Orlando del Greco

hen he was studying at the university in Montevideo he composed a litle march dedicated to a circle of students to which he belonged and which they called La comparsa, back in 1916, a year when Roberto Firpo with his orchestra was successfully appearing at the Café La Giralda in the capital city of Uruguay. His college partners presented the orchestra leader a sheet-music of what was to be known as “La cumparsita”.

About that, Firpo said for Revista de Tango, in 1952: «In 1916 I went to Montevideo with my orchestra, and there I premiered what today is a boom in the world, the tango “La cumparsita”. When I was playing at the Café La Giralda (today Palacio Salvo) somebody gave me that tango and at first I didn't pay much attention to it. But anyhow I promised to the boy who had brought it (a friend of Matos's, because he had not dared and was waiting at the café's entrance) to premiere it on a Friday. And in fact, it was a remarkable hit from the start... Who would have imagined then that “La cumparsita” with its shy composer that did not dare to bring personally his work, time later would be sung by all the peoples in the world! When I played it for the first time in Buenos Aires, at the Café Iglesias, I can say that it received the same acclaim that in its place of origin». (This he said in 1952, but in 1966 at an homage his colleagues paid to him for his sixty years with tango, Firpo stated on this celebration that “La cumparsita” had only as an outstanding feature the harmony of the first section and that he used one from his tango “La gaucha Manuela” and he inserted it into the march as trio —third section—, adding also one from the opera Miserere, by Verdi. Then “La cumparsita” would have music by Matos Rodríguez, Roberto Firpo and Giuseppe Verdi).

In 1924, then having the piece fallen into oblivion, Pascual Contursi and Enrique Maroni added lyrics to the music so as to be sung in the play Un programa de cabaret at the Apolo theater, and from then on “La cumparsita” began an unrivalled popularity, and it was the tango with the greatest number of lawsuits and, of course, the one which was most talked of.

This success awoke the sleeping capabilities of its composer and he reappeared in 1925 with another hit, “Mocosita”, a tango with lyrics by Víctor Soliño that was made popular everywhere in Rosita Quiroga's voice through her recordings.

When his musical abilities are known he is requested by playwrights such as Manuel Romero, Ivo Pelay, Juan Bautista Abad Reyes, Pablo Suero, Vicente Martínez Cuitiño and others, to musicalize his plays and so he collaborated in Gran Circo Rivolta, another called La cumparsita, Las argentinas vistas por los argentinos, San Telmo, La Rosa de hierro.

With lyrics of the above-mentioned or by other good poets like Celedonio Flores, Enrique Cadícamo, Fernán Silva Valdés, he released “Botija linda”, recorded by Agustín Magaldi; “Son grupos”, “Che papusa oí”, “San Telmo”, “La muchacha del circo”, “Globero”, “Te fuiste, ja, ja”, “Adiós Argentina”, “Yo soy la milonguera”, “La milonga azul”, “Raspail (El caballo de oro)”, “Rosa reseca”, “El pescador”, “Pobre corazón”, “Cuando bronca el temporal”, “Haceme caso a mí”, tangos; “Margarita punzó”, a song created by the Magaldi-Noda duo; “Bajo los sauces”, “La paisanita”, rancheras; “Con mis flores”, pasodoble; “Mi clavel”, “Hablame”, “Les peniches”, waltzes.

Working as journalist in Paris in 1931, as correspondent of several newspapers and magazines of the River Plate area, he is requested by his friends Manuel Romero and Carlos Gardel to collaborate in the motion picture to be shot there and he immediately agreed. So he composed for Luces de Buenos Aires, with lyrics by Romero, the song “El rosal” sung by Gardel, “Mi provinciana” tango interpreted by Sofía Bozán, “La serrana”, a zamba sung in chorus and danced by the theater company and, in collaboration with Enrique Delfino: its “leit-motiv” (the