists. His recordings, both traditional tango and milongas, are noted as beautiful and melodic.

Canaro was born on November 26, 1888 into extreme poverty, with seven other siblings. His parents were Italian immigrants. Canaro was given the nickname “Pirincho” when the midwife noticed that his hair has a fuzz and curl like the head feathers of the South American bird of the same name.

The Canaro family moved from River Plate when Francisco was less than 10 years old and settled in the densely populated “conventillos,” an urban tenement in Buenos Aires. Unable to attend school, Canaro instead started working as a newspaper boy, a shoe shiner, a painter, and then as an apprentice at a can factory.

Despite his bitter upbringing, the young Canaro was enthusiastic about music at an early age. His neighbor, a cobbler, was his first teacher, showing him how to play the guitar and mandolin. While working at the factory, he built a violin out of a wooden fingerboard and the remains of an oil can. He taught himself to play this creation. According to Canaro himself, the first tango he played from heart was ‘El Llorón.’

At 18, Canaro made his professional debut as part of a trio in a town called Ranchos, a hundred kilometres outside of Buenos Aires. He started devoting himself to tango when he was introduced to bandoneonist and tango orchestra director Vicente Greco in 1908. Canaro went on to join Greco on several successful tours and produced records.

By 1915, at the age of 26, Canaro began conducting orchestras. His first headline was the first Baile del Internado, which was a comedy ball organized by the hospital interns to make fun of their doctors. The gala was held at the Palais de Glace and here, Canaro premiered ‘El Alacran’ and ‘Matasano.’ In 1916, he was the headliner once again, but for Bailes de Carnival, where he was met with such adoration that he was invited again and again. In 1921, for the Bailes de Carnival, he reunited a 32-piece orchestra, an orchestral mass unknown in tango until then.

Canaro’s music is considered to have reshaped the way society perceived tango at the time. Back then, high society did not entertain tango, at least not until Canaro’s orchestra.

Tango Lessons BrisbaneCanaro pioneered the incorporation of a singer in the tango orchestra in 1924, but only for the main part of the tango or the ‘estribillo.’ The first estribillo used by Canaro was Roberto Díaz. This ushered in the ‘estribillistas era’ from the mid-1920s to the late 1930s.

By 1925, Canaro toured the world, beginning in Paris, where tango was now in fashion. He also traveled to the United States. By 1926, his contracts expired and he was free from commitments. Canaro visited Italy to meet his grandmother.

After his absence, Canaro returned to Argentina. He also dabbled in musical theatre and film. He founded Rio de la Plata productions, although none of his projects proved to be commercial hits.

In 1956, he published his memoirs, ‘Mis 50 Años Con El Tango” (My 50 Years with Tango).’ Canaro was forced into retirement after being diagnosed with Paget’s Disease. He eventually passed in 1964 at the age of 76.

The Origin of Por una Cabeza

The Origin of Por una Cabeza

One of the most popular of Carlos Gardel’s tangos is “Por una Cabeza”. Written in 1935, the song’s title is originally a horse racing term “to lose by a head”. It was co-written by Alfredo Le Pera, just shortly before they were both killed in a plane crash in Columbia on 24 June 1935. The lyrics bemoans a man’s life as it compares losing the horse race to losing with women.

The complete lyrics of the song in Spanish along with its English translation was provided by the late Alberto Paz and his wife Valerie Hart on their website Planet Tango.

In 1935, the song was sang in the movie “The Tango Bar” by Carlos Gardel himself. It’s a fun and entertaining movie to watch even for those who do not understand Spanish because of its humour that is easy to follow.

Por una Cabeza

Songwriters: Carlos Gardel / Alfredo La Pera

 

Por una cabeza, de un noble potrillo

Que justo en la raya, afloja al llegar

Y que al regresar, parece decir

No olvides, hermano

Vos sabes, no hay que jugar

 

Por una cabeza, metejón de un día

De aquella coqueta y risueña mujer

Que al jurar sonriendo el amor que está mintiendo

Quema en una hoguera

Todo mi querer

 

Por una cabeza, todas las locuras

Su boca que besa

Borra la tristeza

Calma la amargura

 

Por una cabeza

Si ella me olvida

Qué importa perderme

Mil veces la vida

Para qué vivir

 

