Gerardo Matos Rodríguez

Real name: Matos Rodríguez, Gerardo Hernán
Nicknames: Becho
Pianist and composer
(18 March 1897 - 25 April 1948)
Place of birth:
Montevideo Uruguay
Horacio Ferrer

e was the creator of the worldwide known and most successful tango of all times: “La cumparsita”. He also composed a large worthy repertory undoubtedly superior to the most famous of his numbers. He was born in Montevideo, son of don Emilio Matos owner of the cabaret named Moulin Rouge. He studied architecture in the disappeared Mathematics School of his home town.

He soon quit those studies because he was attracted by the then intense and varied night life of the capital. An amateur pianist, he composed in 1917 his renowned tango “La cumparsita” on the piano of the Federación de Estudiantes of Uruguay. The tango orchestra led by Roberto Firpo premiered it at the café La Giralda and its first recording was made for the Victor house by the aggregation whose leadership was shared by the pianist Alberto Alonso and the bandoneonist Minotto Di Cicco the same year of its premiere (See “La cumparsita”).

He sold his composition for a good sum of money for that time —thirty pesos and 50 paper copies of it— to the Breyer publishing house of Buenos Aires and later in 1923 he recovered his copyrights with the help of his friends Enrique Delfino, Emilio Fresedo, Juan Carlos Bazán, Luis Catalán, José de Grandis, Enrique Carrera Sotelo and other members of the Asociación Argentina de Autores y Compositores de Música.

Later on “La cumparsita” had a second period in his long successful history when Pascual Contursi and Enrique P. Maroni, modifying the original music without permission of its composer added a lyric and a new title to it —“Si supieras”—, what originated a long and difficult judicial proceeding.

When he left Montevideo he lived in Buenos Aires and in Paris, and worked as Uruguayan consul to Germany. In 1931 he collaborated in the music of the movie Luces de Buenos Aires shot in Joinville, France which starred Carlos Gardel.

He also composed pieces for theater plays premiered in Buenos Aires: Manuel Romero’s El Gran Circo Rivolta, among them. Thereafter in Montevideo he led his own tango orchestra for a short time.

Other tangos of his output were: “Che papusa oí” —his choice—, “Son grupos”, “Yo tuve una novia”, “Cuando bronca el temporal”, “Hablame”, “Pobre corazón”, “Haceme caso a mí”, “Canto por no llorar”, “Rosa reseca”, “Botija linda”, “El pescador”, “Te fuiste, ¡ja, ja!”, “Adiós Argentina”, “Mi provinciana”, “La milonga azul”, “Dale celos”, “Raspail”, “Mocosita”, “La muchacha del circo”, “San Telmo”. He collaborated with the lyricists Enrique Cadícamo, Victor Soliño, Juan B. A. Reyes, Manuel Romero and Fernán Silva Valdés. With the latter he wrote a fine and touching series of Canciones Montevideanas to which "Margarita punzó" belongs.

He died in Montevideo after a painful disease.

From "El Libro del Tango", by Horacio Ferrer, Editorial Antonio Tersol, 1980, Spain.