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Musicians
Angel D'Agostino
Pianist and leader
(May 25, 1900 - January 16, 1991)

More D'Agostino:
His orchestra neither achieved the musical recognition that the orchestras of Aníbal Troilo, Carlos Di Sarli or Osvaldo Fresedo had, nor produced the popular phenomenon of the Juan D'Arienzo orchestra, but since 1940 up to the present, tango generations never stopped their respect and admiration towards him.

That orchestra had magic and that magic was perceived without need of grandiloquence, nor stentorian deeds. Everything was achieved through its simplicity and its good taste.

The bandoneonist, composer and arranger Ismael Spitalnik made the following remark: "In January 1940 I started with D'Agostino and when today I listen to the recordings I realize it sounded folk-like and simple. It precisely succeeded because of its simplicity, its clear and simple language, because of its singer Angel Vargas's way of expression, which allowed the audience to perfectly understand the lyrics. Furthermore he had chosen a refined repertoire, very nostalgic and much different to others'".

Another interesting opinion is that of Luis Adolfo Sierra: "D'Agostino was right with the purpose of creating a style of very simple musical conceptions, but with an expressive way of playing, carried out by a qualified nucleus of performers. But the identification with Angel Vargas determined, over the independent work of each one, the success of a team that managed to succeed at the time of the greatest presence of major tango figures".

The journalist Jorge Göttling warns us: "The one who thinks that D'Agostino played the piano, neither knows about piano nor knew D'Agostino. Both were simultaneously playing, as if they were a couple in the middle of romance".

Finally,the musician defines himself, telling us: "I am milonguero(fond of dancing), I always was, in the best sense of the word. I was a good dancer and I worked accompanying the best ones, like El Mocho and La Portuguesa, and Casimiro Aín as well. But El Mocho was the best, he was a cajetilla (elegant) that had no need of a baroque choreography, he was the most authentic and polished representation of a milonguero. So I shaped my orchestras with two conceptions that I never gave up: respect for the melodic line and rhythmic emphasis to make the dancing easier. When the singer breaks into the scene and displaces the musician from the spotlight, the orchestra was structured in such a way that music and singing did not interrupt the possibility of dancing. For that, the singer had to turn into one more instrument, a privileged instrument, but not apart".

In this brief summary we can conclude that the Angel D'Agostino orchestra was known because of a delicate simplicity, a good repertory, adequate for dancing and Angel Vargas was, an instrument indissoluble of the rest of the formation.

When the singer left the orchestra, the latter never was the same as before.

His full name was Angel Domingo Emilio D'Agostino. He was born in Buenos Aires in 1626 Moreno street, on May 25, 1900.

Music was a daily and familiar event for him; his father and his uncles were all musicians. There was a piano at his place and it turned out to be one of his toys. At a conversation with him he remembered that Manuel Aróztegui and Adolfo Bevilacqua were frequent visitors and that the piano never stopped its playing. The Bevilacqua's tango "Independencia" was played at his place earlier than its premiere, which took place in 1910.

He studied at a conservatory and as a child he began to play in public. It was an infantile trio in which a neighbor of his, Juan D'Arienzo, was also included. They appeared at a small theater placed near the Zoological Garden (neighborhood of Palermo), and as they were not paid they started a fire that soon was put out.

He quit high school because of music. Aristocratic families hired him to play during their parties. At a night local, he also began to play different rhythms and especially ragtime, a Negro beat brought by the English pianist called Frederickson, that he replaced when the latter could not play the piano because of his drunkenness.

He organized his first orchestra in 1920, to play tango and jazz, and was hired by the cabaret Palais de Glace. Among his musicians was Agesilao Ferrazzano, whom D'Agostino himself regarded as the best violinist of tango.

Even though he was invited several times, he never went out on tour and the reason of this behavior is one of the mysteries of his life.

At the time of silent movies, his was one of the pioneer orchestras that played at the cinemas. Musicians that passed through its ranks were: Juan D'Arienzo, Anselmo Aieta and Ciriaco Ortiz.

The first orchestra to play strictly tango was reunited in 1934, with the bandoneons of Jorge Argentino FernAndez and Aníbal Troilo, the violin of Hugo Baralis (Jr.) and the singer Alberto Echagüe.

Orquesta Angel D'Agostino
Orchestra Angel D'Agostino

He met Angel Vargas in 1932, he worked as a turner and the former introduced the latter in some of his performances. Only in 1940 the team was established when the orchestra was hired by the Victor label and they played on Radio El Mundo.

D'Agostino was a Buenos Aires character, and tango was not his only world. A skilled gambler and stubborn bachelor, he played poker at the Club del Progreso (a club where high society people used to go) and he had a close friendship with Enrique Cadícamo. About this relationship there is a curious story that portrays him completely. Cadícamo and D'Agostino had promised each other to never marry; they were playboys and bohemians and did not even think of being tied to a permanent link. But Cadícamo, after his fifty years of age, broke his word and married a twenty-year old girl. Since then D'Agostino never again talked to him.

With the voice of Angel Vargas he recorded 93 numbers, with Tino García 18, plus a duet with Miguel Cané, with whom he recorded 9 numbers. These singers also were in his orchestra: Raúl Lavié (2 numbers), Roberto Alvar (3 numbers) and, with Ricardo Ruiz he recorded the tango "Cascabelito", that in many records it mistakenly appears as sung by Vargas.

He died on January 16, 1991, alone, as he always wanted to be, plenty of music, friends and with the memory of so many women.

One of them, surely the most famous Argentine of the twentieth century, Eva Perón, gave him a clock of unique design, of which she had ordered only three pieces. Today that clock is part of the collection of the president of the Academic Board of Coleccionistas Porteños de Tango, don Héctor Lucci.


Sheet music by Ángel D'Agostino (The Library section)