Cuántos desengaños, por una cabeza

Yo juré mil veces no vuelvo a insistir

Pero si un mirar me hiere al pasar

Su boca de fuego

Otra vez quiero besar

 

Basta de carreras, se acabo la timba

Un final reñido ya no vuelvo a ver

Pero si algún pingo llega a ser fija el domingo

Yo me juego entero

Qué le voy a hacer

Por una cabeza, todas las locuras

Su boca que besa

Borra la tristeza

Calma la amargura

 

Por una cabeza

Si ella me olvida

Qué importa perderme

Mil veces la vida

Para qué vivir

 

Only By a Head (English Translation)

By only a head of

a pureblood race colt

that just on the finish

had slowed down to shamble;

and upon riding back

it seems to be saying

forget not this brother,

you know that you shouldn’t gamble

 

By only a head I

was love struck at first sight

with that one coquettish

and cheerful dame

who by pledging with a smile

a love that she’s lying about

she burns all my love

in a blazing flame

 

[Chorus:]

By only a head were

all of the follies;

her lips when she’s kissing

the sadness are dismissing

the sourness make jolly

By only a head that

if she forgets me

won’t matter if I lose

my life that hurts me;

what is there to live?

 

Lots of disappointments,

by only a head all

thousand times I swore that

I won’t fall for this

but each time a passing

look off my feet sweeps me

her burning lips, once more,

I want to just kiss

 

I’m done with the race tracks,

I’m quitting all gambling

a dead heat I don’t want

to ever watch again

but if a young filly

looks sure bet on Sunday

I’ll gamble all I have,

what can I do then!

(chorus)

Argentine Tango Carlos Gardel“Por una Cabeza” is an easy song to dance tango to because of its slow and clear rhythm. Because of this, it become one of the most popular songs played by almost all of the major orchestras during the 1940’s and 50’s.

Even to this day, “Por una Cabeza” is still widely used, especially in Hollywood. In fact, it appeared in numerous scenes in the following movies:

  • Scent of a Woman (1992) – The song was performed by “The Tango Project”, consisting of William Schimmel (accordion), Michael Sahl (piano) and Stan Kurtis (violin). The band also appeared in the scene along with Al Pacino.
  • Schindler’s List (1993) – it suited well with the implication of Oskar Schindler’s “addiction” to women
  • True Lies (1994) – Arnold Schwarzenegger dances to it twice – the first time was with a female spy and second was with his character’s wife.
  • Frida (2002) – it was heard on a radio sung by Gardel
  • Bad Santa (2003, Uncut version)
  • All the King’s Men (2006)
  • Easy Virtue (2008) – Colin Firth and Jessica Biel dances to it sensually
  • Planet 51 (2009)

FUN FACT:

During the tango scene in True Lies, it was discovered that Arnold had two left feet and fought to dance even the simplest of steps so most of the scenes were of him dancing tango from the waist up.

The Beginnings of Couple Dance

The Beginnings of Couple Dance

Couple dancing was originally sequence-based where couples dance the same steps at the same time, except maybe the Boston which was a rhythmic dance that was a more difficult form of the Viennese Waltz but never really became popular. Then came Tango and it revolutionised couples dance into something that we all now know.

Tango really set the standard of couple dancing that is widely known in the world today.  It was the first couple dance in Europe that involved improvisation. It came to Europe around the early 20th century and probably began in France when Argentine sailors arrived in the port of Marseille where sailors danced Tango with local girls. There had been evidence that Tango was danced on stage in Montmartre, Paris in 1905 but it wasn’t entirely felt until 1912, when Paris was taken over by the Tango invasion.

Tango Lessons BrisbaneDuring that time, Argentina became one of the richest countries in the world. It was ranked seventh, even higher than Spain or Italy in terms of average per capita income. Although, the overall standard of living in Argentina was high, the poor became poorer whilst the rich became even richer. It became a trend in well-off families to send their children to Europe to either go to university or simply just to tour lavishly.

As expected, young men frequented places they weren’t supposed to visit and dated women their families would prefer they don’t marry. And it so happened that these young men were pretty good Tango dancers despite the fact that Tango was still not acknowledged by Buenos Aires’ elite society. But when these young men danced in Paris, the upper classes fell in love with it and became an instant hit.

