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Argentine Tango Composer, Lucio Demare

Composer, orchestra director and musician Lucio Demare was born on 9 August 1906 in Buenos Aires to a family of entertainers. His father, Domingo Demare, was a violinist and brother Lucas, would become a prolific film director. Young Lucio first devoted himself to the bandoneon and then to the piano. He studied the latter with Italian pianist and music teacher Vicente Scaramuzza.

As early as eight years old, Demare was playing the piano in movie theaters, accompanying silent films. By eleven years old, he was hired to play for the singer María Magdalena Nile del Río or better known was “Imperio Argentina.” He joined an orchestra fronted by bandoneonist Nicolas Verona and together, they debuted his pasados “Flores de mi tierra” and “Banderillas al cabre” and foxtrots “Potencia” and “Mister Bohr.”

In 1926, Demare joined the jazz orchestra of Eleuterio Iribarren and it was around this time that he began to study the aspects of tango, composing the songs, “La comadrona” and “Rio de oro.” He categorised these as “tango romanza.” That same year, Francisco Canaro summoned Demare to join his group in Paris. There, Demare premiered the tangos “Dandy” and “Mañanitas de Montmartre” with lyrics by Agustín Irusta and Roberto Fugazot in the cabaret Les Ambassadeurs.

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Demare split from Canaro in 1927 to form his own group with singers Agustin Irusta and Roberto Fugazo. The trio made their debut at Teatro Maravillas in Madrid. The three of them went to star in some Spanish films. In the 1933 film “Boliche,” Demare played a blind musician. According to Demare himself, the three of them “never saw a dime” for their work as the movie distributor took it all. They had two long and successful tours across Central and South America, then had a second European season. In 1936, Demare finally returned to Buenos Aires.

He continued to do musical work in the movies, though, and was repeatedly awarded by Argentina’s Academia de Artes y Ciencias Cinematográficas (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) Municipalidad de Buenos Aires. His brother Lucas directed the 1942 film “El viejo Hucha,” which Lucio made musical, premiering the tango “Malena.” The brothers worked together again that same year, when Lucas directed “La guerra gaucha,” which won first prize from the Municipalidad de Buenos Aires and distinction from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Argentina.

His trio act with Irusta and Fugazo made a brief reappearance, performing with Canaro in the comedy film “Mal de amores” and playing the piano for Canaro’s orchestra when he had two pianists at the same time.

By 1938, Demare put together his own orchestra, teaming up with Elvino Vardaro. The following year, he and Varadaro parted, but Demare continued his career as bandleader. He recorded 62 numbers with singers Juan Carlos Miranda, Raúl Berón and Horacio Quintana.

Demare’s final years as a professional saw him as a soloist at the nightclub Cambalache with the singer Tania. His final venture was the Angiería Malena al Sur that he founded in the Giuffra passage in the Buenos Aires neighbourhood of San Telmo. On 6 March 1974, Demare passed away in the sanatorium where he had been admitted to two weeks before. He had been ill for months, but in his obituary, he was described as “sick, weak, but not yet beaten.”

Argentine Tango Composers eBook
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