oberto Firpo, is one
of the most important artists ever to grace this world. He had the honor
to introduce, in 1912, the piano in orchestral recordings in Argentina
solving the technological problems that prevented its inclusion.
enormous discography, nearly 2900 recordings, spanned between 1912
and 1959. He was the first artist to be under an exclusivity contract
with a recording company, Max Glücksmann's.
Glücksmann was also a film distributor, exhibitor, and (at that
time) a film producer. He realized the opportunity to display his
gallery of recording artists in his movie theater chain throughout
Argentina and Uruguay as an excellent way to promote disks.
Roberto Firpo, then managed
to increment his popularity playing music in movie theaters finally
setting down at the Florida theater in the Buenos Aires downtown.
An amusing anecdote took place during a performance in 1918 sharing
the show with the Gardel-Razzano duo. Performing his own pasodoble
"Que salga el toro", at a moment the orchestra shouted the
title, "Que salga el toro" (Bring the bull). Then, Carlos
Gardel mocking as a bull smashed directly in the orchestra...
Beyond this joke, Roberto Firpo
was able to play themes (not just tangos), that were themes for many
films. Many of these films are lost today, and the recordings, for
the most part, are very difficult to find. EMI did frankly bad with
the Roberto Firpo's recording, only making available today quite a
minimal portion of his vast discography.
Unfortunately, it seems that no Argentines with knowledge about the
history of film ever bothered to study Firpo's discography, as well
as those of the contemporary artists, to see what is related to movies.
The same happens when reading the themes recorded by Francisco
Canaro and Carlos Gardel.
Happily, the Gardel recordings exist and are available.
José A. Ferreyra
In Roberto Firpo's case
there were to exceptional events directly related to films. In 1923,
José A. Ferreyra
wanted to synchronize the exhibition of his film "La muchacha
del arrabal" with 78 r.p.m. disk. It was not possible, but Roberto
Firpo played with his orchestra live music, including the main theme
of the film that he himself wrote with Ferreyra and Leopoldo
Also in 1923, when Wallace Reid died, Firpo wrote in his honor an
excellent waltz called "Eternamente" (Eternally). The original
music sheet featured a still of Reid with two Paramount Pictures logos
in the bottom of it. The waltz turned to be extremely popular and
Firpo recorded it several times. Mercifully, EMI did reprinted it
in an LP in 1974 his final version (from 1950) and recently it was
reprinted in a CD that is available.
What follows is a series of recordings done by Roberto
Firpo that are related to films, for the most part musical themes
for silent films. Despite it was quite difficult to compile, I guess
this list is both incomplete and filled with mistakes, I hope someone
could correct it:
EN PENA, tango (Anselmo
Aieta - Francisco García
Tango that was the theme of the 1928 Buenos Aires Film production
of the same name directed by Julio Irigoyen.
ARIZONA, one step (Adolfo R. Avilés)
Probably the musical theme of the 1918 Douglas Fairbanks film of the
same title. The composer later became a film critic.
tango (Rodolfo Sciammarella)
Tango from the 1936 S.I.D.E. production "Ayúdame a Vivir"
directed by José A. Ferreyra and starring Libertad
CARLITOS, tango (Julio
Six years before he was honored to have him in his audience in Paris,
in 1925 De Caro wrote this theme dedicated to Charlie Chaplin.
shimmy (Maurice Ivain)
Probably the musical theme of the 1918 German production directed
by Ernst Lubistch.
waltz (Enrique Delfino)
Written by who was probably the best Argentina's silent film piano
player this waltz was probably the theme for the 1927 Fox Film production
directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Dolores Del Río, Don Alvarado,
Victor McLaglen, and Nancy Nash.
CENICIENTA, fox trot (Carlos A. Sánchez)
This was probably the theme for Paramount's 1925 production "A
Kiss for Cinderella".
CLEOPATRA, tango (José
Piano player José Martínez wrote this theme for the
1917 Fox Film production starring Theda Bara.
ANTE LA LEY, march (Eleuterio Iribarren)
This march was the theme of the film of the same title. Originally
a silent, it became in a matter of months in Argentina's first sound
film. It also featured a tango called "Chinita" (by the
same composer and lyrics by Enrique
Carrera Sotelo) that was recorded by Carlos Gardel.
DEL ABISMO A LA CUMBRE, fox trot (Emilio Iribarne - Mario
This fox trot was the main theme of a Fox Film starring George O'Brien
released in Argentina in 1925.
DR. MABUSE, shimmy (Osmán
Main theme for the 1922 German film directed by Fritz Lang.
EL ALMA DE LA CALLE,
tango (Raúl de los Hoyos - José
Also knwon as "Callecita del suburbio", this was an alternate
theme for "El organito de la tarde", starring María
Turgenova and directed by José A. Ferreyra in 1925.
