Gaspar Astarita

ven though he achieved a wider diffusion by means of lyrics for popular songs —especially tangos—, he is a poet that is beyond that small range that limits him to song writing, his oeuvre falls within the general field of poetry, establishing an appropriate balance in that never revealed opposition that exists between scholarly poetry and popular poetry. Furthermore, his lines, deprived of the music bars for which they were created, bear implied their own musicality. They can be easily transferred to the recitative genre and no disturbance shall be noticed. In most of his sung lines, written before or after the music notes, takes place that axiom stated by Ramón del Valle Inclán: «the musical miracle of poetry».

It is worthwhile to say that Majul comfortably handled the popular composition to achieve that balance, combining satisfactorily the two main elements that change a tango lyric into an authentic poetical expression: craftsmanship and artistry. Because we have to say, once and for all, that good tango lyrics are a harmonic and mysterious blend of these two things. Their construction must pass, firstly, through certain secrets that the design, the measures, the stresses (craftsmanship) have. But finally, the theme and its treatment, the suggestion, the feeling, the development and the adequate use of the resources of grammar to fit the music –so that the whole reaches the genuine cultural level that all literary genre demands—, will have to be filtered unavoidably by poetry (artistry).

It is not, then, a minor art or popular poetry the one sheltered by tango. Because the latter, according to Julio María Aguirre: «represents the cultural environment that hosts, providentially, poetry. An environment where it is secluded to surrender itself to those who least have and need it most». (El libro de los 30 años. Academia Porteña del Lunfardo. Editorial Fraterna, Buenos Aires, 1993).

It is also necessary to highlight that the name of Eugenio Majul has been scarcely mentioned and is very seldom remembered by the previous and the present legion of men connected with the communications media. Very little is known about his life and his oeuvre and his pieces that deserved being recorded are rarely aired. With him happens the same thing as with many authors. The lack of knowledge and the total absence of a pondering judgment to detect the positive literary values of tango make that everything that is spread through artists, journalism, radio programs, etc. is circumscribed to the ten or fifteen most known authors.

This portrayal intends to find a better and well deserved place for Eugenio Majul in the history of the literature of tango.

He is a porteño by birth, by where he was brought up and by his sensitivity. He was born in the neighborhood of Palermo (Malabia and Niceto Vega). His father, Julio, born in Syria, arrived at the country when he was nine and at age twenty-four he married Ana Adela. This couple gave birth to two siblings: María Julia and Eugenio. The latter attended grammar school in two schools of the neighborhood, the one on Córdoba and Julián Álvarez and the one on Loyola and Serrano.

He attended high school at the Instituto Bartolomé Mitre and, finally, at the Instituto Nacional del Profesorado Secundario (National Institute for High School Teachers) studied for only two years Literature and Spanish (there his teachers were Rafael Alberto Arrieta and Roberto Giusti). And later came work, always as sales agent, the streets and poetry.

Like any other boy in the neighborhood he started writing lines for the carnival costumed groups. He even joined these groups. He as well contributed some stanzas for modest advertisements in the shops of the neighborhood. For the grocery shop Don Roque, on Malabia and Lerma, and also for the baker’s Panadería Macrina («Se vende también harina / de primera calidad.») (also first quality flour is sold at any hour). Thereafter he began to write regularly, feeling free to express his vocation which, since then, has never abandoned him.

He was in love with poetry and to it he has devoted his best efforts. From those juvenile years, when he was gaining confidence and learning, there is a great number of pages he never wanted to publish, save for a few exceptions. Until 1944, when he was tempted by popular song and he got in touch with some musicians who requested his verses.

Of his huge output as author we shall mention some titles committed to record and, consequently were widely spread, although, according to Majul, there are many other pieces he considered of an excellent level but were not as lucky as these. The summary may be the following: "Alguien" with music by Héctor Stamponi; "Única" and "Tengo" with the bandoneonist Roberto Pérez Precchi; "No matarás" with the pianist Juan José Paz; "Mientras viva" with Lucio Demare; "La última lágrima" with Armando Pontier; "Con las manos vacías" with music by Roberto Vallejos; "Hermana" and "Feliz cumpleaños mamá" by Roberto Abrodos; "Nunca, nunca te olvidé" with Astor Piazzolla; "Antes del adiós" with Roberto Nievas Blanco; "Todavía no" with Edmundo Rivero; "El perfume del pan" with Sebastián Piana; "Pero, por qué" with Aquiles Roggero.

And hurrying up to these latter years, let us say that with Antonio Nevoso he has written "Mi domicilio" and "Anoche bastante tarde", and with César Isella, the milonga "A bordo de mis zapatos".

When he wrote the waltz "Hermana", dedicated to his sister María Julia, Roberto Abrodos, one of the members of the famous folk group Los Hermanos Abrodos, wrote the music. This group also recorded the number. Majul thought then that his waltz, with a city mood, ought to be changed into a composition of country style. So the original lines, with very few words, were modified into a country geography suitable to the identity of the folk group. But it was not a request of the composer. It was a concession the author of the verses himself made. Time later he was sorry for that because other artists, like Oscar del Cerro, Enrique Espinosa and Alfredo De Angelis, recorded the waltz with those lines changed.

Majul was always sorry for that. Until he persuaded the singer Juan Carlos Godoy into recording it in a non commercial release. The latter agreed and with the great pianist Carlos García, who accompanied him, for free, these two artists gave the poet a stupendous rendering of the original lines. That recording, of which there are very few available copies, redeemed him before his sister.

Closely linked to poetry during all his life, he has published in the 90s a handful of poems in a little book titled Instantes. For the first time Eugenio Majul sees something of his output gathered in a book, in a very modest volume released by Talleres Gráficos Lito in 1996 and which the author has dedicated to his parents. He is very proud of having published this book of poems with his humble resources, the only way to leave as testimony his lines not devoted to popular song. His intact sensitivity, his romanticism and a certain halo of sadness mixed with a soft nostalgia are perceived in the contents of Instantes.

He always lived very simply, and carried out an office in SADAIC, with dignity and decorum which were characteristic features of his personality during all his lifetime.

Published in the Tango y lunfardo magazine, number 89, Chivilcoy, December 16, 1993.