Héctor Negro

Real name: Varela, Ismael Héctor
Poet and lyricist
(27 March 1934 - 15 September 2015)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
José Gobello

e is one of the most important poets of his generation and one of the few in whose works the ideological element does not adulterate poetry.

Negro founded, in 1955, the Grupo de Poesía El Pan Duro (Stale Bread Poetry Group); he has published the poem collections: Bandoneón de papel (1957), Luz de todos (1965) and Para cantarle a mi gente (1971) and his writings often appeared in periodicals and literary magazines.

The tango work by Negro comprehends a large number of pieces, among them, “Esta ciudad” (music by Osvaldo Avena), which was awarded, in 1967, the first prize at the contest of city music sponsored by the Odol company. “Un lobo más”, belongs to the theatrical piece “Tres días con gerente”, by Julio César Silvain, presented by the Teatro Impulso in 1966 (it was sung then by Benigno Matos, actor at that theater cast). To the same play two other tangos by Negro ang Avena belong: “Responso para un hombre gris” and “Un mundo nuevo”.

«Negro refutes, sometimes, my arguments about incompatibility between tango and poetry and about the symbiosis: lyrics-music. I think that when someone is capable of writing the lyrics of “Milonga para el domingo”, or diving into the restrained surrealism of “Trasnochero”, or stating his profession of faith as in “Es cuestión de creer” or launching an electoral platform —the only one that counts, the one that we present to our own life— as in “Quiero elegir mi vida”, there is a right to emancipate those things from the tutelage of the music staff and send them to fight for themselves somewhere, because they won't come back to the door that was opened with the treble clef without its own bunch of laurels». (words said by José Gobello when introducing Para cantarle a mi gente, in November 1971).

With the passing of time, the poet has enriched his sensitivity and refined his expression. Together with Horacio Ferrer and Eladia Blázquez he means the major stage in the creation of the Buenos Aires song on the eve of the new century.

Other remarkable lyrics of his are: “Viejo Tortoni”, which was premiered by Osvaldo Arana at the cellar of the Café Tortoni in December 1979. It has several recordings, among them, the ones by Susana Rinaldi, by Eladia Blázquez and the one by Rubén Juárez; “Bien de abajo” is previous, from 1967. That year the Osvaldo Pugliese orchestra with the singer Abel Córdoba premiered and recorded it; “Esta ciudad”, is from that same year, when, sung by Reynaldo Martín, was awarded the Primer Premio de Música Ciudadana at the Festival Odol de la Canción. It has several recordings, among them, the one by Osvaldo Pugliese with the vocalist Jorge Maciel and a pleasant rendition by Walter Yonsky. Finally, the widely known “Tiempo de tranvías” which dates back to 1979 and which among other recordings was benefited by the one by Rubén Juárez and the one by Osvaldo Pugliese, again with Abel Córdoba on vocals.

The lines that Héctor Negro has written and goes on writing for tango, even when the author adopts the humble attitude of lyricist, always show us the fine thread of the poet.

Published in Tangos, letras y letristas, Ed. Plus Ultra, Buenos Aires 1994.

Director's note: Sacri Delfino and Alejandro Szwarcman dedicated a tango to our friend Hector Negro, titled “Tango en Negro”.