Archive for the ‘El tango cuenta su historia’ Category



1. TRASNOCHE, Sexteto Tango
2. SI TE VIERA GARAY, Eladia Blasquez
4. LA CLAVADA, Gran Quinteto Real
5. MI NOCHE TRISTE, Sexteto Tango with Raul Lavie
6. GUAPO Y VARON, Edmundo Rivero


Although the dance known as the tango originated in Argentina, the word didn’t. In 1786, a full century before the emergence of the tango dance in Argentina, the word was being equated with dancing the bamboula in New Orleans. This is the first time the word ‘tango’ appeared in print. Reacting to a complain from Bishop Cyrillo about Africans dancing the bamboula on Sabath, Governor Miro ordered that “los tangos o bailes de negros (the tango, that is, the black’s dance) be delayed until after vespers.

In 1803 the dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy used tango as a variant of tangano , the stone that is used in the game of the same name.

In 1835, Esteban Pichardo, in his dictionary of Cuban voices defined tango as a meeting of blacks born in Africa to dance to the sound of drums.

In Buenos Aires they called tango to the houses where the black performed their dances.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the town hall of Montevideo certified the presence of candombes to which it called indistinctly tambos or tangos, prohibiting them for the sake of public morality, and severely, punishing its practitioners.

By 1899 the dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy added a second definition, celebration and dance of blacks or town folks in America.

The use of the word tango also has origins in some African towns. The slave driver called tango the rendezvous points of slaves in Africa and America.

The Argentine society remained relatively unchanged until 1860 as far as great transformations of the population. It was averse to changes and it had inherited from Spain its conservative nature. The traditional idea was that the nobles couldn’t engage in manual labor, and besides leisure, they ought to dedicate themselves to religious or military activities.

When the children of these native Spaniards took over the governmental functions after the revolution of 1810, they could not change the deep ideology of the dominant class and they only could produce to the social structure lawyers, doctors, clergymen or businessmen.

This brought upon the idea of seeking the arrival of European contingents who could sustain the Argentine development.

The constitutional text of 1853 indicated, “the federal government would foment European immigration and may not restrict, limit nor burden with taxes the entrance in the Argentine territory of foreigners who come to work the land, improve the industries and introduce the sciences and the arts.”

That ingenuous vision of immigration faced reality real soon. The idyllic Europeans that incarnated the values of the civilization did not choose the path of immigration. Those who risked a trip of such magnitude to look for a better destiny were those because of their enormous misery left extremely poor places like Galicia in Spain, Naples, Genoa and the island of Sicily in Italy.

Instead of cult Florentines able to enjoy the works of the Dante, or Spaniards readers of Don Quijote, the souls who arrived in Buenos Aires were generally illiterates, without profession nor trade, who had not had any contact with the millenarian cultures of their countries.

They were men for whom the museums were places prohibited like they were for the gauchos of the Pampas, men who faced a feudal social structure where the land was already distributed among the hands of a few landowners.

The reaction of the oligarchy to the potential political effect of these popular masses was to persecute them. Many displeased immigrants returned to their countries. Others, in spite of being the targets of ridicule and tirades stayed. They did not have another option. They became Argentines and built the country.

They also gave the tango their enormous contribution. They made it nostalgic and melancholic, as the uprooting always is.

Thus, as the Spaniards brought to Argentina their taste for the theater, the Italians contributed their musical passion, their good ear and theirs love for singing.



1. TANGO MIO, Alberto Paz
2. CUIDADO CON LOS 50, Carlos Di Sarli
3. TIERRA QUERIDA, Osvaldo Pugliese
4. PIMIENTA, Osvaldo Fresedo
5. LOS MAREADOS, Hugo Baralis


In the early times the tango was not stranger to the social commentary but its tone was festive and trivial.
Although it lacked a lyric for the argumentation and the message, the anecdotes of the city were recorded in the allegory of the title and the illustration and the song that adorned the title page of the musical score.
The tango kept its joy until the arrival of the professional lyricist who knew how to extract from the misery of its personages succulent benefits of popularity.
The arrival of the tango with a plot framed the end of the glorious age of the old guard and its most outstanding characteristics, Bohemia, interpretative improvisation, primacy of the dance, absence of a singer, survival of the reduced ensembles and amateurism.
Once upon a time happiness climbed over the pink mud walls of the suburb, and it permeated the Sunday clothes of the compadrito and the noisy chit chat of the lasses in the inner door.
The individual and collective failures of the Argentine man who had his greater poet in Enrique Santos Discepolo, contributed enormously to the saddening to the tango.
The old happy tango was left behind buried by that disclosed national sadness, hoping that the Argentines understand that the world is not a filth and that the sun rising every morning is the image of the always renewed joy to live, to live in that beloved land.


