Tango 250: Francisco Canaro

About Francisco Canaro

Francisco Canaro
Francisco Canaro

Canaro was born in San José de Mayo in Uruguay in 1888 and died in Buenos Aires in 1964. He played the violin, forming his own orchestra in 1914. He recorded for Odeón between 1926 and 1964 and produced a vast catalogue of recordings.

Tango 500 Book
Tango 500: the book.

A generation older than many popular tango musicians, he was an important innovator in the development of early tango music. Had the Golden Age occurred a decade earlier, there is little doubt that he would have a strong claim to be included as one of the ‘Big Four’ orchestras (probably in place of the much younger Pugliese). His importance as a tango musician for dancers largely rests on his recordings during the late 20s and through the 30s; but that period has been sadly neglected by the record companies and we have very few of his best recordings available in good fidelity.

He worked with many singers over a long career, the most important of which were Ernesto Famá (1932-34 & 1939-41) and Roberto Maida (1935-38).

The suggested Tango 250 collection features tandas with Famá and Maida, together with two instrumental tandas, covering the period 1933-40.

Canaro (Instrumental) 1937-38

These instrumentals come from a period when Canaro is moving back from softer rhythms to harder ones. La puñalada is a milonga, of course, but here given a tango makeover – and it really works. It’s a very interesting arrangement, with a very prominent piano part and using trumpets in the orchestra. The tanda ends with an almost whimsical interpretation of Pampa

  • Retintín (24-Mar-1938)
  • La puñalada (12-Jun-1937)
  • La melodía de nuestro adiós (3-Mar-1938)
  • Pampa (24-Mar-1938)

Canaro (Maida) 1938

Canaro’s recordings in the early 30s had been characterised by strong rhythms. In the mid-30s he changed direction: the pace slowed and the style became more reflective or lyrical, but the pendulum swung, again, towards the end of the 1930s. It is a measure of Canaro’s commercial success at this time that he seemed wholly indifferent to the direction being taken by the new orchestras of D’Arienzo and then Troilo. These four songs come from towards the end of the Canaro / Maida partnership.

  • Paciencia (3-Mar-38)
  • El adiós (3-Mar-38)
  • Nada más (22-Aug-38)
  • Madreselva (18-Nov-38)

Canaro (Famá) 1939-40 (Vals)

The Maida years came to an end with the return of Famá to the orchestra, and with him, a return to a more rhythmic treatment of the music. However, times had changed, and ever-sensitive to fashion, Canaro had moved with the times: this is not quite the sound of the early 30s (and the fidelity has improved). These three up-beat valses are typical of the period.

  • Noche de estrellas (28-Mar-39)
  • Tormenta en el alma (28-Oct-40)
  • El vals del estudiante (29-Mar-39)

Canaro (Famá) 1933 (Milonga)

Canaro was one of the first orchestras to record milongas for dancing. Milonga sentimental was the first recording of a milonga by a major orchestra, and Canaro went on to dominate the milonga repertoire for several years.

  • Milonga del novecientos (8-May-1933)
  • Yo me llamo Juan Te Quiero (22-May-1934)
  • Milonga sentimental (9-Feb-1933)

Canaro (Instrumental) 1937-38 (Milonga)

Milonga de mis amores is one of the great milongas. The two remaining songs are full of interesting rhythms and have a gently increasing pace.

  • Milonga de mis amores (26-May-37)
  • Milonga de antaño (19-Aug-37)
  • La milonga de mis tiempos (23-May-1938)

Tango 250: Osvaldo Pugliese

About Osvaldo Pugliese

Osvaldo Pugliese
Osvaldo Pugliese

Pugliese was born in 1905 in Buenos Aires and died there in 1995. He was a pianist and played with the orchestras of Firpo, Maffia, Vardaro and Caló before forming his own tango orchestra in 1939. He recorded for Odeón between 1943 and 1986 and also for Stentor and Philips after 1960.

Tango 500 Book
Tango 500: the book.