1913 was the year Tango invaded the world. It was the couple dance that everyone was dancing throughout many parts of Europe. But of course, like all great things, there were many who disapproved of it. Nonetheless, Tango had already gained a foothold and grew quickly. Victorian corsets and hooped skirts were gradually changed into less constricting clothing to allow women to move freely when dancing Tango. Vertical feathers in women’s hats came into fashion to accommodate a partner’s embrace. Tulip skirts that opened at the front became the new trend as well as Tango shoes, stockings, hats, dresses, and basically anything that would make dancing Tango easier. This also meant that the majority of the outfits were in orange as it was the colour of Tango.

Tango’s popularity in Paris and throughout the rest of Europe has transformed it into an alluring couple dance that roused the interest of Buenos Aires’ upper class, which eventually swayed them into accepting the dance. And because of this, Tango was re-introduced to Buenos Aires, its original home. This has been evidenced by a book published in Buenos Aires around the First World War which says that it was written to teach Tango as it is elegantly danced in Paris. This turned into a total transformation of the dance as opposed to the tasteless, indelicate dance previously danced by the Buenos Aires’ lower class.

Carlos Di Sarli, The Lord of Tango

Carlos Di Sarli, The Lord of Tango

Carlos Di Sarli earned the nickname ‘The Lord of Tango’ (‘El Señor del Tango’) when his career rose along with the ‘Golden Age of Tango.’ Known for his signature pair of glasses, Di Sarli was a prolific orchestra leader, composer and pianist during his time and well after.

Born on January 7, 1903 in Bahia Blanca in Southern Argentina as Cayetano Di Sarli, he was the eighth child of Italian immigrant Miguel Di Sarli and Serafina Russomano, who was the daughter of the tenor singer Tito Russomano. Di Sarli was exposed to music at an early age. Aside from having a singer grandfather, his brothers were musically involved as well. Domingo was a music teacher, Nicolas became a baritone, and younger brother Roque would become a pianist. Carlos himself took piano lessons.

Their father, Miguel, was the owner of a gun shop and while working here, Di Sarli suffered an accident at the age of 13, costing him an eye. Since then, he could always be seen wearing dark glasses concealing his eyes. Much to the horror of his father and his piano teacher, soon after he recovered from the injury, the young Di Sarli went on tour with a zarzuela company.

Carlos Di SarliIn between running away and making his debut, Di Sarli ended up in the province of La Pampa, where he played the piano to silent films for two years. He eventually went back to his hometown and in 1919, Di Sarli made his debut as orchestra leader at a tea room called the Cafe Express. His orchestra toured for some time, but in 1923, Di Sarli and his younger brother Roque made the move to Buenos Aires.

For the next few years, Di Sarli joined a couple of orchestras. First, Anselmo Aieta, a bandoneonist group. Then, a group led by the violinist Juan Pedro Castillo. In 1926, he joined Osvaldo Fresedo’s orchestra. Fresedo had such an influence over Di Sarli that his tango ‘Viejo Milonguero’ is dedicated to Fresedo.

In 1927, Di Sarli formed his own group, a sextet with José Pécora and David Abramsky on violin, César Ginzo and Tito Landó on bandoneón and Adolfo Kraus on bass. By 1934, Di Sarli left his group and moved to Rosario in Santa Fe province, where he joined a small band with the bandoneonist Juan Cambareri. However, in 1938, Di Sarli returned to Buenos Aires, reformed his band, and made their first recording in 1939. The recording included ‘Corazon,’ which is considered a classic. For the next decade, Di Sarli and his music flourished, recording 155 sides and being popular amongst tango dancers.

However, Di Sarli was not the easiest person to get along with. He has been described as eccentric, reserved and was very much a perfectionist. Due to his eccentricity, there was superstition surrounding his music with some believing that saying his name out loud will bring bad luck. In 1949, his orchestra members walked out on him. But Di Sarli continued recording until illness forced him to retire in 1953. This did not stop him, however, continuing to record until his final side in 1958.

Di Sarli’s musical style has been widely lauded, often described as simple, but elegant and full of nuances. He led his last concert on March 8, 1959 at the Podesa de Lanus club in Buenos Aires. He died of a terminal disease on January 12, 1960.

