Félix Lipesker

Real name: Lipezker, Félix
Nicknames: Félix Villa
Bandoneonist, composer and teacher
(15 January 1913 - 22 March 1970)
Place of birth:
Rosario (Santa Fe) Argentina
Julio Nudler

osé Lipezker and Ana Dobin had met in Odessa. From there they emigrated to Argentina in 1910. Then they were young but they had already married. She died in 1928 when she was only 35 and had given birth to six male children. A woman neighbor had suggested her to drink, as contraceptive, the bluing used to whiten laundry. That was a toxic substance that her liver did not tolerate. All her children had been born in Rosario: Germán in 1912, Félix in 1913, León in 1916, Santos (in fact, Solomon) in 1918, Marcos and Freddy (Jaime) in 1925.

José was a cap maker, a trade in which he prospered until he owned a workshop with twenty workers. But their welfare did not help them against the terrible family shock that Ana’s early death meant. Her children were at that time between 3 and 15 years old. Before dying, she warned her husband that she would never accept another mother for her children and José complied with her wish. He never married again.

Germán, the eldest son, one afternoon saw that on a shop window there was a German Alfred Arnold Doble A bandoneon with white mother-of-pearl inlays. He bought it but he had no definitive purpose. Some days later, Félix discovered the strange box and when he opened it he had before his eyes an instrument with a pure beauty. In a few weeks he was able to play some melodies. Then Germán sent him to study with Abel Bedrune. One year later he appeared at a café in Rosario as member of the orchestra of his teacher.

Félix was outlining his style as a delicate, subtle, intimate interpreter. In 1934 he traveled to Buenos Aires to join the Julio De Caro’s aggregation. The latter had summoned him because Pedro Laurenz and Armando Blasco had split with him and he had heard of a young man from Rosario that played bandoneon very well.

Prior to his greatest hits as composer, like the waltz “Romántica” with lyrics by Homero Manzi, Félix had written the tango “A Rosario Central”. All the Lipeskers were fans of this soccer team. Meanwhile they had replaced the z of their family name for an s). The sheet music, with a photo of the team on the front cover, was sold for 10 cents in the old stadium of «los canallas».

Also with lyrics by Manzi he composed the beautiful waltzes “Más allá” and “Tu nombre” and the tangos “Alba”, “Muchacha [b]” and “Pajarito [b]”. They also wrote the milonga “Arrabal [b]” in which the poet of Pompeya imagines a yellow moon that sows mysteries by walking on tiptoe on the roofs.

Several well-remembered tangos were co-written by Félix and the pianist Emilio Barbato. They are the following: “Este viejo corazón” with words by José María Contursi; “Adiós adiós corazón” and “Naná” with lyrics by Cátulo Castillo. They were all recorded, at least, by the Osvaldo Fresedo orchestra, whose pianist was precisely Barbato, and published by Julio Korn. But the latter thing, according to what will be seen below, leads to have doubts about the true contribution of Félix as composer. It is quite possible that he had only contributed to the certainty of the publication. In 1944 he released “En cada puerto un adiós” and one year later: in collaboration with Leonardo Timor (Once Jerome), “Mi nataí”, a tango with an exotic touch. A field in which the lyricist Horacio Sanguinetti succeeded in getting the best.

Félix opened a conservatory with Carlos Marcucci. This led to the publication of the famous Marcucci-Lipesker method for bandoneon playing, released in 1945. This method was also taught by mail. There was an increasing number of orchestras in the provinces and, as the bandoneon players were so few, they even admitted those who had learnt by mail. Félix had been with the admirable Marcucci in the bandoneon section of De Caro that also included the renowned Gabriel Clausi. Among the well-known alumni that studied with Félix was Leopoldo Federico who quit those lessons because he was not able to pay the fifteen pesos a months that the teacher charged.

Félix bought the Sudamericana music publishing company that later sold to Julio Korn but he himself became the manager of all the merger. Meanwhile his wife, Matilde Bussano, insisted that he had to give up his tiring life as a musician with its long sleepless nights at cabarets. Then Félix split with De Caro and devoted himself to exploiting the three resources he possessed: his musical knowledge, the conservatory and the publishing company. With the latter he released the Bandoneonist’s Library which consisted of famous classical pieces, adapted and fingered for bandoneon, that included from Chopin’s waltzes to works by Albéniz, as well as Rimsky Korsakov and Paganini pieces and even the Hanon method for piano. He also released albums with variations for bandoneon. Each one contained ten variations on tangos by composers such as De Caro, Aníbal Troilo or Enrique Santos Discépolo.

Frequently people have doubts if Félix Lipesker is the real composer in each case but no one can deny his capabilities. Such is the case of the arrangements for solo bandoneon that he co-signed with Leopoldo Federico. The first of these corresponded to the Julio De Caro’s tango “Guardia vieja” in which Lipesker’s name appeared in fonts of a larger size than Federico’s. The latter, saying nothing about this outrage, prepared his revenge when he delivered the second arrangement, in this case it was “La rayuela”, also composed by De Caro. He added the names of the authors in block letters and wrote his name in a large font size while he wrote Lipesker’s name below and in a small size. In like manner, Félix made no comment but since then the two names have been printed with the same size. It was too much to stand that Lipesker appeared as arranger when he had not written a note and furthermore to get a pay for the job that was nearly symbolic. Even though the pay was low, it was a little better when the composer of the tango that was arranged had died. Then that influenced to work on pieces of dead composers like Eduardo Arolas or Agustín Bardi. As for the method, nearly all the bandoneonists think that Marcucci was its sole author. But in case Félix revised and corrected it that would have been a relevant work.