EXPERIENCE,  History of Tango,  NEWS

La guardia vieja (The old guard) Part V

By Isidro Aguirre

The most representative works from this era.

The most representative musical pieces from this era was the tango “El entrerriano” (1897)[1], that featured the novelty of having three parts, characteristic of the Guardia Vieja tango. Created by Anselmo Rosendo Mendizábal (pianist), considered as the first published tango that had been released in a dance house known as “María la Vasca”, where students, jockeys and wealthy people generally danced.

“Don Juan” (1898) de Enrique Ponzio (violinist) followed. It is considered to be the first Argentinian tango recorded along an orchestra. The lyrics were the work of  Ricardo Podestá subtitled as “El taita del barrio” although there is a posterior lyric from Alfredo Eusebio Gobbi, “Mozos guapos”.

Regarding the birth of this tango, there are two versions: one saying that the tango was released “Mamita”, and was inspired after hearing a few piano compasses from “Negro Sergio”; and the other, that it was releases in the “Café de Hansen”, dedicated to “taita” Juan Cabello (afterwards mentioned in the lyrics by Podestá). This tango represented an enormous influence in that era and it is one that reached a worldwide range.

Then we have Ángel Villoldo´s tangos: “El choclo” (1903), “La Morocha” (1905) with music by Enrique Saborido (1877-1941) and “El porteñito” (1906). “El choclo”, after “La cumparsita” (1916/17) the most widespread tango. 

In regards to the name, “El choclo”, certain discussions were born because of the sense and the meaning designated to it. Some historians say that, el choclo, was an evil character and “fioca” (lazy), that lived near the streets Junín and Lavalle, and who received that nickname because of the colour of his hair. On the other hand, this name is attributed because it represents the ingredient (corn) of the popular dish “El Pinchazo”, from where the people used to serve the puchero, always looking for the most tender and appealing part, the corn.

In the 1930´s this tango´s lyrics were adapted (one more time) by Marambio Catán, sang by Ángel Vargas and it goes: “And they called me El Choclo, fellow friends, I carved between the fights, safe and punching” and in 1947, finally, Enrique Santos Discépolo added its definite verses: “With this mocking tango, the ambition from my suburb got two wings”.It was featured by Libertad Lamarque in the Mexican movie “Gran Casino”, directed by Luis Buñuel, but Tita Merello´s version was the most popular one.

In 1906 on board of the Fragata Sarmiento[2], that carried over 1000 tango partitures, “La morocha”, gets this musical genre to Europe.

[1] The first known tangos are “Dame la lata” (1886) anonymus autor, and “El Talar” (1895) by Prudencio Aragón.

[2] This frigate travelled around the world, providing journeys to the new officials of the Argentine Marine.

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