The mystery of El adiós

El_adiosOn a warm summer night at the very beginning of 1938, a young lady was absentmindedly playing random chords with unmistakably Gipsy flavor on her piano, accompanying the movements of a light curtain on a window, wide open to the garden. Her mother, who was knitting in the same room, suddenly exclaimed: “But this is so beautiful! You must make this into a tango!”

Maruja Pacheco Huergo, and that was the name of the young lady was by no means a stranger to the tango world. She was a classically trained pianist with over 500 recordings of different rhythms, a lyricist, a composer and a script writer. Later in the same year she will be also awarder a prestigious title Miss Radio. But this night, as her mother suggested, she was working on an elusive melody, which, by the first rays of the morning sun has been shaped into her most famous tango – “El Adiós”.

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Carnaval de mi barrio

donato4“Edgardo Donato y sus muchachos” – and this was the proper name of Donato’s orquesta tipica – was, indeed, a very atypical one. Not so highly regarded in Buenos Aires it simply did not fit into any rule or schema. No female singers in tango orquestas? Lita Morales all the way. D’Arienzo revolution of 1936? Donato anticipated it in 1933 with “El acomodo”, “Tierrita”, “Qué hacés, qué hacés!” etc. Singers duos in the mid-forties? Donato had a trio in 1939, and a backing vocal since 1933. Bandoneon is a soul of tango? Indeed, but how about a solo piano accordion in a tango orquesta? “El tango es un pensamiento triste que se baila”? Enrique Discepolo definitely did not mean Donato – for the whole life of his orquesta he recorded two… maybe tree sad tangos in total… and the lyrics of his most recognized tango “A media luz” is nothing more than an illustrated guide to the city’s bawdy places. The peak of the Golden Age? In 1942 Donato orquesta vanished from the recording studio for well over a year… when he came back it was a very different Donato…

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