He worked with many singers over a long career, the most important of which were Roberto Chanel (1943-47), Alberto Morán (1945-54) and Jorge Maciel (1954-67), but he is perhaps best known, today, for a handful of dramatic instrumentals. He recorded very few valses or milongas.

The suggested Tango 250 collection features tandas with Chanel, Morán and an instrumental tanda from 1944-46.

Pugliese (Chanel) 1943-46

The tanda opens with Pugliese’s debut recording, Farol. The four songs illustrate different aspects of Pugliese’s early style in the years leading up to La yumba – the first of the great instrumental masterpieces.

  • Farol (15-Jul-43)
  • Nada más que un corazón (24-Nov-44)
  • El sueño del pibe (22-Mar-45)
  • Fuimos (28-Mar-46)

Pugliese (Instrumental) 1944-46

The tanda opens with one of the earliest instrumentals, Recuerdo, with its wonderful variacion for solo bandoneon, played by Osvaldo Ruggiero. The steady pulse and quiet intensity both point to La yumba, which ends the tanda.

  • Recuerdo (31-Mar-44)
  • Adiós, Bardi (17-Oct-44)
  • Las marionetas (11-Jun-44)
  • La yumba (21-Aug-46)

Pugliese (Morán) 1945

The character of Morán’s voice is very different from Chanel’s. These four songs, all recorded within nine months in 1945, illustrate a different aspect of Pugliese’s rapidly maturing style.

  • Yuyo verde (25-Jan-45)
  • Maleza (28-May-45)
  • Mentira (24-Sep-45)
  • El abrojito (24-Jun-45)


Tango 250: Aníbal Troilo

About Aníbal Troilo

Aníbal Troilo
Aníbal Troilo

Troilo was born in 1914 in Buenos Aires and died there in 1975. He formed his tango orchestra in 1937 which recorded for Odeón in 1938 (just two songs), for Victor between 1941 and 1949, for T.K. between 1950 and 1956 and for Victor again between 1957 and 1971.

Tango 500 Book
Tango 500: the book.

Troilo was the youngest of the ‘Big Four’ orchestra leaders and he led his orchestra from the bandoneon. He is generally considered to have been one of the finest (and certainly the most expressive) players of all time.

He worked with several leading singers, the most important being Francisco Fiorentino (1941-44), Alberto Marino (1943-46) and Floreal Ruíz (1944-48).

The suggested Tango 250 collection features tandas with Fiorentino, Marino and Ruíz, along with instrumental tandas from the period 1938-44.

Troilo (Instrumental) 1938-41

The first two songs in this tanda were the orchestra’s only recordings prior to 1941. By then, the orchestra was very well-established, and it started to produce a steady stream of wonderful recordings for Victor throughout the 40s. Inevitably, the fast-paced, rhythm-based, performances of 1941-42 are the best known, and they deserve their popularity.

  • Tinta verde (7-Mar-38)
  • Comme il faut (7-Mar-38)
  • Cachirulo (4-Mar-41)
  • Milongueando en el cuarenta (17-Jun-41)

Troilo (Fiorentino) 1941

This tanda features Troilo’s most notable singer, Francisco Fiorentino, in four popular and upbeat songs from the early 40s.

  • Yo soy el tango (4-Mar-41)
  • Te aconsejo que me olvides (16-Apr-41)
  • Toda mi vida (4-Mar-41)
  • Tinta roja (23-Oct-41)

Troilo (Instrumental) 1941-42

These instrumentals are the perfect complement to the Fiorentino tanda; but for all that the music is full of energy, it is subtle and refined too – as well as being enduringly popular with dancers.

  • C. T. V. (8-Jan-42)
  • Cordón de oro (18-Jul-41)
  • El tamango (23-Oct-41)
  • Guapeando (11-Jul-41)

Troilo (Fiorentino) 1941-42

This tanda belongs to the transitional period in which the pace is slowing (and the included songs are in date order, coincidentally, and the trend is very clear). The mood of the songs is darker. En esta tarde gris is often programmed along with other upbeat ’41 recordings, but it has a much darker lyric than the initial impression formed by the music alone. Once you are familiar with the lyric, if only in translation, you’ll hear the song differently.

