León Benarós

Real name: Benarós, León
Nicknames: Ernesto Segovia y Juan Garré
Poet, writer, lirycist, researcher and critic
(6 February 1915 - 25 August 2012)
Place of birth:
Villa Mercedes (San Luis) Argentina
Néstor Pinsón

shall begin this portrayal quoting some lines that were published in a morning paper in his obituary. They would date back to 1990, when he was 85, and logically, was foreseeing his final time.

Ay, tiempo, que nos reduces
nos menguas y simplificas
y en el lecho de la Nada
nos tiendes y sacrificas.
¿Sucesión interminable
o inmóvil eternidad?
Nos mides y nos señalas
la hora de la verdad.

(Oh, time, that subdue us, diminish and simplify us, and in the bed of nothingness lay us down and sacrifice us. Endless string or motionless eternity? You measure us and give us a hint of the time of truth).

This shall be a short chronicle about someone who allowed himself to contribute for our Todo Tango portal. His oeuvre is so copious that it would be hard to transcribe it in full. Furthermore, it is easy to reach it through the present communication media. Possibly somebody had measured it because the number 250 is mentioned. His first book was published in 1943: “Antiguas ciudades de América”.

In 1962, along with José Gobello and Luis Soler Cañas, he had the idea of founding the Academia Porteña del Lunfardo which is still alive and for which he wrote up its statutes and was its vice-president. Since 1992 he was member of the Academia Nacional del Tango.

Among the many recognitions he had in his long career we shall mention just a few: Award for his career (Fondo Nacional de las Artes), Emeritus Personality of the Argentine culture (Secretaría de Cultura de la Nación) and Distinguished Citizen of the city of Buenos Aires (Legislatura Porteña).

He was contributor for a large number of magazines and newspapers in our country and abroad. His books –a great number with poems-, were translated into German, English and French.

In the Todo es Historia magazine —directed by Félix Luna— he devised his space and entitled it El Desván de Clío (one of the nine muses. She is the one who presides over history and she appears with a roll of papers or a box with books). In our portal there are fourteen works that belong to him and which were taken from that publication. He also published Siete para el Tango, with biographies about Rosendo Mendizábal and Rosita Quiroga, among others.

Among his lyrics for folk music numbers “La tempranera” stands out, with music by Carlos Guastavino, it was widely spread and was recorded, among others by Mercedes Sosa. Also his are the lines of Cara de Negro, a record with music by Sebastián Piana which includes twelve candombes and pregones (street shouted announcements) of Buenos Aires. Other lyrics were for songs about traditional characters: “El Chacho Peñaloza”, “Martín Güemes”, “Forjadores de la Patria”, “Romancero criollo”.

When Ben Molar had the idea of releasing the record 14 Para el Tango with fourteen different lyricists and fourteen composers –each work was accompanied by a painting- he teamed up with Mariano Mores to write “Oro y gris” which in the recording María Graña sings backed up by the orchestra led by Alberto Di Paulo.

With music by the singer Héctor Palacios he wrote “Los paraísos”, a waltz committed to disc by the above singer/composer accompanied by a guitar group.

For the movies, with Sebastián Piana, he wrote “Recordando a Arolas” for the film Derecho Viejo. Teaming up with Piana he released other numbers: “Buenos Aires tres mil”, “Milonga del lecherito”, “Morocha soy todo tuyo”. And with Gabriel Clausi, he wrote the waltz “No digas”.

His life was long and fruitful for those who, like us, are connected with cultural matters and, especially, tango.

He was born in Villa Mercedes (province of San Luis) and on a winter day in Buenos Aires he died at a very old age but up to his last minute he was perfectly lucid. It was very important for me having the chance of acquainting him and my eyes will always bring his image before me whenever I read his oeuvre. It will be a difficult thing, almost impossible, not to bump into him in my reading room when I look for material to write a new work.