EL BARQUERO DEL VOLGA, shimmy (arr. W. Webb)
Theme for the 1926 Cecil B. De Mille film of the same name, "The
waltz (Roberto Firpo)
Waltz that was originally conceived in 1923 after the death of actor
Wallace Reid, it turned to be one of Roberto
Firpo's most popular themes.
GRAND SPLENDID, tango (Enrique
When Max Glücksmann opened his
most important movie theater in, the Grand Splendid, Enrique Delfino
wrote this tango. Delfy recorded this tango in a piano solo for Glücksmann.
LA VENDEDORA DE HARRODS, tango (Domingo Salerno)
Theme for the Argentine film production of the same name directed
by Francisco Defilipis Novoa and starring Berta Singerman.
LA MUCHACHA DEL ARRABAL, tango (Roberto
Firpo - José
A. Ferreyra - Leopoldo
Written for the film of the same name by the composer and the filmmakers
themselves. It was also recorded by Carlos Gardel and Ignacio
Corsini (with the Firpo orchestra).
LA MANO QUE APRIETA, tango (Mackintosh)
Main theme for a 1916 serial.
LA MARCA DE FUEGO, tango (Juan
This tango was the main theme for the Cecil B. De Mille production
of the same title (the original name is "The cheat"), that
was presented in Argentina by Paramount Pictures several years after
its original release in the United States.
LOBO DE MAR, tango (Sebastián
Tango that was the main theme of the 1926 film of the same name, "The
Sea Wolf" in English, starring and directed by Ralph Ince.
LOCO LINDO, tango (Carlos
Di Sarli-Ernesto Famá-Conrado
Main theme of the 1936 Argentina Sono Film production of the same
title. Composer Carlos Di
Sarli never recorded it.
LOVE NEST (MARY), fox trot (Hirsch)
This was probably the main theme for the 1918 production "The
Love Nest", a World Film Corporation production directed by Tefft
LYDIA, tango (Francisco
Probably the main theme of the 1918 Denmark production of the same
MAX LINDER, tango (M.C. Firpo)
A 1914 tango in honor of the French comedian.
DE LA TARDE, tango (Cátulo
This originally instrumental theme won the third price of the first
Max Glücksmann tango contest that
was broadcasted on radio (it was the very first event originally conceived
by the then new media), which ended on November 1924. In order to
have all the tango that were awarded recorded by Carlos Gardel, lyrics
were added by demand of Glücksmman. Cátulo
Castillo's father, José
González Castillo, wrote the lyrics in 1925. The popularity
of the Gardel recording lead to a film version directed by José
A Ferreyra in that year. For his film, Ferreyra also included as an
alternate theme "El Alma de la Calle" that he wrote with
composer Raúl de los Hoyos.
tango (Osvaldo Fresedo
- José Antonio
This tango was the first recording Osvaldo
Fresedo did for Max Glücksmann in late 1925 after leaving
the Victor company. Fresedo accompanied with his orchestra the singing
of Carlos Gardel in a very popular recording that lead to a José
A. Ferreyra film adaptation in 1927. For that occasion, Osvaldo Fresedo
recorded this tango for a third time. María Turgenova, the
leading actress, used to sing the tangos of the films in which she
appeared in the few Argentine movie theater that presented domestic
productions. In 1932, the film was reissued with a soundtrack and
Turgenova recorded the Fresedo theme; this version, as well as the
film, do exist.
RANITA, tango (Eduardo
Pereyra - José Rosito)
This was the main theme of a Jackie Coogan film released in Argentina
with the same title. probably "My boy".
REINA DE SABA, shimmy (Emilio Iribarne - Mario Valdez)
Main theme, written by Argentina's Fox Film composers, for the 1921
J. Gordon Edwards production of the same name, "The Queen of
RESACA, tango (Fallace)
This was probably the theme of the 1916 Atilio Lipizzi production
of the same name, based on a play by Alberto
Weisbach adapted for the screen by José
REY PASTOR, shimmy (Emilio Iribarne - Mario Valdez)
Main theme for the 1925 Fox Film production directed by J. Gordon
SALOME, tango (R. Stolz)
Probably the theme for the 1918 Fox Film production directed by J.
Gordon Edwards and starring Theda Bara.
SOTA, CABALLO Y REY, camel trot (Emilio Iribarne - Mario Valdez)
Main theme for the 1923 Fox Film production of the same name, "Cameo
Kirby", directed by John Ford and starring John Gilbert.
THAIS, camel trot (Armando La Valle)
Theme probably written for a 1924 reissue of the 1917 Goldwyn film
of the same title, originally shown in Argentina in 1918.