Osvaldo Fresedo

Real name: Fresedo, Osvaldo Nicolás
Nicknames: El Pibe de La Paternal
Bandoneonist, director and composer.
(5 May 1897 - 18 November 1984)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Julio Nudler

orn in Buenos Aires to a wealthy family seems to have influenced his art: his orchestra, refined and aristocratic, was the favorite of upper circles. However, despite Osvaldo's father was a rich businessman, at the age of ten, his family moved to La Paternal, a neighborhood somewhat away and humble, with flat houses in a popular surrounding which had its effect on his destiny. It was there where he started playing the bandoneon. His was the longest tango career ever found: over 1,250 recordings along 63 years.

In 1913, he started public performances as member of a trio of youngsters, in which his brother Emilio played the violin and a third member, the guitar. In addition to entertaining local parties, they played at Café Paulin. After performing in other cafés in the neighborhood, he began to be known as , El Pibe de La Paternal, (The kid from La Paternal) as opposed to the other bandoneon player, Pedro Maffia, known as El pibe de Flores (The kid from Flores), another not too distant area of Buenos Aires. However, as player Fresedo was not rival for Maffia.

Then, he performed at Montmartre cabaret, invited by his friend Eduardo Arolas, and then at the Royal Pigall, at the request of Roberto Firpo. In the 20s Arolas and Firpo were already two major tango figures as instrumentalists, directors and composers. In 1916, Fresedo jointly with Vicente Loduca formed a bandoneon duet which would be remembered forever, recording in 1917 for the Victor company. One of such recordings was the tango “Amoníaco”, an early work of his.

Later on, he formed a trio with the pianist Juan Carlos Cobián and the violinist Tito Roccatagliata. The coming together of Fresedo and Cobián (who would become famous as composer of “Los mareados”, “Nostalgias”, among others) was decisive for the tango orchestra evolution in the 20s. The refined taste, legatos, soft nuances and fancy piano solos were targeted to the upper class ears, though embodying the deep arrabal message of the suburbs, always present in Fresedo's art.

Also in 1917, he would record as player, for Telephone recording company, in the orchestra directed by Roberto Firpo and Francisco Canaro, previously organized to entertain carnival balls in Rosario, the second largest city in Argentina, on the Paraná river. The following year, Fresedo organizes his first group formed, among others, by the pianist José María Rizzuti (composer of “Cenizas”) and the violinist Julio De Caro, that, six years later, already a sextet, would change the genre completely (composing, in homage to Fresedo, the homonymous tango). Fresedo's performances at Casino Pigall were so successful that his orchestra became the most fashionable.

In 1921, hired by the Víctor company, he traveled to the United States along with the pianist Enrique Delfino (who would be the architect of the romance tango) and the violinist Tito Roccatagliata to join, with other musicians, the Orquesta Típica Select which recorded about fifty themes. Back in Buenos Aires, Fresedo reassembled his sextet, this time entrusting the piano to Cobián. Nobody like them to set up the tango in Buenos Aires aristocratic ball rooms.

Between 1922 and 1925, he continued recording for Victor and later on, with Odeon, he played a historic role: he joined Carlos Gardel in two recordings: the tangos “Perdón, viejita” (by Fresedo himself) and “Fea”. The recording system was still acoustic. In 1927, Fresedo's success was such that he kept five orchestras performing at the same time, the main of them at Tabaris cabaret, along Corrientes street, the most important street in the city. Thus he had to go from one location to the other at least to show himself at each place where one of his orchestras was performing. One of these orchestras, which played in silent movies at Fénix cinema-theater in Flores neighborhood, was directed, from the piano, by Carlos Di Sarli who would become a director at least as successful as Fresedo and clearly influenced by him.

Fresedo dared to introduce new timbres and colors in tango, such as the harp and vibraphone, and to make a discreet use of drums. He also selected his singers carefully to match the refinement of his orchestral style. In his long career worth mentioning are the vocalists Roberto Ray, Ricardo Ruiz, Oscar Serpa, Osvaldo Cordó, Armando Garrido and Héctor Pacheco. He also relied on talented musicians who, with their instruments or arrangements, contributed quality to the band, such as the pianist Emilio Barbato and the bandoneon players Roberto Pérez Prechi and Roberto Pansera. Fresedo's repertoire was also enhanced with the works written by them, not usually found in other repertoires.

As a composer, Fresedo was both productive and successful, but in general superficial. His most famous tango is the melodious “Vida mía” but also renowned were “Pimienta”, “Arrabalero”, “Tango mío”, “El once (A divertirse)”, “El espiante”, the beautiful “Aromas”, “Volverás”, “Sollozos”, “Siempre es carnaval”, “Ronda de ases”, “De academia”, “Por qué”, and “Si de mi te has olvidado”.