Miguel Villasboas

Real name: Villasboas Rogliardo, Miguel Ángel
Pianist and leader
(30 December 1936 - )
Place of birth:
Montevideo Uruguay
Esteban Toth

e led the most popular tango aggregation, after Donato Racciatti’s, of Uruguay. During his career he remained faithful to a traditional and evocative style, deeply linked to the maestro Roberto Firpo’s.

He was born in the intersection of the neighborhoods of Pocitos and Parque Rodó, to be more precise, between Boulevard España and Libertad. Since a young age he was interested in music. His father was his first piano teacher and who taught him to read music.

In his teen years he was inclined to the popular music of the River Plate: tango.

His musical career was furthered with the teaching activity. He graduated as professor of History of Musical Education at the Instituto de Profesores Artigas (IPA), devoting himself to high school teaching. He taught in all the official schools of Montevideo and the locality of Las Piedras and at some private institutions from 1960 to 1993, when he retired. At the IPA he studied harmony and composition with maestro Hugo Balzo and history of music with Lauro Ayestarán.

In 1952 he formed his first tango group which was named Quinteto Miguelito whose members were himself on piano, Ramón García, Ramón Correa (bandoneons), Samuel Espalter, Héctor Scalabrini (violins), Reinari (double bass). He appeared at dancehalls, recitals and on television to much acclaim.

In 1955 maestro Nicolás Agapios, who led an important orchestra at that time, summoned him to join his ranks as pianist. In 1959, because of the leader’s death, he again put together an orchestra of his own, more precisely, a sextet with an emcee. Through the ranks of his aggregation passed great Uruguayan musicians of the level of Pedro Severino, a virtuoso violinist that played for 30 years along him; Félix Cabral, Mario Orrico (violins); Roberto Gómez, Miguel Trillo, Héctor Blengio, Toto Bianco (bandoneons); Vicente Martínez, Mario Bianco, Alfredo Viscuso (double bass).

In March 1964, in his last appearance in Uruguay, at the Palacio Sud América, Roberto Firpo invited Miguel to play in his quartet and the latter played the tango “El choclo”. Then, after listening to his performance the maestro told him: «Kid, you steal me everything!».

His discography is quite large: 60 long-playing records, 18 cassettes, 10 compact discs, recorded at different record companies: Sondor, London, Clave, Odeon of Argentina and, lately, at the Montevideo Music Group.

He toured throughout Uruguay, also appearing in the Argentine provinces and at the southern area of Brazil. Furthermore he traveled to the United States; Miami in 1988, New York in 1990, where he played at recitals and concerts, along with maestro Raúl Jaurena, an Uruguayan bandoneonist based in that city and leader of the New York Tango Trio.

We must add that the President of the República Oriental del Uruguay, in agreement with the Minister of Education and Culture, declared that his show was of National Interest, for the encounter that took place in August and September 1997 in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in Australia. He performed for the Uruguayan, Argentine and Chilean audiences living there to great acclaim.

He also stood out as unionist. He was official of the Sociedad Uruguaya de Intérpretes (SUDE) and member of the Sociedad de Autores del Uruguay (AGADU) at different periods that spanned from 1972 to 1997.

He made, between October and November 2001, a big tour of Japan to an extraordinary acclaim.

In 1976 he was awarded a gold long-playing disc by the London label of England because of the sales success of his recording of De pura cepa. And, in 1993, he was awarded the prize Fabini for leading the best tango orchestra in Uruguay.

Villasboas has been a tenacious, persistent artist in his struggle in order that tango would not lose the position that it deserves in our cultural identity in the River Plate.

He played alongside great stars: Osvaldo Fresedo, Miguel Caló, Juan D'Arienzo, Alberto Castillo, Francisco Canaro and many others.

Finally, it is my intention that this portrayal will help to gauge and ponder the will, the love, the perseverance and the seriousness that this beloved and popular maestro has given us throughout his lifetime to make us happy and to touch us because «what pleases the ear reaches our heart».