Miguel Osés

Real name: Osés, Francisco Miguel
Lyricist, playwright, critic, journalist and politician
(4 October 1884 - 8 October 1928)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Ricardo García Blaya

his man of letters, son of Basque parents —up to this day a complete stranger—, had the rare privilege of contributing to the creation of a classic, the tango “A la gran muñeca”. It is undoubtedly, a major number in the genre, and whose music was written by the Spaniard Jesús Ventura, a composer and musical director of theatrical plays of a minor genre well known at that time.

He wrote the lyrics that, paradoxically, were seldom sung except for a few exceptions. So much so that, among the over fifty released renditions I own, in only three its words are sung, plus a radio broadcast by Libertad Lamarque.

However, this was not an obstacle so that Osés’s name appeared on all the record labels of the large number of discs that included this beautiful tango as an instrumental and, this way, consecrated his name for ever in our city music despite no other piece of his is known.

Curiously, either we do not know if there are other tangos composed by Jesús Ventura. It is a notable case, they are two authors that collaborated in the same and only tango they wrote and which, furthermore, became one the greatest milestones of the genre.

Thanks to the information supplied by Nicolás Testa, Osés’s great grandson, I knew that don Miguel was a founding member of the Argentine Society of Playwrights (Sociedad Argentina de Autores Dramáticos).

And this was not a chance event, theater was his great vocation. He was author of the comedy El astillero and the musical revue A la gran muñeca, which included the title tango sung by the female singer Manolita Poli which was premiered at the Teatro Buenos Aires on August 1, 1919.

He also told me about the journalistic activity of his great grandfather which was intensive and varied. He was theater critic and collaborated with newspapers and magazines of his time like: Caras y Caretas, P.B.T., El Hogar, Mundo Argentino, and was director of the Última Hora newspaper between 1924 and 1926. He as well contributed with his articles in La Vanguardia and in La Novela Semanal.

Our well-remembered friend Orlando del Greco, remembers him in his book Carlos Gardel y los autores de sus canciones, published by Héctor Lucci, in which he refers to a shimmy that El Zorzal recorded:

The critic and playwright Miguel F. Osés said about the popularity of this fox-trot in Mundo Argentino on January 2, 1924: «With Italian operetta, the Bertini-Gioana company succeeded in imposing something on us: a shimmy on Franz Lehar’s Dance of the Dragonflies (Der Libellentanz, “La danza delle libellule”) which still today is heard at all times. One evening in our capital it was played 1165 times by the orchestras, bands and by any musical device existing in Buenos Aires without mentioning radio broadcasts».

Lastly, Nicolás told me that all he know about Osés was told by his late grandfather and that he always had been surprised that he had not written anything about him. And that was one of the reasons why he brought to me this precious information hoping that I would publish it.

Finally, he summed up to me the manifold personality of his great grandfather when he mentioned his political activity. So I came to know that he was member of the old Socialist Party and, as its representative, he was voted as town councilor of Lomas de Zamora in 1916.

To end this short portrayal of the poet I shall mention the three renditions with vocals I know of “A la gran muñeca” and the radio take, plus a recording I was given of which I have no information and I don’t know if it was commercially released.

First, the one mostly known, by the vocalist Jorge Omar with the Francisco Lomuto Orchesta in 1936 for the Victor company; later the one by Roberto Arrieta with the Miguel Caló Orchestra in 1948 for Odeon; lastly the one by the Carlos Soler and Javier Di Ciriaco duo with the Orquesta Típica Argentina led by Jorge Arduh in 1999 for Diapasón.

The radio broadcast is by Libertad Lamarque in the program of Jabón Federal on Radio Belgrano in the early 40s. Some years ago Bruno Cespi gave me a recorded tape with another rendering, older and shorter, of the Jorge Arduh’s orchestra that seems to include a vocal duet or an overdubbed recording by Alberto Del Valle.

Up to this point we have arrived with the wish, shared with his great grandson, of rescuing Miguel Osés from oblivion, trying to comply, once more, with the recognition policy towards the forgotten heroes of our popular culture that we aimed at when we founded Todo Tango.