Sources: http://www.todotango.com/english/creadores/cdisarli.html

http://www.milonga.co.uk/tango/disarli.shtml

http://www.verytangostore.com/legends/carlos-di-sarli.html

https://endretango.com/en/who-was-carlos-di-sarli-and-why-did-he-wear-dark-glasses-all-the-time/

The Origin of La Cumparsita

The Origin of La Cumparsita

Would you believe a 17-year-old composed one of the most recognizable and most recorded tangos of all time? That’s what happened in 1916, when teenager Gerardo Hernan “Becho” Matos Rodríguez had his friend Manuel Barca show Orchestra Roberto Firpo his music.

In his own words, Firpo said of that fateful evening on February 8, “One night at The Giralda, a famous and classic cafe in Montevideo, a young boy–likeable but somewhat timid–approached me and asked if he could talk to me for a few minutes… He left a very modest score with me. It was ‘La Cumparsita.’ I played it on the piano and liked it. After some adjustments to the score I released it with extraordinary success, as much due to the fact that it was a great tango as the fact that its author was a boy of Montevideo. When I returned to Buenos Aires, I released it in the cafes, and Montevideo’s success was repeated.”

Gerardo Matos RodriguezRodriguez was born on April 25,1948 in Montevideo, Uruguay and was the son of the owner of the popular local cabaret Moulin Rouge. He was studying architecture around the time he composed ‘La Cumparsita,” which he wrote on the piano of the Federación de Estudiantes of Uruguay. The tango, whose title translates to “the little parade,” was first played in public in the old Café La Giralda in Montevideo, where the Museum of Montevideo now stands.

Several months after first reading the music, Firpo, in November of 1916, recorded the song for Odeon Records. It was, however, recorded as a B-side and received little success. For many years it was forgotten until on June 6, 1924, at the theatre “A Program of a Night Club.” Each play set their scenes to forgotten tangos and one in particular, involved Juan Ferrari, Enrique Maroni and Pascual Cortusi adding words to ‘La Cumparsita.’ They renamed the song ‘Si Supieras’ (‘If You Know’) without consent from Rodriguez. This version immediately became a hit.

Rodriguez learned of the song’s popularity through orchestra leader Francisco Canaro while they were in Paris. Canaro himself played ‘Si Supieras’ and told Rodriguez, “I told him how it had resurged again and how it was the rage by all orchestras; that Paschal Contursi and Enrique P. Maroni had composed a very pretty scene and adapted to the score and that Carlitos sang it to Gardel with extraordinary success”

What followed was two decades of court battles over royalties. Rodriguez was able to have the song revert its title to ‘La Cumparsita.’ Canaro came up with a binding agreement in 1948, putting an end to the lawsuits. The estates of Contursi and his business partner Enrique Maroni would get 20 percent of all royalties, while the remaining 80 percent would go to the estate of Rodriguez. Future sheet music prints would show lyrics in addition to Rodriguez’ original, lesser known ones.

The original version by Rodriguez:
La cumparsita
de miserias sin fin desfila
en torno de aquel ser enfermo
que pronto ha de morir
de pena.

Por eso
es que en su lecho
solloza acongojado
recordando el pasado
que lo hace padecer.

The little masquerade
of endless miseries parades
around that sickly being
that soon will have died
of shame.

That’s why
on his (death) bed
he sobs, grieving
remembering the past
that causes him this suffering.

Maroni and Contursi’s version:

Si supieras,
que aun dentro de mi alma,
conservo aquel cariño
que tuve para ti…
Quien sabe si supieras
que nunca te he olvidado,
volviendo a tu pasado
te acordaras de mi…

Los amigos ya no vienen
ni siquiera a visitarme,
nadie quiere consolarme
en mi afliccion…
Desde el dia que te fuiste
siento angustias en mi pecho,
deci, percanta, que has hecho
de mi pobre corazon?

Sin embargo,
yo siempre te recuerdo
con el cariño santo
que tuve para ti.
Y estas en todas partes
pedazo de mi vida,
y aquellos ojos que fueron mi alegria
los busco por todas partes
y no los puedo hallar.

Al cotorro abandonado
ya ni el sol de la mañana
asoma por la ventana
como cuando estabas vos,
y aquel perrito compañero
que por tu ausencia no comia,
al verme solo el otro dia tambien me dejo.

If you knew,
that still within my soul,
I keep the love
I had for you…
Who knows, if you knew
that I never forgot you,
returning to your past,
you would remember me…

The friends do not come
not even to visit me,
nobody wants to console me.
in my affliction…
Since the day you left
I feel anguish in my chest,
tell me, woman, what have you done
with my poor heart?

