Genaro Espósito

Real name: Espósito, Genaro Ricardo
Nicknames: El Tano Genaro
Bandoneonist, guitarist, pianist, composer and leader
(17 February 1886 - 24 January 1944)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Jorge Palacio (Faruk)

his outstanding musician, pioneer among those who put together the early tango orchestras, was born in the neighborhood of San Telmo of the city of Buenos Aires. Like his fellow bandoneon players, he learnt to play it by ear with the maestro Antonio Solari, one of the early discoverers of that instrument and pioneer in its teaching. Also by ear he learnt to play piano and guitar. Only when he traveled to Europe, in 1920, he had formal musical instruction.

El Tano Genaro, when he still did not have a solid musical knowledge, was teacher of two great bandoneonists: Anselmo Aieta and Ricardo Brignolo.

«El Tano Genaro represents the awakening of the left hand in the old stream bandoneon players, together with The German (El Alemán) Bernstein, who had an outstanding mastery with both hands», Oscar Zucchi tells us in his book El Tango. El Bandoneón y sus Intérpretes.

His first outfit, with the violinist Federico Lafemina and the guitarist Torres, dates back to 1908, and he put it together to play at local meetings.

Two years later, he made his debut at the Café La Marina, on Suárez and Necochea at the picturesque neighborhood of La Boca, joining a trio with a violin played by Agustín Bardi —El Chino—, and the guitar player José Camarano —El Tuerto—.

In 1911, he switched to a café of San Telmo, replacing Bardi by Enrique Muñecas. With the same musicians he played at La Buseca of Avellaneda (a suburb of Buenos Aires), to return to La Marina in 1912, this time with Alcides Palavecino on violín and Harold Philips on piano.

That same year he was hired by the Victor label to record with a group comprised of bandoneon, violin, guitar and clarinet, under the name of Orquesta Típica Gennaro Espósito, the names of the members are unknown.

His first recording was Julián Robledo’s tango “Ya vengo”. On the other side of the disc, # 63712: the waltz “Las violetas”, also first recording, by Ignacio Corsini.

He continued his recording labor on the Columbia Record, ERA and Atlanta labels. For Columbia he recorded with Tito Rocatagliatta on violin and Roberto Firpo on piano; for ERA he recorded with Julio Doutry (violin), José Fuster (flute) and José Camarano (guitar); and for Atlanta with Pedro Vicente Festa (violin), Echeverri (flute) and again, Camarano.

Frequently substituting players, he appeared at the Palais de Glace with Vicente Pepe on violin, Vicente Pecci on flute and Guillermo Saborido on guitar. Later, to play at cafés in La Boca, he summoned Ernesto Zambonini (violin) and Juan Carlos Cobián (piano).

After making a successful tour of the provinces of Córdoba and Tucumán, he came back in 1918 to Buenos Aires to play at the Roma Theater, with his brother Carlitos as second bandoneon, Alcides Palavecino on violin and Vicente Gorrese —Kalisay—, on piano. With them and with other members he recorded for the Telephone label his last six recordings in Argentina.

In 1919, he joined the orchestra led by Eduardo Arolas in the city of Montevideo and became an attraction at the café Zunino of that city. These were his last performances in South America.

The key year in Tano Genaro’s career was 1920, because he traveled to Marseilles, on a freight ship, together with the bandoneonist Manuel Pizarro and the French violinist Victor Jachia. El Tano and Pizarro arrived at the French harbor on August 6 in that year, but only them, because Jachia died during the voyage.

After a short stay in Marseilles, they traveled to Paris, in 1921, where the Genaro-Pizarro orchestra was hired to play at the Fontaine and Pavillon Dauphine dancings, it was lined-up by the musicians Güerino Filipotto and Celestino Ferrer, the remaining members were French. The group disbanded when Pizarro returned to Buenos Aires for a season in 1922.

Genaro Espósito went on playing in Europa with mucho success until the outbreak of World War II in 1939, with his Orchestre Argentine Genaro Espósito, appearing at venues of international fame like El Garrón, Le Parroquete and at the foyer of the Casino de Paris.

As well he recorded discs in France, for the labels Columbia (between 1924 and 1927), Fotosonor (1931), Decca (1935), M.A.X.S.A. and Gramophone (1931).

His work as author is big. We find among his most representative tangos: “La percanta”, “Receta médica”, “Bijou”, “La montura”, “Eulogia (Los de la banda)”, “Manuel Lema”, “Juan José”, “Mon petit Claude”, “El crack Larrea”, “Pare la música”, “El goruta”, “Don Machado”, “La Cubanita”, “El manantial”, “Conflicto”, “La pelada” and “Mi negra”. The waltzes: “Pienso en ti sin cesar”, “Amor desesperado”, “La flor del pago”, among others and the polka “La cantinera”.

He died in Paris, during the war conflict. «He was, undoubtedly», says Zucchi, «one of the greatest propellers of tango in Europe... to whom we owe, to a great extent, the blossoming of tango in the Old Continent».