Tango in 1940

The 1940s saw several musicians of an older generation fade from the scene and a younger generation come to the fore. More than a few, perhaps most notably Di Sarli and Fresedo, made the transition. Only illness stopped Di Sarli (who recorded until 1958) but Fresedo recorded right up to 1980. The biggest casualty, Canaro, remained popular and was active in the recording studio until 1964, but arguably most of his best work was already behind him.

Biagi (Ortiz) 1940

Jorge Ortiz
Jorge Ortiz

Biagi’s orchestra had become well-established by 1940. For many dancers, he is at his very best in the recordings with tenor, Jorge Ortiz. Todo te nombra was their first recording. Ortiz stayed until January 1943, but returned in 1945 (after a spell with Miguel Caló) for a further year.

  • Misa de once (15-Oct-1940)
  • Todo te nombra (19-Jun-1940)
  • Guapo y varón (16-Jul-1940)
  • Callecita de mi barrio (4-Oct-1940)

D’Arienzo (Instrumental) 1940-41

Juan D'Arienzo
Juan D’Arienzo

Arguably, D’Arienzo came close to losing his way, artistically, in the 1940s. His former pianist, Juan Polito, had split from him in early 1940 to form his own orchestra, taking with him all of D’Arienzo’s players along with his singer, Alberto Echagüe. It didn’t take D’Arienzo long to regroup, taking over an orchestra recently formed by Héctor Varela, with pianist, Fulvio Salamanca. The debut recording was Entre dos fuegos.

Despite the setback, the orchestra was still commercially successful, but the orchestra seemed to lack its former focus, the sound becoming increasingly hard-driven (mostly by an over-prominent piano). Things changed, for the better, in the early 50s, but these days comparatively little 40s D’Arienzo is played regularly.

  • Entre dos fuegos (12-Apr-1940)
  • Tucumán (27-Jun-1940)
  • La clavada (9-Oct-1940)
  • La bicoca (8-Aug-1940)

The only version of Entre dos fuegos available on Spotify has rather poor sound quality. Here’s an excerpt from a recent transfer by TangoTunes (which I have processed for click & crackle reduction and rendered as a high bitrate MP3 file).

Di Sarli (Instrumental) 1939-40

Carlos Di Sarli
Carlos Di Sarli

Di Sarli’s new orchestra made its first recordings in December 1939. The musical trend at the time was for relatively fast-paced, rhythmical interpretations – probably in response to D’Arienzo’s success. However, Di Sarli, whose orchestra is generally acknowledged to be one of the finest, had no need to copy anyone else’s style: he had plenty of his own.

The initial impression with Di Sarli’s music is that the sound is dominated by the violins, but Di Sarli’s own piano-playing was fundamental to the orchestra’s sound (and would remain so). By the mid-50s, the orchestra had grown in size (particularly the violin section), but the earliest recordings were by a small ensemble of just eight players and the microphone placement was quite close, giving us a very intimate sound in which every instrument can be heard perfectly clearly.

  • El jaguar (5-Aug-1940)
  • Racing Club (4-Jul-1940)
  • El retirao (11-Nov-1939)
  • Shusheta (El aristócrata) (8-Oct-1940)

Di Sarli (Rufino) 1939-40

Roberto Rufino
Roberto Rufino

Di Sarli worked with many of the best singers of his time, and many consider Roberto Rufino the finest of them. He was just seventeen when he recorded Corazón on the A-side of the orchestra’s very first disc.

  • Corazón (11-Dec-1939)
  • Lo pasao pasó (23-Nov-1940)
  • Cosas olvidadas (19-Jun-1940)
  • En un beso la vida (23-Sep-1940)

Di Sarli (Rufino) 1940-41 (Vals)

The 1940 recording of Rosamel was not Di Sarli’s first: he had recorded it with his sextet in 1930 with estribilista, Santiago Devin. The pace and style of the later version are very different, but it is a joy from start to finish, the epitome of good taste and elegance.

  • Rosamel (11-Dec-1940)
  • Alma mía (15-Feb-1940)
  • Cortando camino (6-Mar-1941)

Here’s an excerpt from the 1930 version of Rosamel.

Rodríguez (Moreno) 1940

Enrique Rodríguez
Enrique Rodríguez

Enrique Rodríguez’ orchestra had been formed in 1936, and began recording in 1937. From 1940-46 he recorded with singer, Armando Moreno, and their output included a significant proportion of otros ritmos (other rhythms, particularly Fox-Trots, which are regularly played, today, as an occasional alternative to milonga). The undemanding and mostly simple rhythms and generally cheerful style of the tangos and valses are very popular with dancers.

  • Cómo se pianta la vida (20-Aug-1940)
  • No te quiero más (15-Mar-1940)
  • A media luz (20-Nov-1940)
  • En la buena y en la mala (4-Jun-1940)


Click here for ‘Milonga in the 30s’.

Click here for ‘Tango in 1941’.