Pedro Laurenz

Real name: Blanco Acosta, Pedro
Bandoneon player, director and composer
(10 October 1902 - 7 July 1972)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Julio Nudler

great tango personality, basically as bandoneon player and composer. Relatively less though still significant was his influence as orchestra director. He was a bandoneon player of great techniques, skilful with both hands (high and low-pitches), superb in sound, energetic in performances and vehement in phrases. He was the founder of a performance school. He composed outstanding tangos and wrote exquisite variations for pieces such as “Mala junta” and “Mal de amores”. The climax of his trajectory came between the mid-20s and mid-40s.

Born in the rapidly growing Buenos Aires at the beginning of the century, he spent his childhood in Villa Crespo neighborhood where co-existed, in colorful social contrast, native compadritos and malevos (tough people) and Spanish, Italian, Jewish, Arab and Turkish immigrants. It is here where famous conventillos (* Popular houses, generally one or two story, with several rooms and common sanitary facilities, interior yards, rented by people who lived all together in little space and poor conditions.) such as the mythical La Paloma flourished.

Still a child, he took violin classes but at the age of fifteen, while living in Montevideo, he took up the bandoneon, urged by his brothers Félix and Eustaquio. His first outstanding performances were with the today forgotten orchestra directed by the pianist Luis Casanovas in which also played, standing at his back, two violinists who would then become famous: Edgardo Donato (the composer of “A media luz”) and Roberto Zerrillo. He also played for the orchestra of the bandoneon player Eduardo Arolas —for some, the greatest composer ever given by the tango— at the cabaret Moulin Rouge.

Back in Buenos Aires in 1920 he joined the orchestra of the pianist Roberto Goyheneche, with whom he performed at the inauguration of Radio Cultura in December 1922. It is here where his first tango “El rebelde” —which would then fall to oblivion— was first made known.

A major step in his career was his participation, in 1925, in the sextet of the violinist Julio De Caro who was then introducing revolutionary changes in the tango style. Replacing Luis Petrucelli was a real threat for Laurenz since that meant to play by the side of the bandoneon player of whom he was a devoted admirer —the grim Pedro Maffia— a man of calm mood, unlike Laurenz'. That same year, the Maffia-Laurenz duo —probably the most remarkable in the tango history— would record —just the two of them— their first two records with the Víctor company, including the tangos “Julián”, “Buen amigo”, and “Sonsa”, and the foxtrot “Titina [b]”. In 1926, as a result of disagreements within the group, Maffia left and thus Laurenz became the first bandoneon player.

He was backed by Armando Blasco, a performer as short-sighted as marvelous. After those prominent times with De Caro, of which the record is an evidence, Laurenz formed his own orchestra in 1934, as though envisaging that the instrumental tango needed a new style. He took Blasco with him and initially entrusted the piano to another De Caro follower, the today revered Osvaldo Pugliese, an artist of a renewing spirit. In 1937 he started recording for the Víctor company, and his version of “Arrabal” by the pianist José Pascual, is considered by some scholars, as the hinge of the newly born golden epoch of the tango which would reach the top in the 40s.

His production with the Victor company until 1943 included 15 -78 RPM records, and then a similar number with Odeon between 1943 and 1947. Then he would record with Pampa and Microfón companies. Though he had reputable singers such as Juan Carlos Casas, Carlos Bermúdez or Jorge Linares, none of them —except for Alberto Podestá— would be much popular. This restricted the success of his orchestra.

As from 1960, Laurenz formed part of the famous Quinteto Real a group of great soloists, such as Horacio Salgán (piano), Enrique Francini (violin), Ubaldo De Lío (guitar) and Rafael Ferro (double bass). They recorded for Phillips and Columbia, in an attempt to make tango re-flourish with a bold renewal in rhythm. The Quinteto Real still exists but the only who remain from its original stars are Salgán and De Lío.

As a composer —one of the greatest in the tango history— his work mingled with those of Pedro Maffia and the brothers Julio and Francisco De Caro but then it flew on his own. Among his best compositions, now classic tangos, are “Mala junta” and “Orgullo criollo” (both with the cooperation of Julio De Caro); “Amurado” (with Maffia); “Risa loca”, “Berretín”, “Milonga de mis amores”, “La revancha”, “Mal de amores”, and “Esquinero”. He also composed the music of several famous tangos known by their lyrics “De puro guapo [b]”, “Como dos extraños”, “Es mejor perdonar” and “Vieja amiga”.