Pedro Sofía

Real name: Sofía Darino, Pedro
Violinist and composer
(1 January 1890 - 9 July 1976)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Ariel Curuchet
| Néstor Pinsón

on of Italian parents who did not become rich in America, he was born across the Mercado de Abasto, at a housing located on Lavalle Street.

Guitar was his first instrument and since he was a kid he had been playing it at all times for some years. His interest for music led him, later, to begin violin studies until he graduated as teacher of that instrument, likewise he studied piano, harmony and composition.

Throughout his career he trained a large number of disciples, many of them have joined the Teatro Colón orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional and other aggregations. At age fourteen he composed his first tango: “Echale arroz a ese guiso” (Add rice to that stew), a title taken from the Enrique Butaro’s Fumadas theater play (1902).

According to what he himself told us: «At that age I made a living by playing violin in the orchestra of the Teatro Apolo in which the company led by the Podestá brothers displayed their repertoire of theater plays. I had a tenure of several years there and so I was able to help my large family. By playing along with Francisco Payá, author of the tango “El conventillo [b]”, and with Antonio Reynoso I became a good trained musician. Despite my training since I was a kid I was attracted to that almost forbidden music known as tango. I managed to compose more than a hundred pieces of that genre. Some were published under my name but I gave most of them to friends and acquaintances. Many of these became quite popular and I was pleased that they were whistled in the street by people who did not know they were mine. And it happened that some of my friends published them but under their names.

«Recalling that time I have in mind two excellent musicians and friends: Carlos Posadas, whose tango “El taita [b]” I always remember, and Arturo De Bassi, for his tangos “La catrera” and “El caburé”, at that time so well-known but now they are scarcely heard».

When he began his military service De Bassi had just finished it. The latter was one year his senior and both, already renowned, were directors of the band of the Infantry Regiment Nº 2 located in Campo de Mayo. That connection with the military led him to write several tangos like “El 2 de línea”, “El rabanito [b]” —dedicated to Lieutenant Colonel José P. Marcilese—, “Don Oscar” —dedicated to the Captain Oscar Sartorio—, “El cabo Fels”, “El archivista”, “La tiranita”, to the memory of the beautiful cuplé singer the composer met in a variety show on Avenida de Mayo. «When people ask who she was I reply that I was unable to remember details».

Also the following belong to him: “No, señora, voy torcido” —a sentence pronounced by the actor Florencio Parravicini, impersonating a jolly streetcar driver—, “Alma criolla”, “Bordoneando”, “La cariñosa”, “Tu imagen” —a waltz with words by María E. Aguirre—, his wife. Numbers that were recorded by the Banda Municipal, La Filarmónica Porteña, conducted by Bartolomé Burlando, the Orquesta Típica led by Genaro Espósito, by the Quinteto Criollo El Alemán, fronted by Arturo Bernstein, and others.

He is as well the author of an operetta: Ironías del destino, written when he was only twenty years old. He was lecturer, concert player, writer of educational textbooks, one of the founding members of SADAIC (Sociedad Argentina de Autores y Compositores)(Argentine Society of Authors and Composers). He took part in the foundation of the Teatro Infantil Labardén, of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional, was professor of aesthetic education and choral singing and founder of the Asociación Argentina de Música de Cámara (Argentine Association of Chamber Music).

He confesses: «There was a time when I stopped writing tangos. I was fed up of hearing people that used to call me the “milonguero Sofía”. I was satisfied in writing them but I decided I had to show my capacity to dive into other music genres for which I was very well trained. Please remember that the renowned composers of the so-called classical music also wrote tangos, such as Alberto Drangosch, Athos Palma, Alberto Williams, Juan José Castro and others. Gilardo Gilardi, for example, harmonized Ernesto de la Cruz’s “El ciruja”. Of course, some of those tangos did not fit the necessary requirements to be regarded as popular pieces but mine, instead, were like those of Juan Maglio, Vicente Greco or Carlos Posadas

Besides tangos, he has written over two hundred pieces of the most different genres: symphony, chamber music, folk music, choral works. Until 1963, according to his own record he had taken part in programming 683 concerts, 50 programs on Radio Nacional, in 1000 cultural events in schools and hospitals. He was a man in the service of the people’s culture.

«I acknowledge that I worked my whole life in order to get a place for the Argentine composers in the circles of our culture. I spread the works of Esnaola, Aguirre, Juan Bautista Alberdi, Francisco Hargreaves and so many others. Even though I have spent bitter times due to ingratitude, I have had and I have beautiful rewards. Once an acquaintance told me that a man who played guitar wanted to learn to read and write music but he was scared because he had been told that such an effort would take him ten years. He asked me if I would accept him as a student. I agreed to see what I was capable to do. A few days later the man with his instrument came to my home. I asked him to play something. I gave him some examples so that he would harmonize them by ear and he intuitively solved them very well. I told him: “If you seriously commit yourself to study, and this does not mean a sacrifice for you, I think that in two years’s time you will be able to write and harmonize your compositions”. He was an exemplary student that quickly apprehended what he was taught and before the two years had passed he wrote and harmonized his “Zamba de la Candelaria”. He was Eduardo Falú. Since then he never forgot to send me a gift from the city or country where he was playing.»

He lived until the day he passed away on Avenida Pueyrredón 911, near the corner with San Luis Street. It was a sunny big house located in front of the famous Café Gariboto when the latter still hosted the Cuarteto Típico Pacho.