Adolfo Mondino

Real name: Mondino, Adolfo Antonio María
Pianist and composer
(7 December 1896 - 21 December 1963)
Place of birth:
Montevideo Uruguay
Horacio Loriente

ne of the best tango pianists of his time. He evidenced personality, excellent sound and correct fingering. He had studied music since early childhood but his father wanted for him another destiny so it gave rise to an uncomfortable situation that made him leave home.

He was a close friend of Enrique Delfino’s while the composer of "Milonguita" lived in Montevideo who at that time asked his opinion about the music he wrote. In his teen years he wrote and published his early tangos: “Chelín”, dedicated to his sisters Alicia, Tita and Maruja. “A vintén”, “Artículo 211” and “Machaleño”.

His show business career started in Buenos Aires when he replaced Eduardo Pereyra as soloist and appeared in Tandil, Santiago del Estero and Tucumán. He had a short tenure in the Juan Maglio Pacho orchestra in 1921 and later in the group led by the violinist Eduardo Bianco. But that time he composed the tangos “Adiós [b]” and “La Patricia”.

He returned to Montevideo and got reconcilied with his father. He joined the Trouppe Ateniense and his tangos began to be released on records. The first one was “Tus lunares” which had been presented at the second contest of tangos by the Nacional label in Buenos Aires and recorded by the Francisco Lomuto orchestra with not much acclaim. But the following year he released a number with lyrics by Víctor Soliño: “Negro”, a hit by the female singer Rosita Quiroga and later recorded by the Típica Víctor and the famous Maffia-Laurenz bandoneon duo. This tango still brings royalties due to its permanence in the European repertoires.

Adolfo Mondino, by that time, carried out different activities, among them, he run a music house on 2008 Sierra Street called Casa Azul which was in vogue until the radio – temporarily- displaced records in people’s choice.

Even though it is not his best tango, there is no doubt that his most popular one was “Maula”. He had begun to write it in Tandil in 1922 but it was published some years later when the lyrics written by Víctor Soliño were added. It was premiered at the Teatro Albéniz by Pepita Cantero and won the first prize at the contest of popular music held at the Teatro Solís at the carnival celebrations of 1927. The contest was sponsored by Dellazoppa & Morixe, agents of the Victor House in Uruguay.

A few days before, though it was not publicly known, Mondino had written two tangos in collaboration with Celedonio Flores. The corresponding manuscripts of “Figurita marfilina” and “Ya no cantás” are kept. The latter was dated on January 24, 1927.

In 1931 he began to appear with carnival groups. The first one was the Quinteto Palán Palán, and their members were Carlos García, Eugenio Giovanelli, Eduardo Depauli and Serafín García. They committed to record six numbers of that group, all with music by Adolfo Mondino: “Lloró el gaucho” with words by Celedonio Flores —dedicated to Enrique Delfino—; “Tus ojos negros”, folk song; “Parisina”, fox-trot, “Consuelo”, pasodoble with words by Víctor Soliño, and “Amada mía”, a fado with his own lyrics. The songbook also included the ranchera “Agarrate Catalina”, with words by Soliño.

Together with Ángel M. Laborde, as lyricist, in the carnival balls of 1932 he released the operatic patota Al Gran Bonete and two years later: the carnival quintet Caballeros de la Noche. Also the radio showcased Mondino and Laborde in a successful program that lasted for five uninterrupted years and was known as Ondas Musicales, born on Radio América and switched to Radio Rocci that was tuned in the frequency of CX42.

In 1940 Mondino made a stop in his musical creations until 1952. At that stage he alternated tangos with different expressions of our folk music.

In 1961 we were fortunate to meet him personally and a friendship then grew that only was cut by his sorrowful death. In his home he had an excellent upright piano where we were able to enjoy the artist in full dimension, with that style and that special sound that he got from his instrument which had left on us the memory of his milonguera and bordonera (swinging strong) left hand.

Mondino was born in the Ciudad Vieja (old city) of Montevideo. A brief mention of his most known pieces, omitting the ones named above, is necessary: “Patoteros”, “Milonga”, “En voz baja”, “Engrupido”, “Pajarito porteño”, from a repertoire that includes over eighty compositions.

It would not be fair to omit mentioning his wife who died a few years ago and lived devoted to sorting, filing in the record and encouraging the spread of Mondino’s oeuvre. A task with which we collaborated, amazed and touched by her exemplary devotion. Olga Panguzzi de Mondino cannot be outside our memory.

Originally published in the book: Ochenta notas de Tango. Perfiles Biográficos, Ed. La Plaza, Montevideo 1998. Sponsored by the Academia de Tango del Uruguay.