Ben Molar and his master piece: "14 con el Tango"
by our Editorial Staff
t its time, a piece of news shook the musical milieu. Ben Molar, in an unprecedented effort, brought fourteen poets and writers to tango. They were chosen among the most important men in the literature of our country.
These were the chosen ones: León Benarós, Jorge Luis Borges, Nicolás Cocaro, Córdova Iturburu, Florencio Escardó, Baldomero Fernández Moreno, Alberto Girri, Leopoldo Marechal, Carlos Mastronardi, Manuel Mujica Láinez, Conrado Nalé Roxlo, Ulises Petit de Murat, Ernesto Sabato and César Tiempo.
After of these important men provided their lyrics -they meant the highest level in Argentine literature- the search began among the most famous and most popular musicians of tango. They were: José Basso, Miguel Caló, Juan D'Arienzo, Alfredo de Angelis, Julio De Caro, Enrique Delfino, Lucio Demare, Osvaldo Manzi, Mariano Mores, Sebastián Piana, Astor Piazzolla, Armando Pontier, Héctor Stamponi and Aníbal Troilo.
The idea was on its way; they periodically met and adapted, polished, modified, until they finished, the fourteen tangos which meant the most important meeting in the world of renowned artists in the literature field approaching popular music.
As complement and final touch of this magnificent undertaking, fourteen plastic artists of the highest level in Argentine painting were also invited: Carlos Alonso, Héctor Basaldúa, Carlos Cañás, Santiago Cogorno, Zdravko Duckelic, Raquel Forner, Vicente Forte, Mario Darío Grandi, Julio Martínez Howard, Onofrio Pacenza, Leopoldo Presas, Luis Seoane, Raúl Soldi and Carlos Torrallardona.
The result of this seminal work comprised fourteen titles:
Alejandra, by Ernesto Sabato and
With these forty-two men, fourteen in each of these fields: music, poetry and painting, Ben Molar released an album that included a long-playing record with fourteen numbers and two pages containing the thoughts about tango of all the artists involved with their respective autographs. The illustrations of the reproductions of the fourteen paintings that pictorially interpret each one of the creations were as well included.
Included on the record are the different nuances of tango: tango song, tango milonga, tango for dancehall, avant garde tango and lunfardo tango, that is to say, many of the variants that our urban music has. It is evident that also the approach of each composition varies according to the different styles of poets and musicians, what enhances the value of this cultural material.
As for the fourteen pictures that pictorially interpret the pieces, they were made by a group of artists that as well represent a much complete example of Argentine painting.
The first time the pictures were exhibited, they were shown on fourteen shopwindows facing the street, of fourteen prestigious shops, on fourteen blocks on Santa Fe Avenue (one of the most elegant avenues of Buenos Aires) and later at seven shopwindows belonging to an important commercial enterprise on Florida Street.
The shopwindows of those locals exhibited the fourteen pictures for a long time, so they were seen and enjoyed by a large number of people, who when walking along those streets did it as if they were visiting a big art gallery, becoming the former ones like gigantic art exhibitions. Subsequently, the pictures were as well exhibited at the little great stage of the intellectual and artistic world: Bergara Leuman's "La botica del ángel".
The importance of the exhibition made that our Chancery, through its Board of Cultural Relations, sponsored exhibitions of them abroad, consequently the fourteen pictures were shown, under the auspices of the Argentine embassies to each one of the countries, in Israel, Greece, Spain, Italy, the United States and Japan. In each case, there were lectures about tango and on them the record was played.
It is worth mentioning, that the exhibition that took place in Madrid, Spain, was made at the seventh Feria Internacional del Campo, and on that occasion the first prize with Medal of Honor was awarded to the Argentine stand. It was estimated that five million people visited the fair. In Japan the demonstration was made at the "Expo '70", in the city of Osaka, where around twenty million people enjoyed it.
Ben Molar's effort to bridge the gap between tango and the Argentine big names of literature, popular music and plastic arts, established a trend and was a catalytic agent. This idea caught on in newspapers and magazines in the nation and abroad and they constantly devoted many pages to notes and commentaries about "Los catorce con el tango". The same happened with radio and television programs. Many "round tables" conferences organized by cultural and artistic associations were the suitable setting for the analysis of the splendid effort made, and at one of them somebody even said that with the record "14 con el tango" was achieved more for our city music than what has been done in the past ten years.
The record was released in several countries of the world, and it received several awards and honors.
"Musical Boom of the Year", by the Institute of Public Opinion. Hechos y Hombres 1966.
"First Prize Argentine City Music Medal", at the VI Argentine Festival of International Record. Mar del Plata.
"Leo Award", 1966-1967.
"Public Recognition Medal", at the Third Festival of Argentine Music of the West, Chacabuco "city of friendship".
"Recognition of the People of San Andrés de Giles Medal", at the Second National Festival of Tango and Folklore, San Andrés de Giles.
"Public Recognition Plate", at the IV Festival of Argentine Popular Music of Baradero.