On June 24 we celebrate the genius and star, Singer, actor, composer and co- author Carlos Gardel. The man who was artistically known as “Carlitos”, “El Zorzal Criollo”, “El Morocho del Abasto”. This time, we Evoque his eternal presence through a life and trajectory summary*.
Carlos Gardel was born in Toulouse, France, December 11, 1890. He didn´t know his father and his mother was Berta Gardés and he was baptized as Charles Romuald Gardés.
In 1893 his mother arrived at Argentina with her Little son who was almost 2 years old. His childhood took place in the Abasto neighborhood, which later earned him the nickname “El Morocho del Abasto”. His first school years went by in different schools, San Carlos and San Estanislao, abandoning high school by second year, in 1906. His passion was singing, and this was uplifted by payador José Betinotti, who would name him “El Zorzal Criollo”. He started by performing in different political centers and bars.
When the May Revolution took place (1910), he was the star singer in the O’Rondemann Café, owned by the Traverso brothers. In 1911, alongside José Razzano (Singer at café El Pelado del barrio de Balvanera) he creates a duet known as Gardel-Razzano, that would make a mark in his artistic career. In 1912 they incorporate guitar player Francisco Martino, becoming a trio that would later participate in the festivals of La Casa Suiza (on the street Rodríguez Peña 254). Afterwards, Gardel is called by the Casa Taggini to record his first discs, under the record company Columbia Record. On those times his repertoire was composed by folkloric songs, not tangos.
In 1913 the trio becomes a quartet when singer Saúl Salinas joins them as they tour through different locations in Buenos Aires. Salinas would later leave the band and they rename themselves Terceto Nacional and in December 1913, Martino parts, leaving the remains of what would become the “Dúo Nacional Gardel Razzano”. On December of that same year they make their debut at Cabaret and Restaurant “Armenonville”, while singing “criollan” songs.
On January 8, 1914 the duet makes its debut in the Teatro Nacional de Buenos Aires and since then, they started to sing in every known porteño theatre, touring through the most important Argentine cities, such as Rosario, Santa Fe and Cordoba.
In 1915 they make their debut in Uruguay, in the Teatro Royal de Montevideo, and on that same year they start touring through Brazil, where Gardel would meet his great idol, Italian tenor Enrico Caruso. By the end of 1915 Gardel is involved in a shooting where he gets a bullet in his lungs, parting him from singing for a long time. That bullet would stay forever there. Around those times, guitar player José Ricardo, nicknamed El Negro, joins the duet. In 1916, already healed, he joins Razzano to perform in Mar del Plata.
The following year, he decided to sing a tango publicly in the Teatro Empire of Buenos Aires, on the release of the film “Mi noche triste” by Samuel Castriota and Pascual Contursi. Since then, he would include tangos in his repertoire.
On April 9, 1917 the Casa Glücksmann hires them to record. He stars in the film “Flor de Durazno” and alongside Razzano he tours Chile. From 1918 to 1922 the duet works intensely in theatres around Buenos Aires, Montevideo and every major city in Argentina. By 1921 the duet is joined by guitar players José Ricardo and Guillermo Desiderio Barbieri. By 1923 Gardel was fully immersed in tango and with Razzano, and the Compañía Rivera-De Rosas, they start a tour that would take them to Mar del Plata, Montevideo, Brazil and Spain, making their debut in the Apolo theatre in Madrid.
In 1924 he returns to Buenos Aires and sings on Radio LOW Gran Splendid, recording for the first time, alongside Francisco Canaro´s orchestra and one year later he would do the same with Osvaldo Fresedo´s orchestra. The duet performs for the last time in the city of Rafaela, Santa Fé, Argentina.
And from 1925 onwards, Gardel becomes a soloist, travelling through Spain with the Compañía Rivera-De Rosas. He makes his debut on November 5, 1925 on the Teatro Goya, in Barcelona, where he records his first electronic system records. Back in Buenos Aires on November 8, he performs the pasodoble “Puñadito de sal”.
On November 1927 he returns to Spain and on January of the following year he sings on the Radio Catalana, recording once more in Barcelona, and later he would travel through Spain.
In 1928 he returns to Buenos Aires, where Uruguayan guitarist José María Aguilar would join the band.
After a brief stay through Buenos Aires and Montevideo, they travel to France, making their debut at the Fémina Theater in Paris on September 30, 1928. In October they debut at the cabaret Florida, Paris, with huge success and he also recorded some records. On January 1929 a brief tour through Italy and on February 5, back in Paris, performing in the Paris Opera and later on the Cote d´ Azur where he makes a triumphal stamp.
On March he returns to Paris and he performs on the Teatro Empire, leaving behind some recordings, he later travels to Spain, where he performs in Barcelona´s Principal Palace and in the Teatro Avenida of Madrid, city where guitar player José Ricardo decides to leave the group. By 1929, he returns to Buenos Aires, filled with glory, alongside Barbieri and Aguilar. His success unfolded upon the coast of the Río de la Plata, recording records and performing in his short film movies by 1930.
In 1930 he makes a new journey to France, he performed in the Empire in Paris and the next year in the Mediterranean Palace, in Niza, joined by the guitars of Barbieri and Riverol, without Aguilar, who had returned to Buenos Aires.
On March he returns to the Empire in Paris and later (for several months) he would perform in the Paris Palace.
He films in Joinville, under the French Paramount the movie “Luces de Buenos Aires”. He returns to South America and after a short stay in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, he goes back to Europe without his guitar players
Between the end of 1931 and August 1932, Gardel tours through the Cote dÁzur, Italy, London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin and Barcelona.
Between September and November, he performs in the movie film “Esperame” for French Paramount, and alongside Imperio Argentina “La casa es seria” and “Melodía de arrabal”. In these movies, Gardel was joined by Alfredo Le Pera, and their first tangos are born: “Melodía de arrabal”, “Silencio”, “Me da pena confesarlo”, etcetera.
By 1933 they return to Buenos Aires. The guitar tea mis composed by Barbieri, Riverol, Vivas and Pettorossi. They work in Montevideo, and throughout Argentina and Uruguay. This would be the last time his audience would see him.
His last recording in Buenos Aires was on November 6, 1933 when he recorded “Madame Ivonne” by Eduardo Pereyra and Enrique Cadícamo.
On November 7 he is gone forever. He travels once more, to Europe, Barcelona, Paris and later to the United States to make his debut on the world´s most important radio station, NYC´s NBC On December 31 of that same year. In 1934 alongside Alfredo Le Pera, he films “Cuesta abajo”, “Mi Buenos Aires querido” and “Tango en Broadway”, for Paramount NYC. After a brief journey to France by the end of 1934, he performs once more for the NBC and he participates in Paramount´s musical “Cazadores de estrellas” along Bing Crosby, Richard Tauber and Ray Noble among others. Between January and February 1935, he is featured on “El día que me quieras” and “Tango Bar”, singing his greatest hits.
On April, Gardel starts a tour that would have included Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Aruba, Curaçao, Colombia, Panama, Cuba and Mexico, but Destiny wouldn´t want it so. He was involved in a tragic airplane accident in Medellín that would end his life on June 24, 1935.
* Complete Transcript by Pablo Taboada, under the title “Síntesis de su vida y trayectoria”.