Tango Composer – Osvaldo Fresedo, ‘The Kid from La Paternal’

As his nickname suggests, tango songwriter and orchestra director Osvaldo Nicolas Fresedo grew up in La Paternal, Buenos Aires, Argentina. He happens to have the longest recording career in tango, spanning from 1925 to 1980. In the course of 55 years, he made 1,250 recordings.

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Fresedo was born on 5 May 1897 into a middle-class family and coming from a wealthy background influenced his artistry. His music was a favourite of the upper-class and aristocratic folks. Fresedo was not born in La Paternal, but his family moved to the somewhat humble neighbourhood when he was ten years old. There, he learned to play the bandoneon.

In 1913, Fresedo started out with public performances with a trio of other youngsters, including his brother, Emilio, who played the violin. They served as entertainment at local parties and played at neighbourhood cafes. This was around the time he was regarded as “El Pibe de la Paternal” or “the kid from La Paternal.”

Two major tango stars became Fresedo’s friends and invited him to play. First was Eduardo Arolas at Montmartre cabaret and Roberto Firpo at the Royal Pigall. In 1916, Fresedo formed a bandoneon duet with Vicente Loduca and recorded the tango “Amoniaco.” A later collaboration with pianist Juan Carlos Cobian would prove to be pivotal for the tango orchestra evolution of the 1920s. He was considered one of the great tango innovators of the 1920s, along with Cobian and Julio de Caro. Their style was characterised refined taste, legatos, nuances and pianos solos aimed for the upper-class. This would become known as the tango of the “New Guard” or “Guardia Nueva.”

Fresedo then went to assemble his own group, first with pianist José María Rizzutti and the violinist Julio De Caro, but they would later become a sextet. In 1921, Fresedo travelled to Camden, New Jersey in the United States for the Victor company. Other musicians on this trip included the pianist Enrique Delfino and the violinist Tito Roccatagliata. During this time, they recorded a few albums with a quartet. Upon his return to Buenos Aires, Fresedo reassembled his sextet. He joined Carlos Gardel on two recordings: the tangos “Perdón, viejita” (composed by Fresedo himself) and “Fea.”

By 1927, Fresedo was so successful that he managed to keep five different orchestras running at the same time. Fresedo worked tirelessly. From 1925 to 1928, he recorded about 600 pieces for the label Odeon. Fresedo’s second era began when he left Odeon and started a larger orchestra with a new style. Roberto Ray, perhaps the most well-known vocalist for Fresedo, joined him during this time. Their recordings are among the most memorable in tango, such as “Vida Mia“, “Como Aquella Princesa” and “Isla de Capri.”

When the 1940s began, a new generation of musicians with new styles rose up. Fresedo tried to adapt, but his style was critiqued for losing the strength of his initial style. His orchestrations became slower, but Fresedo continued to record through the 1930s and 1940s. Fresedo continued to lead orchestras until his retirement in 1980.