Nevertheless,
I always remember you
with the holy love
that I had for you.
And you are everywhere,
piece of my life,
and those eyes that were my happiness
I search for them everywhere
and I can’t find them.

To the abandoned bedroom
now not even the morning sun
shows through the window
the way as when you were there,
and that little dog [our] partner
that because of your absence would not eat
on seeing me alone the other day also left me.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_cumparsita
https://prezi.com/shdgwbtkys5x/history-of-la-cumparsita/
http://www.verytangostore.com/la-cumparsita.html

Tango Reborn

Tango Reborn

The rebirth of tango, or more popularly referred to as The Tango Renaissance, started in 1983 right after the fall of the military junta in Argentina. Suddenly, Buenos Aires basked in a joyful atmosphere and everyone was in the mood to dance as though an actual veil had been lifted off them. All dance and martial arts classes were filling up all over the city. People wanted to learn Tango all of a sudden when they realised that it’s all right to take pride in being Argentine again. And what better way to demonstrate this pride than to take part in Tango, Argentina’s symbol to the world.

Argentine Tango near meHowever, there had been some setbacks at the start. One of which is that there was no tradition of teaching Tango and that there had been no Tango classes for beginners during its Golden Age. There were virtually no teachers and no standard practices being followed. There was an incessant hunger for mentors that needed to be fed.

To address this unrelenting need, dancers started giving tango classes for those wanting to learn the dance. This is the same scenario everywhere in the world since Tango re-emerged in 1983. People taught not because they thought they were gurus and knew everything but because people asked them to. Aspiring dancers learned tango through going to classes and travelling to Europe. Very few were experienced dancers.

At the beginning of the Tango Renaissance, the first teachers in Buenos Aires were young dancers who didn’t know much about tango. Those who were dancing during the Golden Age did not dance anymore and those who did had been suspicious of strangers. So the first people who danced were newbies. Those who haven’t danced tango or haven’t danced with someone in the Golden Age. One problem was that “teachers” weren’t really teaching tango. Most of what they taught were only things that they had made up on their own.

Eventually, people who had danced in the Golden Age started dancing again after 3 decades of not dancing Tango. Thankfully, they re-discovered their passion for Tango and developed a desire to teach Tango to the new generation of dancers. Miguel and Nelly Balmaceda have played a vital role in re-establishing Tango during the renaissance era. For as much as they could, they tried to stick to the traditional way of teaching tango when organising their beginners’ classes. They only allowed students to dance with teachers until they thought they were ready. Even then, they still had to dance the most basic steps only. Many of today’s most prominent tango dancers were trained by Miguel and Nelly or trained by someone trained by them.

Complex dance steps ruled in the Tango Renaissance. There was an astounding excitement to doing these complicated steps especially when combined with the techniques of traditional Tango. It enhanced the emotional connection that defines the true essence of the dance.

Antonio Todaro was one of the most famous teachers of the renaissance period of tango. He was one of the few who danced Tango before the military regime started. He created challenging steps, incorporating it with the technique of the Golden Age. He frequently toured Europe and taught many of the professional tango dancers we know now. Shortly after his death in 1993, young dancers in Buenos Aires began to steer away from the steps he popularised. A few other dancing styles emerged in the following years.

The dancing of the people who were around during the Golden Age remained the same as they could still go to milongas in the outskirts of Buenos Aires and dance the complicated steps in its most authentic manner. However, by 1995, styles such as “Club Tango” or “Milonguero”, “Short Steps” and “Close Hold” dominated the dancing style of the people who were part of the Tango Renaissance in Buenos Aires.

 

Source: http://www.history-of-tango.com/tango-renaissance.html

Osvaldo Pugliese, The Beginning of Concert-Style Tango

Osvaldo Pugliese, The Beginning of Concert-Style Tango

Osvaldo Pedro Pugliese is regarded as one of the “big four” composers of the Golden Age of tango, together with Juan D’Arienzo, Aníbal Troilo, and Carlo di Sarli. While D’Arienzo was considered “The King of Beat,” Pugliese was hailed as “San Pugliese” or “Saint Pugliese” for his dramatic and passionate melodies. He is also considered to have developed the concert-style tango music.