  • En esta tarde gris (18-Jul-41)
  • Cautivo (9-Oct-41)
  • Mi castigo (16-Apr-42)
  • Por las calles de la vida (10-Dec-42)

Troilo (Marino) 1944

Briefly, after the departure of Fiorentino (last recording 30-Mar-44) and the arrival of his replacement, Ruíz (first recording 6-Oct-44), Marino was Troilo’s only singer. These dramatic songs were recorded around what was perhaps the peak of Troilo’s musical development. The arrangements are sophisticated: dramatic, yet subtle. His string section has expanded to include a cello (very audible near the beginning of Nada más que un corazón) and later, he was to add a viola too. The sound is big – testing the recording technology to its limits.

  • Nada más que un corazón (31-Aug-44)
  • Torrente (6-Oct-44)
  • Me están sobrando las penas (1-Aug-44)
  • Rosa de tango (1-Aug-44)

Troilo (Ruíz) 1945-47 (Vals)

Troilo is mostly associated with tango (and then, mainly for just a handful of ‘greatest hits of 1941’), but he recorded some very fine valses and milongas too. By 1947 the orchestra had a full string section: 1st & 2nd violins, viola, cello and double bass – Troilo’s string section was bigger than Di Sarli’s. These valses are a great showcase for the voice of Ruíz, sadly (and unjustly), little heard in milongas.

  • Romance de barrio (19-Aug-47)
  • Llorarás, llorarás (10-Aug-45)
  • Flor de lino (29-Apr-47)

Troilo (Fiorentino) 1941 (Milonga)

These milongas come from the most ‘popular’ phase of the Troilo/Fiorentino partnership, but the real ‘star’ is the pianist, Orlando Goñi (particularly in Mano brava.)

  • Mano brava (4-Mar-41)
  • Con toda la voz que tengo (16-Apr-41)
  • Del tiempo guapo (21-Nov-41)

Troilo (Duets) 1944-45 (Milonga)

These songs are all vocal duets: the first two between Marino and Ruíz, and the last, Marino and Fiorentino (and it was Fiorentino’s last recording session with the orchestra). The arrangements are rhythmically quite straightforward but musically sophisticated. There was much great music to come from Troilo in the second half of the 40s (and later) too, but perhaps a smaller proportion makes an obvious appeal to dancers than before.

  • Cimarrón de ausencia (5-Jun-45)
  • Milonga en rojo (19-Dec-44)
  • El desafío (30-Mar-44)

This is the final article in the Tango 250 series.

Tango 250: Juan D’Arienzo

About Juan D’Arienzo

Juan D'Arienzo
Juan D’Arienzo

D’Arienzo was born in 1900 in Buenos Aires and died there in 1976. He was a violinist and he played and briefly recorded with a tango sextet in the 1920s, but those recordings are of no interest to dancers. He formed his tango orchestra in 1934 and it recorded for Victor between 1935 and 1975.

Tango 500 Book
Tango 500: the book.

He was the oldest of the ‘Big Four’ orchestra leaders. He worked with many singers over a long career, but arguably only Alberto Echagüe (1938-39 & 1944-57) and Héctor Mauré (1940-44) were really notable. However, he also recorded many instrumentals, particularly in the early years, and the best of them represent his main contribution to the repertoire widely played today.

His orchestra’s sound is strongly rhythmic and is dominated by the bandoneons, but the pianist’s role is important too. Apart from his first ten recordings, he worked with three pianists: Rodolfo Biagi (1935-38), Juan Polito (1938-39 & 1957-75) and Fulvio Salamanca (1940-57).

The suggested Tango 250 collection features tandas with Echagüe and Mauré, and instrumental tandas from 1935 to 1951. Polito returned to the pianist’s chair after the departure of Salamanca in 1957, and he remained until 1975, but the many recordings of that late period are not generally favoured by dancers.

