Alberto Rasore

e was born in Ensenada, province of Buenos Aires. He was the eldest son of five siblings of the couple formed by Rafael and Vicenta Goldaracena. His father was born in Barcelona and was administrator of the seaports of La Plata and Comodoro Rivadavia. Furthermore he was the first president of the Círculo de Oficiales de Mar (Navy Officers Circle) of that city.

When he was a child he was drawn to painting and music. He studied at the Academia de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Academy) under the direction of Mariano Montesinos, and at the Conservatorio Santa Cecilia where he learned to play violin, violoncello and piano, but he never finished any of those studies.

His debut was in September 1919, at age fourteen, at the Confitería París of La Plata, as violoncello player in the orchestra led by the bandoneonist Ángel Eladio Ramos (Ramito). The aggregation was lined up with Natalio Porcellana on accordion, Fausto Frontera on violin, Primitivo Carrera on flute and clarinet, and Arturo Dallecio on piano.

The following year he frequented the Cine Bar Colón where the group led by Ponciano García used to play. Due to his young age, Mateo used to ask permission to the bandleader to replace either the pianist or the violinist and also the bandoneonist, despite he had never studied that instrument.

As from 1924 he appeared in Buenos Aires, playing violin and piano. Later he returned to the Bar Colón where he again joined the Ponciano’s orchestra until the late twenties when he joined the orchestras led by Anselmo Aieta and Osvaldo Fresedo.

He settled in Paris in 1931 and, the following year, he was associated with Carlos Gardel and accompanied him in twelve recordings and in the shooting of three of the four movies that El Morocho made in France.

Curiously, among the extensive discography by Gardel, the above mentioned 12 recordings with Mateo would be the only tracks that Gardel cut in 1932. The numbers are the tangos “Mentira”, “Pan”, “Otario que andás penando” “Por favor dejame”, “Sueño querido”, “Noches de Montmartre”, “Aquellas cartas”, “Sorpresa” and “Cara rota” with Juan Cruz Mateo on piano and a violinist that may be Fernando Ibáñez Camallonga, or the Catalonian Joaquín Solsona, plus Julio Aramendi on vibraphone in the waltz “Sueño de juventud”. Mateo and the guitarist Rafael Iriarte (El Rata) backed him up in the song “El rosal” and in the tonada (air) “Mentiras”.

The doubt about the violinist is because on the disc labels Solsona’s last name appears without his first name. But Orlando del Greco in his book Gardel y los autores de sus canciones says that the poet Rafael Ibáñez Camallonga, author of the lyrics of “Por favor dejame”, states that his brother Fernando Ibáñez Camallonga is the violinist that played in the recordings.

He was the pianist that recorded the largest number of times with Gardel, surpassing Rodolfo Biagi with 7 recordings and Alberto Castellanos with 6.

In September 1932 Juan Cruz Mateo again worked with Gardel in the shooting of the movies filmed in Joinville, France. In Espérame Juan Cruz Mateo backed him with his sextet in “Me da pena confesarlo” and in “Criollita de mis amores”. In the short movie La casa es seria Gardel sings “Recuerdo malevo” accompanied by the orchestra led by Mateo and in the motion picture Melodía de arrabal he backs him in “Silencio” and “Melodía de arrabal”. When he sang this tango (the title song) for the first time in the movie, Mateo accompanied him with his sextet, playing violin and, lastly, in “Mañanita de sol” in a duo with Imperio Argentina, Mateo played piano.

According to the article by Hamlet Peluso and Eduardo Visconti, «Los acompañamientos musicales de Carlos Gardel» of the book Para vos, Morocho, published by the Museo Casa Carlos Gardel, the orchestra was lined up with: Mateo and Ramón Mendizábal (piano), Julio Falcón, Ángel Maffia, Gerardo Martínez and José Schumacher (bandoneons), Juan Ghirlanda, Segundo Ardanaz and Esteban Rovati (violins), Horacio Pettorossi and Esteban Gutiérrez (guitars) and Louis Montigny (double bass).

Also that year he formed with the guitarist Rafael Iriarte and Juan Carlos Marambio Catán a trio he named Trío Buenos Aires. They appeared in Barcelona.

In the Victor catalogues in Spain are found the recordings of the trio: the song “Tus trenzas negras”, the chacarera “La sanjuanina”, the zamba “Blanco y azul”, the Marambio Catán’s pericón “Pobre gallo” and the pieces by Julio Vega: the waltz “Besos de plata” and the zamba “La calandria”.

With Marambio Catán he committed to record the tangos “Hacelo por la vieja”, “Dorita”, “Confesión”, “Dicen que dicen”, the waltz “Palomita blanca” and the tango “Acquaforte”. With Vega he recorded “Ayer se la llevaron”, “Cartas de amor” and “No seas así”, with music by the singer and lyrics by Enrique Dizeo. The last recording of the trio is the tango “Guitarra mía” with the singer Francisco Alfredo Marino as guest artist. The latter is author of “El ciruja”.

He also recorded with his orchestra and the same singers: “Clavel del aire”, “Yo tengo la culpa” (Marambio), “Media vida” (Vega), “Ave María purísima” and “Tango mío” (Vega-Marambio duo). With his piano and guitars he accompanied Rosita Barrios in “Alma de bandoneón” and teaming up with Luis Mandarino as a duo “Mi viejo amor”.

He composed with Marambio Catán the tango “Todavía estás a tiempo”. He also wrote the tangos “Yo tengo la culpa”, “Cartas de amor”, “Una vida” with lyrics by the singer Roberto Maida and the ranchera “Ave María purísima” with lyrics by Enrique Dizeo.

He toured Europe for 7 years and returned for a short time to La Plata in 1938 and that same year he came back to Paris. Then he began to quit tango to devote himself entirely to painting. He preferred the futurist style, achieving international recognition when he turned out winner at the Grand Prix de France and Colonies.

Ill with cancer, he returned definitively to La Plata in 1949. He was smothered with attentions at the Bar Colón where he had appeared as a beginning musician three decades before but now they paid homage to him as a renowned painter. He exhibited his works at the Galería Peuser of the Capital and his paintings Ciclistas (Cyclists) and Cabello de lino (Flaxen Hair) were shown at the Museo de Bellas Artes of La Plata, also his pictures Pizarro en París and Autorretrato at the Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno.

He died at the Hospital Policlínico of La Plata. As a finale of this evokation we quote the words by Marambio Catán, from his book of memoirs El tango que yo viví, 60 años de tango, who said about him:

«O! The great Cruz Mateo, son of La Plata, if we would like to be fair with his talent, with his capabilities as man, with his art career, he should have a street or a place to remember the name of Juan Cruz Mateo in the capital of the province as an example for the future generations preoccupied by the expressions of the soul. About Juan Cruz Mateo I would have to write many volumes. When you watch his pictures with their amazing color you guess the finesse of his spirit latent in each one of them. As a painter he can be placed among the best, as a musician he mastered everything as a man with great skills, and as a man I never met someone as near as a complete man, the perfect human being.»