Tango and the army
t the beginning of the twentieth century a great number of musicians were inspired by the army and paid homage to past events that marked our history, to their protagonists or, simply, to the anecdotes of military life or to their friendships.
Of the many piano sheets researched, we chose the older ones, those prior to the 20s. Without following a chronological order we firstly cite the numbers dedicated to the three battles of General San Martín in Chile, on his journey towards liberty.
"Chacabuco", a tango by Carlos Hernani Macchi, dedicated to "The distinguished Dr. Gowland" and committed to disc by the Cuarteto del Centenario. The composer, violinist and flutist, was member of the quartet of La Armonía along with "Negro" Thompson (guitar), Manuel Firpo (bandoneon) and José Bonano (violin). He also joined the outfits led by Juan Maglio and Domingo Santa Cruz. He was a close friend of Eduardo Arolas' and, of his oeuvre we can mention: "Sarita", "El reservado" and "Herminia". He died on July 13, 1929. This title makes reference to the battle that took place on February 12, 1817 on the Andean mountainside of that name where San Martín defeated the Spaniards led by General Maroto. The strategists have regarded it as a model of military art in its time.
"Cancha Rayada", a tango by Alejandro Carlos Rolla. "Dedicated to Messrs. Luis A. Terragno and Ricardo B. Bergallo". The composer who passed away on April 6, 1925 was violinist in the ‘10s. He wrote a method of elementary studies for bandoneon, was teacher of numerous violinists and composed a great number of works, of which we highlight: "Bicarbonato", "Bocanegra", "De mi cosecha", "El barquinazo", "En punta" and "Plata vieja". Sometimes he used the nom de plume Paul Frederik. This tango evokes the defeat before the royalists headed by General Ordóñez, near the city of Talca.
"Maipo", tango by Eduardo Arolas, recorded by many players, dates back to 1918, at the time of the centennial of the battle. A music critic said: «Its notes make our skin shiver. A touching melody. Pain with pride». It was a quite bloody combat, it lasted 6 hours and, after that victory the liberty of Chile was definitively established.
"El Dos de Línea", tango by Pedro Sofía (1890-1976). "To my comrades, the soldiers of the '90 of the infantry Regiment 2". It was recorded by the Cuarteto del Centenario. This composer, devoted to chamber music, also wrote tangos: "Bordoneando", "Echale arroz a ese guiso", "El archivista", "El cabo Fels". He ran a conservatory, founded the Esnaola library and, for 30 years, was director of the Asociación Argentina de Música de Cámara (Argentine Association of Chamber Music).
"El lampazo", tango by Hermes Peresini. "Dedicated to the lieutenant Juan Fernández Otaño". This composer also wrote "Chela" and "Violetita".
"El recluta", tango by Arturo De Bassi. "To my friends Menéndez and Arturo Astudillo".
"El clarín", tango by Carlos Nasca, "El Gaucho Relámpago". "Dedicated to Lieutenant Colonel Fermín Barrera Pizarro". He as well composed "¡Atención!". "Dedicated to Mr. D. Martín".
"Conscriptos", tango by the pianist Pancho Nicolín. "Dedicated to Messrs. Jorge Durán, Miguel Suárez, Virgilio Poggi and Raúl Quiroga". There are no other outstanding data, save for another title, the tango "Tocalo más fuerte" (Play it louder).
"Derecho al Cuatro", tango by Juan A. Buratore. "Dedicated to my friends Antonio Bozzolla and Rodolfo Parodi (Jr.)". We don't know the author.
"Diana", tango by R. Mazzeo. "Dedicated to my friend Pedro Estillo". We don't have information about the author either. Probably he was Alfredo Rosario Mazzeo, who was violinist in Juan D'Arienzo's orchestra and composer of "Lamento", "Los 33 orientales" (same title like Eduardo Pereyra's song which later would become "La uruguayita Lucía"), and "La muchacha del tango", with lyric by Luis Rubistein, among others. He died on August 3, 1954.
