Froilán Aguilar

Real name: Aguilar, Froilán
Guitarrist, lyricist and composer
(9 October 1896 - 26 January 1974)
Place of birth:
Montevideo Uruguay
Horacio Loriente

n 14 Aurora Street, in the heart of the neighborhood of Paso del Molino, in Montevideo, Froilán Aguilar was born. Son of Francisco Aguilar and Cecilia Porrás Soca and brother of two great guitar players: José María Aguilar, soloist and accompanist of famous singers of his generation —Carlos Gardel, among them— and Francisco, an artist that prematurely passed away.

Froilán Aguilar also devoted his life to guitar playing. Accompanist of singers from his teen years, he thought that his appearances had begun to be important in early 1924 when he was member of the criollo quintet called Los incógnitos, quite successful at the carnival balls and on El Día radio station. His team mates were Italo Goyeche, who sang a comic tango entitled “Es un bicho la mujer”, Carlos Bértola Rayera, Luis Viapiana and José María Aguilar. The Aguilar brothers were showcased playing the piece “Borocotó” as a guitar duo.

Soon thereafter Froilán Aguilar settled in Buenos Aires. There, along with his brother, he backed the appearances of the Rosita Quiroga and Rosita Del Carril duo at the Teatro Empire. When the duo broke up he continued his collaboration with Rosita Quiroga, alone, on Radio Cultura and later he put together a group with Blanquita Ramos, an excellent female singer, and the brothers Julio and Alfredo Navarrine to appear at the now disappeared Teatro Hippodrome. For a short time, in 1926 he was part of the accompanying group of Ignacio Corsini but, because he missed his land, he soon returned to Montevideo.

Here he furthered his studies with maestro Calatayud and also took piano lessons with Rogelio Mastrángelo. As guitarist he opened nearly all the radio stations in Montevideo. In 1930 he joined the Trío Nacional de Guitarras, with Julio Pizzo and Alfonso Picera. They won several contests. Froilán Aguilar and Dr. Juan Carlos Patrón, as authors, then released “Murmuyos” and “Caprichosa”, which were included in the anthological songbook of Carlos Gardel. The lyrics of the fado “Caprichosa” was a gift from Dr. Patrón to Froilán Aguilar. For that reason the former’s name neither appears on sheet music copies nor on the labels of records.

The Trío Nacional de Guitarras was part of the folk group Los Trovadores and, later, Froilán Aguilar and Diego Picera along with two singing duos, the sisters Carmen and Magdalena Méndez, on one side, and Diego Picera and Narciso Medero, on the other, reached a brilliant success around 1932, with an exclusive repertoire by Froilán Aguilar and Juan Carlos Patrón, who also released a fado entitled “Allá en la sierra”, a hit by the Gómez-Vila duo.

In April 1934 the Aguilar brothers appeared alongside the Argentine singer Armando Sentous Barbé. Froilán formed the Conjunto Criollo Aguilar with the female singer Rufina T. Bárcena and the guitarrists Julio Fontela and Juan Ferro appearing on Radio Uruguay CX26, where the ranchera “Atropellá nomás” and the fox-trot “El perfume de tus besos” were premiered. In 1935 on the old Fada Radio he was member of the folk group of the radio station with Fontela and Ferro and the accordionist Raúl Fossati.

At shows in El Circo Aéreo and La Hora Ideal, the well-remembered national singer Roberto Bengoa sang, for the first time, the Froilán Aguilar’s tango “Jardín florido” along with Aguilar, Fontela and Ferro. On August 7, 1936 a homage was paid to him for his eight years of performance on radio.

His artistic interest drove him to other goals. In 1943 he appeared as classical concert guitar player at the SODRE, and started a tour throughout the interior of the country and the south of Brazil.

Due to personal reasons he had to withdraw from show business but returned in 1947. He was founder of La Comedia Nacional. He played the musical background for the performance of Alberto Candeau in the play “La espada desnuda” by Juan León Bengoa and there he premiered his estilo “Lejanías”. He was collaborator in nearly all the plays with folk roots staged by the Uruguayan actor Domingo Sapelli.

In 1962 he was largely showcased impersonating an old payador (itinerant singer) on the stage of the Teatro Solís in the Justino Zabala Muñiz’s play performed by the Comedia Nacional “Fausto Garay, el caudillo”, a character played with great dignity by the actor Alberto Candeau. Froilán Aguilar used to accompany himself on guitar singing a estilo created by Mrs. María Julia Garayalde de Zabala Muñiz and written by Julio Martínez Oyanguren.

He later retired but while his health allowed him he taught guitar playing and singing, with devotion and enthusiasm, when he lived in the upper floor of a house on San Martín Ave., on the corner of the same and Millán Ave. Hardly fond of self-esteem, only due to a nice friendship we kept with him, we came to know that he could have been one of the guitarists that Carlos Gardel summoned from New York in 1934. An «interference», as he used to say, prevented his journey.

Even though the following is not mentioned on sheet music copies, with his brother José he co-wrote the foxtrot “Manos brujas” and the tango “Al mundo le falta un tornillo”, among others. The publication of the latter prevented the recording of a similar piece belonging exclusively to Froilán Aguilar and entitled “Se cambiaron los papeles”.

With an outward surly, serious appearance, for years we enjoyed his friendship and confidence. Unfairly forgotten, with his regretful passing one of the first Oriental guitars disappeared.

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