“Dramatic,” “passionate,” and “lyrical” are some of the words associated with Pugliese’s music. Female dancers would find his violin melodies excellent for decorative footwork. On the other hand, male dancers might have more difficulty as the beat is not as apparent.

Osvaldo PuglieseAt an early age, Pugliese had already been exposed to tango. He was born on December 2, 1905 to Aurelia Terragno and Adolfo Pugliese, the latter an amateur tango flautist. Meanwhile, Osvaldo’s two brothers, Vicente and Alberto, were violinists. The young Pugliese was taught to play the violin by his father and this early training allowed him to join the Odeon Conservatory. Here, he was tutored by maestros like Antonio D’Agostino, Rubione Scaramuzza and Pedro Vicente. Pugliese started playing professionally at the age of 15 as a pianist at Cafe de La Chancha.

In 1921, at the age of 16, Pugliese moved to Buenos Aires, where he met the first professional female bandoneonist in Argentina, Francisca Bernardo Cruz also know by her stage name, Paquita Bernardo. He joined her band, the Paquita Orchestra, as their pianist. They made their debut at a bar, Dominguez, and went around performing at other bars and cafes.

Pugliese eventually left the group and in 1924, joined the Enrique Pollet quartet. Around this time, he wrote one of his most famous compositions, ‘Recuerdo,’ which is considered to be the origin of stylised instrumental tango. The title, which translates to “memory,” is dedicated to Pugliese’s fond memories of his cousins, who would go to La Chancha to hear him play.

He went on to the renowned Pedro Maffia and his Orchestra, which marked the beginning of Osvaldo’s rise to maestro status. The group followed the De Caro school of music characterised by slow and languid phrasing. This would influence Pugliese’s style for the rest of his career.

As the late 1920s and early 1930s rolled on, tango was reaching its peak. During these years, Pugliese was playing at cafes and silent movie houses. He collaborated with musicians like violinist Alfredo Gobbi, bandoneonist Anibal Troilo, Pedro Laurenz, Miguel Calo, and Elvino Vardaro. In 1936, at 31, he fulfilled his dream of directing his own orchestra. He formed a sextet with Alfredo Calabró, Juan Abelardo Fernandez, bandoneonist Marcos Madrigal, Pedro Juan Rolando Curzel, violinist Potenza and Aniceto Rossi on the bass.

In 1939, he put together what’s regarded as one of the best tango orchestras in the world, Orquesta Típica Pugliese. While the lineup of musicians would vary over the years, Pugliese would work with this orchestra for the remainder of his life. The orchestra had a specific style, still following De Caro, with no drums, highly syncopated, bandoneón solos, holding notes slightly longer than expected for dramatic effect (rubato), alternating slow and fast tempos (slargando or slentando). Pugliese coined the term “yumba,” which denotes that the first and third beats should be stressed and the second and fourth beats should be played softly with a bass piano note.

Pugliese made his first recordings in 1943 while traveling the world. Some of his most raved about tangos aside from ‘Recuerdo,’ are La Yumba (1945), Negracha (1948), and Malandraca (1949).

Pugliese was a renowned and committed activist as well. In 1936, he joined the Communist Party of Argentina. This earned him the hostility of those in power and even spent time in jail. While away in prison, he kept on writing arrangements for his tango band. Pugliese was so loved by his musicians that a red carnation would be placed on the piano during his absence.

Pugliese holds multiple distinctions. He is a distinguished citizen of Buenos Aires, a Commandeur de L’Ordre des Arts et Lettres of France, and, was an Honorary Academician of the Academia Nacional del Tango. And, when tension between Pugliese and President Juan Perón’s government was eventually resolved, the great tango musician was awarded The Order of May, Argentina’s highest civilian award.

In July 25, 1995, at the age of 89, Pugliese passed away from a short illness. ‘La Yumba’ was played at his funeral. His legacy continues through his daughter Beba, and granddaughter Carla, both of whom are pianists.

 

Sources: http://www.interlude.hk/front/tango-beyond-piazzolla-ii-osvaldo-pugliese/

http://www.verytangostore.com/legends/osvaldo-pugliese.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osvaldo_Pugliese

 

The Dark Side of Canaro’s ‘Poema’

The Dark Side of Canaro’s ‘Poema’

Canaro, FranciscoFrancisco Canaro’s 1935 recording of the tango ‘Poema’ is considered to be a favourite at milongas (dance salons). Composed by Mario Malfi and lyrics by Eduardo Bianco, this particular recording is sung by Roberto Maida. It has been described as “gently melancholic” and “softly nostalgic.” But, the tango has a darker side to it.

