Definitions by the Expósito brothers in several interviews
irgilio: «For me, bohemia begins today at four in the morning when I wake up and I sit at the piano and play what I was dreaming of».
Homero Expósito: «An artist, d’you know?, must not look at himself in the mirror, but from the mirror».
Virgilio Expósito: «When we were kids we used to sell candies in the movie theater of the neighborhood. But as well Homero won a contest on poetry organized by the Noticias Gráficas journal and I used to go onstage to impersonate Maurice Chevalier. We did all kinds of things».
Homero: «Listen, recently I wrote this (it’s from 1976), it’s a new tango number. «You can’t live without killing/ without cutting a flower/ then putting on perfume and go on» (“Chau no va más”), because even the guy that eats herbs destroys grass.
«I want to name a musician that emigrated from Germany, who married a girl of our city, and who was the one that brought us and a group of boys from Zárate to Buenos Aires: Juan Ehlert. A nice man that still teaches harmony when he is over 80 years old. Furthermore, he composed the music for 78 movies and was the teacher of Virgilio Expósito, Enrique Francini, Armando Pontier, Héctor Stamponi, Cristóbal Herreros. It was a generation of greats that also included Cátulo Castillo, Homero Manzi, Enrique Santos Discépolo and others more and, in North America, Cole Porter and Gershwin had already appeared. The latter changed the music and made the blues of the Blacks for the whites.
«Of course, years before, Manzi would have been unable to write «Sur, paredón y después» or, in my case, that of «Trenzas del color del mate amargo». Our parents sent us to school so that we would not be like them: rustic immigrants. I went to the university, the school of philosophy. I quit before the final exams of Greek and Latin. Then I said “No more”. But I had studied all the books and I speak four languages, so does Cátulo and Manzi has read a large number of books about philosophy.
«Bohemian life passed away in the 50s and the same may have happened throughout the world. I never again saw it. Either here or in the countries of Europe I visited. We were a swarm of lazy bones that used to meet at four in the morning. Then time seemed to flow very slowly. Our city was inhabited day and night, with an eternal schedule. I talk about it in “Tristezas de la calle Corrientes”».
Virgilio: «I composed over two thousand pieces. I teach, I have disciples, so every day I get up with a new project of life. Artists do not accumulate years, they accumulate works. We are like watchmakers. They repair spheres and make needles work and the artist creates needles that would be faster than time.
«There are two different periods, one of formation, development and another of deformation, distortion. In the first one we have Julio De Caro, Homero Manzi, José María Contursi, Pedro Maffia and others. They were building an altar stone by stone. And the other one is when the tango singer turns out a vedette and begins to think he is more important than the musicians, the lyrics, the leader and everything. Very few are the exception. Rivero and some other. I must mention Aníbal Troilo, an intuitive man, he was not a studious man or fond of books, but there was nobody like him to lead singers».
Homero: «I came to know Discépolo at a tearoom. The Troilo orchestra played “Tristezas de la calle Corrientes”. Discépolo was at a table with Tania and a friend. When he heard the lyrics he said: «Who on earth can surpass this guy!» He stood up and got lost among the crowd. Right there, a rather pale young fellow, almost shaking, told Tania: «I am Homero Expósito and would like to meet Enrique. Where is he?» Tania replied: «He stood up to meet you».
«Our father was a gastronomical worker, down there in Zárate he run a candy store. When he got ill I had to travel very often and stay there to run the enterprise. I was born in Campana but a week later they took me to Zárate. With the candy store and some property I managed to survive so I began to study. At age twenty, in 1938, I arrived in Buenos Aires. My father was raised in the Casa de los Expósitos (Foundling House), hence our surname, but when he was six he ran away and did not stop working until he got ill.
«Soon after my arrival I began to be involved in political affairs concerning the SADAIC authors. It was when we overthrew Francisco Canaro. Manzi called me as a collaborator and I did that until 1950. Then, I was not an anti-Peronist, but as I was not a Peronist I had to flee. I was in Spain and France. The ticket for the steamboat was 400 pesos with meals and drinks included. With each meal I used to drink a bottle of white wine and a bottle of red wine. They did not get a successful business with me. After being in Spain I traveled to Paris and soon later an acquaintance told me: «Che, you’re quite lucky, “Pequeña” is a boom in Spain». For two years I had been trying to impose it but it was in vain. When I left Dalva de Oliveira arrived, recorded it and it happened.
«I was one year in Paris and I made my living by copying music for the Opera of Paris. Then they called me to tell me that my Dad was worse and I had to return. In Zárate I opened a first level restaurant: El Sibarita. And it turned out all right. But later I had the idea of opening another one in Mar del Plata, in Punta Mogotes. It was a failure and I said to myself that my profession was writing.
«You know that with my brother and other musicians I have a good number of successful pieces, but also some that did not stand out. Previously I mentioned “Tristezas de la calle Corrientes”, later “Al compás del corazón”, “Percal”, “Yuyo verde”, “Azabache”, “Flor de lino”, “Margo”, “Farol”, “Naranjo en flor”. We wrote boleros: “No vendrás”, recorded by Gregorio Barrios, also by Olga Guillot. “Vete de mí” was recorded by the Cuban Bola de Nieve, Roberto Yanés and many others. They sold very well. Even an anodyne modern tune for a vocal trio that was just beginning, “Eso”, which went like this: «Tú tienes eso, eso, eso...», no comments but, financially, it turned out OK.
«When they ask me about between which peers I place myself, I reply between Manzi’s nostalgia, which was not a weeping nostalgia but a sadness, which is not the same thing and, on the other side, with the tough thing, the criticism of Discépolo. When I write I feel certain affinities and I say to myself: maybe, tied to my leg, I have a fellow that writes this for me».
Excerpted from interviews with Homero Expósito and Virgilio Expósito, made by Paco Urondo for La Opinión Cultural (13/2/1972); by Orlando Barone, for Clarín Literario (4/3/1976); by Vicente Zito Lema, for the Crisis magazine Nº45 (August 1986).