Angel D’Agostino

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Argentine tango orchestra leader and pianist Angel D’Agostino did not achieve the same recognition as the likes of Anibal Troilo, Carlos Di Sarli, Osvaldo Fresedo or Juan D’Arienzo, but he was still a respected and admired figure in tango. D’Agostino was one half of “Los Dos Angeles” (“The Two Angels”). Jose Angel Lomio or Angel Vargas the singer of the two was also called “El Ruiseñor de las Calles Porteñas” (“The Nightingale of the Buenos Aires Streets”).

Before he became a professional in the tango scene, he was born Angel Domingo Emilio D’Agostino on 25 May 1900 in Buenos Aires. He was born into music, with a father and uncles who were all musicians. There was a piano at home that grew up playing often. Musicians Manuel Aróztegui and Adolfo Bevilacqua were frequent visitors and the latter’s tango, “Independencia,” made its debut at D’Agostino’s home in 1910. The young D’Agostino studied at a conservatory and even played in public. Their group was a trio, which included his neighbour Juan D’Arienzo. They were infantile at the time and when they weren’t paid for their performance at the Zoological Garden, they started a fire, which was soon put out.

D’Agostino quit high school, choosing to focus on music. He played for aristocratic families’ parties and at a night local, where he tried different rhythms, like ragtime. In 1920, he assembled his first orchestra, playing a mix of tango and jazz. One of his musicians was Agesilao Ferrazzano, considered by D’Agostino as the best tango violinist. Others included Juan D’Arienzo, Anselmo Aieta and Ciriaco Ortiz. When silent films were playing, D’Agostino’s group was one of the first orchestras to play at the cinemas.

The cabaret Palais de Glace, among others, hired his orchestra group, but they never went on tour. Supposedly, this was due to D’Agostino’s mysterious behaviour. He was something of a character in Buenos Aires. He was a skilled gambler and stubborn bachelor. Eva Peron once gifted him a clock, one of three of a unique design.

Tango - Angel D'agostino and Angel VargasIn 1932, D’Agostino met Angel Vargas, but they did not team up until 1940. Together, they recorded 93 pieces. In 1934, D’Agostino collaborated with Aníbal Troilo and the singer Alberto Echagüe to form an orchestra strictly dedicated to tango. There was also a time during the 1930s when he performed in an orchestra under the name “Carlo Vargas.”

D’Agostino’s style has been described as “folk-like” and “simple,” but he succeeded because of his clear language and simplicity. Angel Vargas’ voice, considered sweet and charismatic, allowed for an expression that made the audience understand the lyrics. D’Agostino himself described his style: “I shaped my orchestras with two conceptions that I never gave up: respect for the melodic line and rhythmic emphasis to make the dancing easier. When the singer breaks into the scene and displaces the musician from the spotlight, the orchestra was structured in such a way that music and singing did not interrupt the possibility of dancing. For that, the singer had to turn into one more instrument, a privileged instrument, but not apart.”

On 16 January 1991, D’Agostino passed away. He promised his friends he would die alone and he kept it.

The Man Who Revolutionised Tango – Astor Piazzolla

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Once described as “the world’s most foremost composer of tango music,” Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla established nuevo tango (new tango), a blend of jazz, classical music, and tango.

Nuevo Tango BrisbanePiazzolla was born on March 11, 1921 in Mar del Plata, Argentina. His parents were Italian immigrants Vicente ‘Nonino’ Piazzolla and Assunta Manetti. At birth, Piazzolla’s right leg was twisted due to polio and he underwent repeated operations until it was fixed, albeit one leg was slightly shorter than the other.

In 1925, the family moved to New York, where they lived until 1936. They first went to New Jersey, then Manhattan, near Little Italy. While the young Piazzolla adjusted well enough to American life, he was expelled from school for fighting and consequently earned the nickname ‘Lefty’ because of his left-hand punch.