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1. RE FA SI, Osvaldo Fresedo
2. DERECHO VIEJO, Osvaldo Fresedo
3. DONDE ESTAS, Osvaldo Fresedo with Blanca Mooney
4. EL ONCE (A DIVERTIRSE), Osvaldo Fresedo
5. DESPUES DEL CARNAVAL, Osvaldo Fresedo with Hugo Marcel
6. MILONGUERO VIEJO, Osvaldo Fresedo


In the cabarets of president Alvear’s era, the tango reached a notoriety that had been denied to it until then.
Julio de Caro and Osvaldo Fresedo were the first exponents of a new form of performing the music of tango .

Similarly, the dance that had become the rage in France while the Argentine aristocracy crossed itself at its mere mention, now was making a triumphal entrance in the halls that the Argentina society had built to exclude the low class from the center of entertainment.

Far away were the uncertain beginnings and the first attempts to create a dance representative of the native pride. In the Argentina of the beginning of the twentieth century there were natives and white immigrants.
The latter ones had better opportunities to make a fortune due to the elitist feeling of the society.
For the natives it was necessary to create as a way to react against a backward social displacement.

The interaction between natives and foreigners were always colorfully marked by ridicule or irony towards the gringo. Whites as well as native browns utilized the dance as a way to emphasize their superiority over blacks and foreigners.

When the bourgeoisie of the first quarter of the century began dancing tango in the halls of the center of Buenos Aires, they made a concerted effort to remove all inference to the plebeian origin of the dance.
The expression “derecho viejo” was coined to define a way to dance the tango without stopping and breaking the vertical posture. That is to say, a new style was born, cleaned up, where the couple danced leaving some light between their bodies.




1. EL CHOCLO, Sexteto Tango
2. EL PORTEÑITO, Los Tubatango
3. EL ESQUINAZO, Los muchachos de antes/Sexteto Mayor
4. EL ENTRERRIANO, Osvaldo Pugliese
5. DON JUAN, Anibal Troilo
6. RODRIGUEZ PEÑA, Donato Raciatti


More than one hundred years have passed since the suburbs of Buenos Aires rocked the cradle of the music that would become synonymous of a nostalgic and sentimental Argentina. With her back bathed by the river with the color of a lion and her chest breathing the untamed air of the Pampas, Buenos Aires , the Silver Queen gave birth to an illegitimate son to whom at first she rejected to maintain her social standing.

Fruit of a forbidden love, of the passion of the man of the outskirts with a city that didn’t belong to him, the tango was rocked in its cradle by malevos and cotorras, men of doubtful morality and women of the underworld.

But that son grew up, matured, and not only forgave its mother city but loved her, idolized her and honored her making her famous around the world, commanding respect and admiration from old and young, rich and poor.

Who educated and nursed that rejected hybrid offspring? Who taught him about life’s chances and misfortunes and the grief and discontent that accompanies pain?

They were the men who saw in the tango their own origins. That in spite of its insolent lyrics and verses and its questionable and blurred origin, went about molding its personality. The men who taught it about eighth and sixty-fourth notes. The men who gave it the 2×4 rhythm that resounded in cabarets and ballrooms of the beginning of the 20th century in Buenos Aires and eventually in the whole world.

They were the priests, the apostles, the masters of the Old Guard.




2. SINFONIA DE ARRABAL, Francisco Canaro with Ernesto Fama
4. NINO BIEN, Francisco Canaro with Tita Merello
5. EL CACHAFAZ, Carlos Di Sarli
6. TINTA ROJA, Anibal Troilo with Francisco Fiorentino


The name Argentina derives from a Latin translation of the Spanish word silver, used by Spanish poets from the Renaissance on. What attracted the Spaniards to the new world in the Southern hemisphere was the lure of the precious metal or of an empire that competed with the Aztecs or the Incas. They found neither because the name of the region had been wrongly chosen. Its only workable, exploitable resource was the active indigenous, native population.

Shortly after the second foundation of Buenos Aires, the population had become a society different from the ones from the interior. The founders gathered a few dozens of docile native indigenous and a small amount of slaves bought from Portuguese merchants, to organize livestock farming and the export of furs. Since cattle activities required less work, they were quickly preferred over agriculture. Nevertheless the hopes for prosperity ended in frustration and many inhabitants of Buenos Aires lived in extreme hardship and poverty like poor devils. Without a shirt on their backs. Their toes showing through their shoes. Living in straw and adobe cabins. Using cattle fur to cover their bodies.

Three centuries later, the honorable descendants of the founders continued looking for a solution to populate the virgin land that like a rebellious maid dared to be conquered with manliness audacity as well as loyalty and respect. Useless by heritage to work the land by themselves, the Patricians and oligarchs continued dreaming about presenting to their British masters an Argentina worthy of becoming a gem of the English crown. Once again they resorted to immigration thinking that the millenarian cultures of Europe rooted in old towns would transfer to a land populated, as they described, by barbarians and savages.

Those who arrived were as “barbarians” as those that were already there. That is how the ruling elite called those who came with a desire to adopt the new motherland. Who wanted a right to work, free education and the opportunity to build a prosperous future for their children and the children of their children.

