There has always been controversy as to where Carlos Gardel was actually born, whether it was in Toulouse, France or Tacuarembo, Uruguay, he grew up in Argentina and became an Argentine citizen in 1923. He died in an air crash in Medellin, Colombia. Carlos Gardel grew up in the Abasto neighbourhood where the fruit and vegetable market functioned. The Art Deco building is today a popular shopping mall. He was soon recognized as a great singer and people called him El Morocho del Abasto; Poet Jose Betinotti soon gave him a new nickname : El Zorzal Criollo ( literally “creole shrush” ) and asked him to sing at political meetings. He was also known as “the Dumb” (“El Mudo”) which was very fine humor and was a way of referring to his exceptional voice. He attended the Salesiano School in Buenos Aires and was a school mate of Ceferino Namuncura a future Argentine saint.
In 1902 whilst being a stage hand at the La Victoria theatre he had the chance to hear Italian baritone Titta Ruffo and the Spanish Zarzuela singer Sagi Barba.
In 1911 a musical duel was organized between Carlos Gardel and the Uruguayan Jose Razzano on Guardia Vieja Street in the Abasto , Neither was declared the winner but, instead they started singing together and this partnership would last for the next fifteen years. Soon afterwards, Carlos Gardel made his first records for Columbia Record ( Casa Taggini ). He was shot during a fight whilst exiting the Palais de Glace tango hall in the Recoleta neighbourhood in 1915. He would sing the rest of his life with a bullet in his left lung. Two years later he stars in the silent film Flor de Durazno.
In 1923 having already become a tango star, he goes on tour with Razzano and the artistic Company Rivera- De Rosas singing in Uruguay, Brazil and Spain, making his debut at the Apolo Theatre in Madrid. In the mid 1920’s Razzano takes on a managerial post and Gardel goes on tour again to Spain in 1925 and France in 1928 and stars in films for Paramount. He also makes his debut at the Florida Cabaret in Paris with great success and makes several records. In 1929 he visits Italy briefly and February 5 he performs at the Paris Opera to standing ovations. On his return to Buenos Aires, he makes his debut at the Empire Theatre and then returns to Spain performing at the Principal Palace in Barcelona and Teatro Avenida in Madrid and, also starts filming the short musical flicks which would make him so famous.
He would still return to France in 1930 where he films for French Paramount the film “Luces de Buenos Aires “.
After a short stay in Buenos Aires, he goes back to Europe but without his guitar players. This tour takes him to the Cote d’ Azur, Italy, London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, and Barcelona. Again he stars for Paramount making “Esperame”, “La Cosa es Seria” and “Melodia de Arrabal”.
In these films, the poet and guitarist Alfredo Le Pera makes his entrance into Gardel’s career a partner with whom he would write many tangos : MI BUENOS AIRES QUERIDO,SILENCIO, VOLVER, EL DIA QUE ME QUIERAS and others. In 1933 he comes back to Buenos Aires and tours Argentina and Uruguay with his guitars, Barbieri, Riverol, Vivas and Pettorossi.
His adoring public would never see him again : on 7 November 1933 he travels to Barcelona and Paris for a short time and then on to the United States making his debut at NBC in New York on 31 December.
In 1934 he films “Cesta Abajo”, “Mi Buenos Aires Querido” and “Tango in Broadway” for the New York Paramount Studios. He returns to France briefly at the end of 1934 to act for NBC and film Paramount’s musical “Cazadores de estrellas” (Stars Hunters) with Bing Crosby, Richard Tauber and Ray Noble amongst other greats. In 1935 he stars in “El día que me quieres” and “Tango Bar” where he sings his greatest hits. In April he starts his fateful last tour to Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Cuba, Aruba, Curacao, Colombia, Panama and Mexico which was never to be completed.
On 24 june 1935 Carlos Gardel, Alfredo Le Pera and some other musicians like Indio Aguilar died in a crash between two airplanes about to take off at Olaya Herrera Airport in Medellin, Colombia.
Carlos Gardel was at the climax of his acting and singing career and millions of admirers mourned him. “The creole Shrush” had won fame and glory and his fans would say: “Gardel sings even better with every passing day…”All over Latin America people repeat the phrase “20 años no es nada….” (“20 years are nothing … “ ) taken from his tango hit VOLVER. He was buried at the Chacarita cemetery in Buenos Aires.
There are more than 700 hundred recordings by Carlos Gardel. He recorded not only tangos but also folk music, milongas, zambas, rancheras, tonadas, styles, etc. he even recorded some fox trots in England as well as traditional songs in French and Italian.