Tango DJ Hermann Nemolyakin has provided us with a deeper insight into ‘Poema.’ Nemolyakin says, “Poema’s lack of acceptance in Buenos Aires wasn’t helped by the dark political undertones of its story, and the fact that its lyrics are a thinly veiled confession of a banished murderer.” Read the lyrics for yourself and see if you can decipher mystery lying under the romantic words.

Poema

Fué un ensueño de dulce amor,

horas de dicha y de querer,

fué el poema de ayer,

que yo soñé,

de dorado color,

vanas quimeras del corazón,

no logrará descifrar jamás,

nido tan fugaz,

fue un ensueño de amor y adoración.

 

Cuando las flores de tu rosal,

vuelvan mas bellas a florecer,

recordarás mi querer,

y has de saber,

todo mi intenso mal.

 

De aquel poema embriagador,

ya nada queda entre los dos,

doy mi triste adiós,

sentiras la emoción,

de mi dolor…

 

Poem

It was a sweet dream of love,

hours of joy and hope.

Yesterday was a golden poem I dreamed,

a vain construction of my heart

that I can never rebuild.

So quickly lost are

our dreams of love.

 

When the roses in your garden flower again

you may remember my love,

and understand my sadness and my pain.

 

Of our intoxicating poem

nothing remains,

So accept my last goodbye

and for one moment

remember all the passion and the pain…

To further understand ‘Poema,’ one must first understand the life of the composer. Bianco was an Argentine who lived in Europe for nearly 20 years. He succeeded in making the Argentine Tango sound Parisian. As for the origin of ‘Poema,’ the story goes that Bianco and Melfi, along with some band members, composed it on a train during a 1932 tour of Germany.

So, did Bianco commit murder? Apparently, in 1924, Bianco was first violinist for an orchestra, which had played at the Teatro Apolo. He learned that the orchestra’s pianist and Bianco’s wife were secretly having an affair. Desperate and jealous, Bianco shot the man. He was jailed and tried but was eventually acquitted thanks to his political connections. Bianco would later leave for Europe, touring successfully for a number of years, performing for kings and heads of states.

Perhaps even darker than being a murder confession, ‘Poema,’ another Bianco composition, ‘Plegaria,’ has been called the ‘Tango of Death’ and it has to do with Bianco’s Nazi-sympathizing associates and praise from the führer himself.

Bianco became friendly with Eduardo Labougle Carranza, the Argentine ambassador for Third Reich Berlin and a staunch anti-semite. Supposedly, both convinced Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels that tango should replace the “racially tainted” jazz music. When Bianco and his orchestra performed before Adolf Hitler, the führer demanded an encore of ‘Plegaria.’ The Nazi leader would find a morbid use for the tango and, in the Auschwitz concentration camp, the prisoner band would be ordered to play it as prisoners were led to the gas chambers. Hence its name, ‘Tango of Death.’

During World War II, Argentina attempted to remain neutral, a cause pioneered by Bianco’s ambassador friend, Labougle. Argentine leaders, however, wished to emulate the Axis Powers’ nationalism and expansion. They were able to quietly install a pro-fascist government in Bolivia after a 1943 coup. But, by January of 1944, Argentina cut its ties with Nazi Germany, but did not declare war (until a year later). While all of this was going on, Bianco was playing for Nazi troops and on Third Reich radio stations. When he left Nazi Germany on a Spanish visa, Bianco underwent investigation from British intelligence. In 1943, he finally returned home, just as tango’s Golden Age was at its peak. Here, Bianco proved he was merely an export of Argentine tango as he failed to compete against local talent.

Canaro, who grew up in Bueno Aires, also toured Europe and chose Paris as his home base. His 1935 recording of ‘Poema’ continues the journey of tango from Argentina to Europe and vice versa, during a time of great political and cultural upheavals around the world. Europeans were delighted by it, but, by this time, the recording did not impress Argentine listers.

 

Sources: https://tangowords.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/poema/

http://www.tejastango.com/terminology.html#T

http://humilitan.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/so-thats-why-poema-is-hard-to-fit-into.html

https://www.tangotolatvia.lv/german-nemoljakin