"R. 4 (Regimiento 4)", tango by Eusebio Severo Giorno, of 1913. "Dedicated to chiefs and officers of the R.4 of infantry". The author is among the members of SADAIC in the 40s.
"El artillero", by Eduardo and Juan José Villegas. "Dedicated to the soldiers of 1895 in the Mounted R. P.". It was committed to disc by the Cuarteto del Centenario. Only Juan José's record is at SADAIC in 1941.
"Centinela alerta", tango by Arnaldo Barsanti (1889-1971). He was orchestra leader, composer and playwright. He led the Quinteto Polito during the recording of the tango "Chupadedo". He admired classical music. Several of his compositions have opera titles: "Otello", "Rigoleto", "La traviata", "Trovatore" and of national plays. Such is the case of "Las de Barranco". He also wrote "Anastasio, el Pollo". He was consul to Germany before World War II.
"Epopeyas (1810-1910)", tango by V. V. Guridi. With no more information.
"6ta.del R2", this is the early title of the classic tango "Inspiración" composed by Peregrino Paulos. "Dedicated to the sixth company of the infantry regiment 2". The title was suggested by his brother, the pianist Niels Jorge Paulos (later Nelson Jorge), as homage to his fellow soldiers in the military service. The tango was known in 1918 played by the Augusto Berto's orchestra. When Roberto Firpo recorded it in 1922 it already had its definitive title. We don't know of an original sheetmusic or score. It had numerous renderings and Luis Rubistein was who wrote a lyric which has nothing to do with the initial intention. The first singer that recorded it was Agustín Magaldi. Paulos died on November 21, 1921.
"Granaderos argentinos", lancer, by Miguel Sciutti. We have no other information.
"En la línea de fuego", by Alberto Rodríguez. "To my dear friend Hernando Sañudo". The composer was born in Tacuarembó, Uruguay. He was bandoneon player and is regarded as the teacher of Minotto Di Cicco. He lived many years in Avellaneda. He joined the early aggregations of Osvaldo Fresedo who recorded eleven of his pieces between 1925 and 1933. Among them: "Acuarelas", "Flores", "Del pasado", "Percantina" and "Tus ojos".
"Sargento Cabral", tango by Manuel Campoamor. "Dedicated to the distinguished Mr. Leopoldo Corretjer". It was recorded by the Cuarteto del Centenario. It is a homage to the sergeant born in the province of Corrientes, Juan Bautista Cabral, that on February 3, 1813, in the combat of San Lorenzo, risking his life, saved General San Martín who was under his dead horse.
"Curupaytí", tango by Augusto Berto. "Dedicated to my friends Luis Teisseire, José Fuster and Espinosa Nava". It was a locality of the Republic of Paraguay placed where the Paraguay and Paraná rivers meet. There, on September 22, 1866 the forces of the Triple Alianza headed by General Mitre, with 20.000 men, attacked the Paraguayans commanded by General José Eduardo Díaz who repelled the attack. There were 5.000 casualties.
"Reconquista", tango by Alfredo Bevilacqua. ""Dedicated to the notary public Esteban Benza". It was recorded by the Cuarteto del Centenario. Buenos Aires was invaded by the English on June 27, 1806. The commander of the troops was Brigadier William Carr Beresford. After two weeks, when the city was about to be conquered, the native resistance, led by Santiago de Liniers, a Frenchman in the service of the Spanish crown, succeeded in recovering it. The English surrendered on August 12.
"Tacuarí", by Juan
Maglio "Pacho", was recorded by the author and, also,
by the Cuarteto del Centenario. It evokes the heroic battle of March
19, 1811 in Paraguay, where General Manuel Belgrano with a handful
of men and his great shrewdness, managed to make back out 2.000 enemy
soldiers, to later deal a dignified retreat with the Spanish commander,
with interchange of prisoners.