D’Arienzo (Instrumental) 1935-36

Nueve de julio was the first song recorded by D’Arienzo with Biagi at the piano. This tanda is a showcase for the orchestra’s instrumental style of the period and for Biagi’s incomparable piano playing.

  • Nueve de julio (31-Dec-35)
  • Retintín (31-Jan-36)
  • Lorenzo (8-May-36)
  • El flete (3-Apr-36)

D’Arienzo (Instrumental) 1937

These four instrumentals are just perfect. What else is there to say?

  • El cachafaz (2-Jun-37)
  • Gallo ciego (9-Dec-37)
  • El porteñito (31-Aug-37)
  • El choclo (26-Jul-37)

D’Arienzo (Instrumental) 1937-38

These early instrumentals were recorded towards the end of Biagi’s time at the piano, and they are great for dancing.

  • Unión cívica (7-Jan-38)
  • La catrera (8-Jun-38)
  • El cencerro (9-Dec-37)
  • El caburé (22-Sep-37)

D’Arienzo (Echagüe) 1938

These songs were recorded by Echagüe during his first (and arguably, best) period with the orchestra. Biagi plays the piano for the earlier two songs, and Polito for the later two.

  • La bruja (26-Aug-38)
  • Pénsalo bien (22-Jun-38)
  • Nada más (8-Jul-38)
  • Indiferencia (4-Jan-38)

D’Arienzo (Mauré) 1941-42

These songs come from a slightly later period. On Polito’s departure in 1939 there had been a complete change in orchestra personnel. The voice and more lyrical singing style of Héctor Mauré were very different from that of Alberto Echagüe, and the pace has slowed a little. When Mauré left the orchestra in 1944, D’Arienzo reverted to his earlier style but was perhaps even harder-driven than before.

  • Humillación (14-Jul-41)
  • Dime mi amor (21-May-41)
  • Compadrón (22-Sep-42)
  • Nunca más (14-Jul-41)

D’Arienzo (Instrumental) 1950-51

These instrumentals belong to a much later period, but having gone off the boil for much of the 40s, the orchestra is back on form by the early 50s. The music-making is more hard-driven than before and while the recording technology is being pushed as far as it will go (tape mastering didn’t come in until 1954), this is still classic D’Arienzo.

  • Canaro en París (5-May-50)
  • Tucumán (28-Sep-50)
  • El simpático (19-Dec-51)
  • Don Juan (28-Dec-50)

D’Arienzo (Echagüe) 1939 (Vals)

These valses take us back to the very end of the 30s and the last sides recorded by Echagüe with Polito at the piano. At the end of the year, D’Arienzo was to lose every player in the orchestra, along with Echagüe, as Polito split to form his own orchestra (which disappeared into obscurity almost straight away, having failed to secure a recording contract). The new lineup was still commercially successful – but things were never to be the same again.

  • Ay Aurora! (14-Nov-39)
  • Recuerdos de la pampa (4-May-39)
  • Castigo (9-Aug-39)

D’Arienzo (Instrumental) 1937-38 (Milonga)

Biagi is at the piano, again, and the rhythms are irresistible. D’Arienzo recorded La puñalada again in 1951 at a much faster pace and the comparison is interesting. El esquinazo is a tour de force, full of syncopations and great for dancing.

  • La puñalada (27-Apr-1937)
  • Milonga, vieja milonga (22-Sep-1937)
  • El esquinazo (4-Jan-1938)

D’Arienzo (Instrumental) 1951-56 (Milonga)

These instrumentals are from a much later period (although Salamanca remained at the piano until 1957). They are fast-paced and the sound quality is noticeably better than previously.

  • El torito (29-Apr-54)
  • La puñalada (12-Sep-51)
  • Pampeana (20-Sep-56)

Further reading

Click here for a further extended article about Juan D’Arienzo – El Rey del compás, with lots of additional listening links.