J. Nirvassed

Real name: Dewavrin, José
Pianist and composer
(n/d - n/d)
Place of birth:
Nord-Pas de Calais France

nfortunately we know nothing about his birth or about his death. We only know that José Dewavrin was born in France and it is quite likely that, according to the origin of his family name, his birth would have taken place in the region Nord-Pas of Calais.

The old chronicles locate him in the present province of La Pampa, back in 1899, as president of the school Council of Victorica, in a region devoted to sheep breeding. It is said that he came to Argentina because of business connected with the textile industry and especially with wool and he ended up settling in that area for several years.

Two years before, in the La Capital newspaper there were news from Telén –a town 12 kilometers far from Victorica-, that commented that in the don Alfonso’s estancia, who by that time was in France, on July 14th the French National Day was celebrated and the honor of the house was made by Mr. and Mrs. Dewavrin.
As a historical information it is important to highlight that the La Capital newspaper was founded in 1893 in Santa Rosa, capital of the then Gobernación of La Pampa, and was published until the late 1983.

José Dewavrin was the person in charge of the estancia Santa Camila whose owner was a compatriot of his, Alfonso Lernaud. When he made a halt in his work he composed little pieces on a pianola under the sobriquet J. Nirvassed and he did it well despite he did not write music —on his behalf his music was written by formally trained musicians—, to such an extent that a company in Paris, France, had paid for them a large sum of money for their publication.

Some of his early numbers evidence the influence of the region: “Lamentos pampeanos”, “Aromas del monte”, “Noche pampeana”, “Marcha triunfal pampeana”, “Idilio pampeano”, also “Noche de amor”, “Vals Boston” and many other pieces published by J. Medina e Hijo, Florida 258, Buenos Aires.

After 1906 we don’t have information of his whereabouts until there is news with his name in 1913, no less that telling us about his first award at a tango contest organized by the Sociedad Sportiva de Capital Federal. The tango at issue was entitled “El Tony” and it had some trouble with the public because of the nationality of the composer.

His success at the contest is quite praiseworthy because 62 pieces contended and because the board was prestigious. Its president was Julián Aguirre and the other members were Armando Chimenti, Vicente Madero and Daniel Videla Dorna.

An extremely picturesque individual due to his extroverted temper and his Franco-gaucho-like jargon, he did not disdain, despite his comfortable financial situation, to compose advertising pieces like the tangos: “Muy del jugo Maggi”, “Muy del Aperital” and others. In an interview of 1913 he confessed having created over 150 pieces that included waltzes, mazurkas, polkas and tangos.

The researcher Ricardo Ostuni brings forth the Comunicación Académica 1326 of the Academia Porteña del Lunfardo of December 31, 1993 by José Gobello in which the latter tells us that he discovered the real name of J. Nirvassed in a photocopy of the Fray Mocho magazine that the sculptor Atilio Morosín had sent him. The article was about the First Prize he had won with his tango “El Tony” at a contest organized by the baron Antonio María Demarchi at the Palace Theatre on September 22 and 23, 1913.

Dewavrin had arrived in Argentina in 1893 and settled in the then Gobernación de la Pampa where he was one of the founders of the town of Telén. There he owned a field. He played music by ear and composed on the piano at the estancia rather as a hobby than as an artist’s vocation.

His sobriquet was an anagram of his family name with a change of the ‘w’ for ‘ss’. Among other compositions, he was composer of the tangos “Caballeros Club”, “No faltes al biógrafo”, “Todos mis votos” “Feliz año nuevo” and others.

Curiously, he considered that that First Prize he had won for his tango “El Tony” had been awarded for his condition of composer and not for the piece at issue. Because of that in the sheet music copies he composed after 1913 the following writing appeared: «1er Premio Concurso tangos Sportiva Argentina» which can lead to error or confusion as for which of his creations he had won the award.

The last piece of news we know about José Dewavrin was that he returned to France when World War I broke out. There we lost his track even though we have this part of his story.

The text by Gobello commented by Ostuni turns out quite interesting. Despite some little difference the communication is in accordance with the chronicles of the La Capital de La Pampa newspaper.