Astor piazzolla was born on 11 March 1921 in Mar del Plata, Argentina. He begins to study bandoneon in 1930 and then piano with Serge Rachmaninov with the aim of adapting works written for piano to bandoneon. Carlos Gardel invites him to play for him in his film “El Día que me quieras” and in 1937 he returns to Argentina and starts his career as bandoneon player in Anibal Troilo’s famous orchestra. Astor tries to take bandoneon out of tango and give the instrument its classic identity back.
In 1952 he wins the first Composition Prize in France and the French Government honours him with a scholarship to study with Nadia Boulanger. She encourages him to continue with his own particular style, Known as the PIAZZOLLA music. After this French period, Astor forms two groups : “The Buenos Aires octet and the string orchesta” and they both revolutionize the urban music even though they receive ruthless criticism. Recording companies and the media boycott his work and so he returns to New York in 1958. Two years later he is back in Argentina and forms a quintet being convinced as he is, that tango is a music genre to be listened to and not to be danced. He gives several concerts, records and goes on a tour of Argentina, Brazil and the United States.
In 1965 the cooperates with JORGE LUIS BORGES and creates music to many of his poems. His record “El Tango” comes out this year. In 1967 he writes “María de Buenos Aires “ together with Horacio Ferrer and then composes “Tangazo” on request from Maestro Calderon, the director of the Musical Ansamble of Buenos Aires and who plays it during his tour of the United States. After working with Ferrer, Piazzolla starts a new experience called “Tango Canción”.
In 1969 the new “Balada para un Loco” becomes a great world success and this event brings him closer to great public. The appreciating public grows and recognizes in Piazzolla the authentic expression of the music of Buenos Aires. His fame soon spreads to the rest of Latin America.
On 17 August 1972 Piazzolla plays at the famous Colon Theatre; this event prevents him from writing the music for Bernardo Bertolucci’s film Last Tango in Paris for which he ends up writing only two themes “Jeanne & Paul” and “El Penultimo”. In 1974 Gerry Mulligan the great jazz player and Piazzolla work together and create “Summit”. In 1968 he records with Gary Burton at the Montreaux Jazz Festival the “Suite for vobraphone and new Tango Quintet” which awakens the admiration of many great Jazz solo players like Pat Metheny, Keith Jarret, Chick Corea, who would ask him to produce new works.
In 1989 the Jazz magazine Down Beat names Piazzolla as one of the best instrumental players in the world.
During his last years Piazzolla preferred to play solo, accompanied by a symphonic orchestra though he occasionally played with his quintet. He tours the United States, Japan, Italy, Germany, France and Latin America spreading the glory of the music of Buenos Aires.
His last recording “5 Tango Sensations” was at the top of classical music charts for over a year. Astor Piazzolla is one of the few composers who managed to record and perform in concerts close to the totality of his work that is, 50 records. He wrote over 300 tangos in his last 10 years plus 50 musical sound records for films, amongst them for Marco Bellochio’s Henry 4th, Jeanne Moreau’s Lumiere, Alain Delon’s Armaguedon, Pino Solanas’ Sur and El Exilio de Gardel. He received a Cesar prize for best film music and wrote music for theatre performances and ballet as well.
In 1993 Los Angeles, Astor Piazzolla was nominated for the Grammy Awards in the Best Instrumental Composition. International critics considered his work OBLIVION as one of the most beautiful of his creations. On 4 August 1990 Astor Piazzolla suffered a cerebral accident in Paris and died two years later, on 4 July 1992 in Argentina.
When Astor Piazzolla first heard this musician, he announced that he would abandon tango as he thought that he would never be able to make arrangements like those made so perfectly by Salgan. Salgan started his career at 16 playing at a Villa del Parque cinema. He formed his own orchestra in 1944 and the great singer Edmundo Rivero sang in it. After his first two orchestras were disbanded due to disagreements with record companies, Salgan got together with guitar player Ubaldo de Lio and they made a famous duet as Salgan had a sound which was influenced by Jazz harmonies with a brilliant, unmistakable touch and De Lio was great with the electric guitar. Their cooperation was quite unique.
In 1960 the Quinteto real was formed with Salgan, Pedro Laurenz, Enrique Mario Francini & Rafael Ferro. Later it was called Nuevo Quinteto Real When Leopoldo Federico replaced Laurenz after the latter’s death. Some of their best compositions were “A Fuego Lento”, “La llamo silbando” & “Don Agustín Bardi” amongst others.