It was around this time when he received his first bandoneon at age eight. He learned to play this instrument along with the piano. Initially, Piazzolla was not argentine tango classes near mekeen on the gift. In one interview, he said, “[My father] brought it covered in a box, and I got very happy because I thought it was the roller skates I had asked for so many times. It was a let-down because instead of a pair of skates, I found an artifact I had never seen before in my life. Dad sat down, set it on my legs, and told me, ‘Astor, this is the instrument of tango. I want you to learn it.’ My first reaction was anger. Tango was that music he listened to almost every night after coming home from work. I didn’t like it.”

In 1929, The Great Depression struck and the family moved back to Mar del Plata in 1936, only to return to New York nine months later. At 11, Piazzolla began playing his bandoneon on stage and started taking lessons with Andres D’Aquila, an Argentine pianist. He also made his first recording, ‘Marionette Spagnol,’ and composed his first tango, ‘La Catinga,’ which has never been recorded.

Piazzolla was introduced to jazz in New York, when he would sneak into clubs, where Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Benny Goodman and other jazz icons would play. Meanwhile, it was pianist and neighbour Bela Wilda, who taught him the piano and introduced him to classical music. One of Piazzolla’s earliest and long-lasting influences was Johann Sebastian Bach. Wilda even taught him to play Bach on the bandoneon.

Argentine Tango Classes BrisbaneAt age 12, Astor Piazzolla’s life would change. It was 1933 and he learned one of his idols Carlos Gardel was in town. Piazzolla went to Gardel’s building and what followed next was something straight out of a movie. Gardel’s assistant was outside and had left his key inside the room. Piazzolla volunteered to climb the fire escape and went in through the window to wake the sleeping Gardel. Turns out, it was lyricist Alfredo Le Pera. One thing led to another and the two became good friends. Piazzolla eventually became Gardel’s translator and his bandoneon player.

The Piazzolla’s moved back to Argentina in 1937 and the teenage Piazzolla immersed himself in tango. By the time he was 17, he moved to Buenos Aires and was invited to play the bandoneon in one of the most prestigious tango orchestras at the time, the Anibal Troilo Orquestra, and eventually became their arranger.

Piazzolla formed his own orchestra in 1946, the Astor Piazzolla Y Su Orchestra Tipica or commonly referred to as ‘The 1946 Band’. During this time, he composed his first “formal” tango, El Desbande as well as scores for films. In 1949, Piazzolla started in earnest his musical experiments, one of which, titled ‘Buenos Aires,’ was submitted to the Fabien Sevitzky Competition, where it won first prize. When the piece was performed by Sevitzky, however, it was met with negative reaction, with many complaining a bandoneon had no place in an orchestra.

Piazzolla travelled to France for his Paris Conservatory scholarship. Here, he played one of his tango-classical experiments, ‘Trifunal,’ for the great music educator Nadia Boulanger and she encouraged him to press on. And so, in 1955, tango nuevo was born with the formation of the group Octeto Buenos Aires. Even with growing criticism, Piazzolla carried on, touring the world with his unique blend of tango, jazz, and classical music. His favourite expression for tango nuevo was the bandoneon, violin, bass, piano, and electric guitar.

After a period of great productivity, Piazzolla had a heart attack in 1973. Shortly after, he moved to Milan, Italy and a year later he composed the infamous hit, ‘Libertango.’ This symbolised his break from classical tango to something new.

In 1985, he was named an exceptional citizen of Buenos Aires and in 1986, received the Cesar Prize for his score of the film ‘El Exilio de Gardel.’ One of his most well-known performances was in 1987 in Central Park in New York to a crowd of over 4,000. In 1990, Piazzolla suffered a massive stroke and two years later, the genius Tanguero died in Buenos Aires on July 4. He leaves behind more than 1,000 works and the legacy of having revolutionized tango forever.

Osvaldo Pugliese, The Beginning of Concert-Style Tango

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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