The literature and symphonies that the Europeans were supposed to infuse in the new Argentina at the end of the 19th century ended up being a humble example of artistic expression that was born out of the necessity of the men of Buenos Aires to express their uprooting, their solitude, and their pain by the rejection they experienced. To express their nostalgia for a mother country that belonged to them. To be accepted as one accepts the prodigal son.

The symphony that was born out of the hybrid population of Criollos, Tanos, Gallegos, Judios, and the mixture of native and foreign rhythms is the symphony that today generates respect and admiration for the Argentinean brand around the world. The symphony of the suburb.




1. CANZONETA, Jorge Falcon
2. ESTRELLA, Sexteto Tango with Raul Funes
3. LA PAYANCA, Los muchachos de antes
4. EL ENTRERRIANO, Anibal Troilo
5. RACING CLUB, Alfredo Gobbi
6. LA MOROCHA, Blanca Mooney


This is how celebrated poet Carlos de la Pua observed the drama of the immigration at the beginning of the twentieth century,
They came from Italy, they were just twenty years old, carrying their entire fortune in their luggage.
And without respite, between disappointments, they grew old without any advantage.
Their lips never open with reproach. Always consequent, always toiling, they spent the days, they spent the nights, the old man at the forge, the old woman washing.
They had children The sons were malicious. Their daughters, conceited.
The boys are drunk, spurts, assassins. And the women are streetwalkers and dwellers of the night. And poor old parents kept working. They never showed weakness for the daily chores.
But sometimes, when she’s alone, hand washing the laundry, the tears burn her eyes.

It’s not easy to explain to which extent the Creoles Italianated themselves or the Italians went native. In 1895 49% of the population were of Italian origin. That number diminished to 40% by1914.

The Italian contribution to the tango is of first magnitude. To execute tangos, to contribute to its
development, and to invent it, was a way to make a living. But they also demonstrated a desire to assimilate into the country, its customs, its rites. However, in spite of the desire to integrate as soon as possible to the new reality, their nostalgia was very strong.

And often in the nights of the tenements, and in spite of being ridiculed by the compadritos on the patio, the tano returned to his mandolin, to his accordion and intoned songs of the old one country to which he could only go back in his dreams.

The old guard of the tango was heavily influenced by Italians and sons of Italians.
Enrique Santos Discepolo was the son of a Neapolitan. Vicente Greco, Ernesto Ponzio, Augusto Berto, Roberto Firpo, Juan Maglio Pacho, Samuel Castriota, Francisco Lomuto, Francisco Canaro, Sebastian Piana and the brothers Francisco and Julio De Caro were all children of Italians.




1. ESTAMPA DEL 900, Romeo Gavioli
2. MALA JUNTA, Osvaldo Pugliese
3. MILONGA DEL 900, Emilio Ramil
4. ZAPATITOS DE RASO, Oscar Larroca
5. EL ESQUINAZO, Juan Cambareri
6. ALMA EN PENA, Anselmo Aieta
7. COMO ABRAZAO A UN RENCOR, Horacio Salgan with Angel Diaz


The origins of the tango music and dance are uncertain. There are no documents or witnesses to help reconstruct its true birth. However there is enough historical material that allows us to imagine how must have been the city of Buenos Aires sixty years after the Declaration of Independence.

A fierce fight between the provinces and the port city had spilled Argentine blood on the battlefields. In 1873, the National Army, fresh from exterminating the insurgency in the provinces, introduced the Remington rifle to its arsenal, and used it efficiently to exterminate the indian population that had been limiting the expansion of the Buenos Aires landowners.

In spite of great opposition, Buenos Aires was declared the capital city of Argentina. Economically dependent from Great Britain for its exports of agriculatural products, politically ruled by an elite culturally dominated by France, and with the majority of its labor force resulting from immigration, the Buenos Aires society set the frame were the tango was going to be inserted.


This is the first broadcast of the series EL TANGO CUENTA SU HISTORIA, half hour segments dedicated to highlight the history of the tango through its music. You don’t need to understand Spanish to enjoy it, but those who are fluent in the language of the tango will find the program entertaining and educational.



1. EL CHOCLO, Sexteto Mayor with Alba Solis
2. LA CANCION DE BUENOS AIRES, Osvaldo Pugliese with Abel Cordoba
3. PATOTERO SENTIMENTAL, Carlos Di Sarli with Mario Pomar
4. MALEVAJE, Carlos Gardel
5. JUAN PORTEñO, Edmundo Rivero
6. FUEYE, Anibal Troilo
7. CAMBALACHE, Julio Sosa


For over a century, the tango has been the reflection of the country who gave it its origin. The music of tango was the result of a mixture of Creole and imported rhythms. The interracial blending of Italian, Spaniards, Jews and Creoles generated a type of Argentine man whose musical mirror is the tango. That new Argentino inherited two major attributes from the millions of immigrants that arrived to Buenos Aires in less than one hundred years: resentment and sadness. Thus, Discepolo’s description of the tango as a sad thought that people dance.

To deny the citizenship of the tango is to deny to existence of Buenos Aires. Being a hybrid product of the outskirts of the fledging city, Buenos Aires itself was the product of massive foreign population since the 16th century.