José Marmon

Real name: Marmon, José Rosario C.
Nicknames: Pepino
Bandoneonist and composer
(n/d - n/d)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Oscar Zucchi

he dates of his birth and his death are unknown. According to some pieces of information, among them the one brought by Gabriel Clausi, a regular friend in his youth, he maybe was born in the mid- 1880s and died in the 40s.

Clausi’s early visits were to little tin hut in the neighborhood of southern Flores, in the area of the low lands near the place where town garbage was burnt. Time later their rendezvous was at a small house with a balcony facing the street in the neighborhood of Boedo, on the Gallegos dead end street between Maza and Virrey Liniers. It was close to the house of the Vivas family. One son of this family, Julio, was later a guitarist that backed up Gardel.

The Bates wrote about him: «It’s hard to believe that this modest, humble man had been a famous character at dancehalls, cheap venues and serenades in the old days. Pepino was, possibly the first one in being showcased playing a tango». They do not say with what instrument.

He was a music player for about thirty years, generally at humble venues: cafés, backyard balls and also at nearby whorehouses and in far distant towns. He was a musician by instinct, he was born with a natural ability for musical instruments and also to carve wood and do things that required a hand dexterity.

As bandoneon player, even though he played by ear, he had a privileged ear and an outstanding musical memory. He was able to remember any kind of music and to play it later with his bandoneon.

She used to go to church to listen to sacred music that he later play with his instrument. He had a younger brother that also played bandoneon. His name was Nicolás Marmon but he was also known as “Toyo”.

A neighbor that only managed to play a waltz on his accordion taught him the first elementary positions and he then played that instrument at balls and friendly meetings for four years.

When he was only twelve he was amazed by an itinerant player named Barboza that simultaneously guitar and a harmonica attached to the stringed instrument like Villoldo, José Luis Padula did and in recent times the humorist Don Pelele and the balladeer León Gieco do.

He polished his guitar technique with a renowned guitar strummer of that time: “El Negro Lorenzo”. But for three years he earned some bucks playing the double instrument. From harmonica he switched to flute and in 1905 he joined a quartet that included its leader Fausto Frontera (violin), Juan C. Ghio (piano), the latter’s brother (bandoneon) and Pepino (flute). And someone lent him a bandoneon and so he began his classes with Magginini “El Lombardo” who taught him his first lessons.

The room of his house with balcony facing the street was the frequent meeting place of musicians, among them Ricardo Brignolo and Julio Vivas. It was in Boedo where he forged the modest fame he achieved. He used to appear at cafés like the one on Loria and Chiclana, the one on Azopardo and Belgrano and, among others, the one on Boedo Street between Carlos Calvo and Humberto Primo where he played for four uninterrupted years. Also at the El Protegido, on San Juan and Pasco. He appeared at other ones in different neighborhoods like at La Paloma. There he played along with Domingo Santa Cruz.

He was member of orchestras that performed in theaters like the Variedades and the Boedo movie theater. In 1915 he played in a group led by his brother “Toyo” for some recordings for the Favorito Record label with the young neighbor Julio Vivas. He traveled to Montevideo and on his comeback he appeared in several Argentine provinces and in the Martín García island he played for the convicts of the prison built there.

Another customary place of meeting was the Clausis’ house on 865 Santander Street in Flores. Around 1919 he played at courtyard balls along with several boys and the precocious “Chula” who was only eight years old. In 1924 he formed a quartet with Clausi (bandoneon), Juan Cruz Mateo (violin) and Benito Sepúlveda (guitar).

As composer he has been attributed around 380 pieces among tangos, mazurkas, polkas, estilos and others. This output may have an explanation. Because he had syphilis doctors recommended him to play for some time and rest for a while and at the time he was resting his inspiration appeared.

Only twelve numbers were committed to record —maybe some more— for the short-lived Favorito Record label under the name Cuarteto Criollo Pepino and also Cuarteto Toyito. They are the following: "Pichón de urraca" (tango) composed by Domingo Pérez; compositions by José Marmon: the waltzes "Sol adorado", "Sueño en ti", "Noche buena", "Piedra de oro", "Besos y abrazos", "Cariño y pensamiento", "El pimpollo" and the tangos "El cocorito", "Siga la música", "Pulguita" and "Ave negra".