In 1943 Juan D’Arienzo recorded a new disc, which was sold in 17,000,000 copies. Even by today’s standards this number is insane… and, in the domain of tango music, the record has never been beaten. The disk contained immortal “La Cumparsita” on side A, and milonga milonga “La puñalada” on side B. Interestingly enough, both of them came not from Buenos Aires, but from Montevideo.
Only nine years ago, Francisco Canaro, in the middle of a live performance unleashed on unsuspecting dancing public “Milonga Sentimental”, thus giving birth to a new dance. Before that, milongas were only sung, but never danced. Even the first recording of “Milonga Sentimental”, which Canaro made with Ada Falcón in the end of 1932, was in a pure cancion fashion. But now, in 1933 milonga is a new dance, and it is quite a trending dance, indeed.
In 1917, a group of students approached Roberto Firpo, on his tour to Montevideo, and showed him a march, composed by their friend, 17-years old Gerardo Matos Rodriguez. Firpo liked it, and so he extended Rodriguez theme with a counter melody from his own tango, added a quote from Giuseppe Verdi’s “Il Trovatore”, premiered the new tango before the ink dried out on the paper, and, thus La Cumparsita was born. Then Firpo sent the score to a publisher, under the single name of Rodriguez, and recorded it in the same year. Since then, pretty much every tango orchestra had La Cumparsita in their repertoire. Juan D’Arienzo alone recorded “La Cumparsita” five times with his orchestra, and two more times with his earlier sexteto. The 1943 D’Arienzo recording sold 17 million copies.
To Paul Bottomer, the creator and the driving force
behind “Today’s Tango Is…”, with appreciation.
Juan D’Arienzo and Rodofo Biagi met in the end of 1935, overnight turned upside down the whole tango world… and broke up only two and half years later, in the middle of 1938. The common legend about the break up tells us that one evening, when the orquesta was performing vals “Lágrimas and Sonrisas”, Biagi was on fire, and the crowd would not stop applauding, until Biagi rose from his sit, and produced a slightest bow. Maddened D’Arienzo jumped to Biagi, and whispered to his ear, “I am the only star in my orquesta! And you are fired!” While this incident indeed might have taken place, if we look at the history of their recordings, the story might look just a bit different…
The very first recording session occurred on the last day of 1935. At this day they recorded vals “Orillas del Plata” and tango “Nuevo de Julio” (9th of July). Now, 9th of July is the Independence Day, commemorating the signing of the Independence Act by the Congress de Tucuman in 1816. However, the events leading to this act started with the the May’s Revolution of 1810, followed by six years of the Independence War. Was D’Arienzo indeed making a statement of an upcoming tango revolution by choosing “Nuevo de Julio” for his first recording with Biagi? Was it “just” a foresight? Or was it a pure coincidence?
The best-known romance in the whole tango history, between the green-eyed beauty Ada Falcon and handsome Francisco Canaro began as long back as in 1929, and lasted for almost ten years. If you are interested in the details, there is a documentary “Yo no sé qué me han hecho tus ojos”, shot in 2003, and a whole chapter in M. Lavokah “Tango Stories” book, dedicated to this story. But we will fast-forward to September 28, 1938, the date of Ada’s last recording session with Canaro, after which their romance officially ended. The two tango she had chosen for the session were “Nada más” (Nothing more) and “No mientas” (Don’t lie). The last time Ada addressed the man she loved for a decade with those heart-breaking words:
I desire nothing, nothing more
Than you not leaving me face to face with my life.
And die I will if you leave me
Because without you I won’t know how to live.
So, who were the authors of this amazing tango? I bet you would never guess…