Horacio Loriente

oaquín Mauricio Mora was born in Buenos Aires on September 21, 1905. His father was Argentine and his mother was Uruguayan, from Paysandú. He spent his childhood and adolescence near the courtyards of the Palermo studs where his father worked. At age eleven he began to study music with the maestros Antonielli and Romaniello.

In 1916, he entered the Santa Cecilia conservatory where he graduated as professor of piano in 1921. He started further studies with Arturo Luzatti. When he finished them he gave piano recitals at the La Argentina saloon.

When he was eighteen he began to play at dancehalls and parties with unknown anodyne musicians but one year later he became the pianist of the Graciano De Leone Quartet at the La Argentina saloon, precisely the place where he finished his high studies.

Then we come to an event that turned out transcendental in Joaquín Mora's career. After a rehearsal at his place, his friend, the bandoneon player José Fiotti left his instrument there. Out of curiosity Mora was tempted to play some notes and try a passage of the melody of “La cabeza del italiano”, a tango in vogue at that time. With the enthusiasm of having succeeded in it, he bought a bandoneon in stallments and with it was included a method to play it. Soon he would become an excellent bandoneonist. As such he made his debut in the Antonio Bonavena's orchestra in 1928, and by then he wrote his first tango “in association” with José Fiotti, titled “Viejo barrio”.

Later he was member of a trio with Eduardo Pereyra and Alcides Palavecino; with it they worked at a café in Flores. The composer of “El africano” would become strongly influential for him in the creation and interpretation of tango and would definitively choose the romantic trend.

In 1929, Joaquín Mora joined the ranks of the violinist Vicente Fiorentino, alongside the pianist Plácido Simoni Alfaro and Francisco Fiorentino, teaming up in bandoneon with him. He worked hard and then Alberto Cima, who had returned from Europe requested him to join his group, and they appeared at a café of Parque Patricios, already in 1930. That small orchestra was lined-up by his leader and Joaquín Mora on bandoneons, Luis Minelli, on piano and the violinist Luis Cuervo.

Mora is present in the recordings for the Columbia label of the Bonavena Orchestra and the Columbia tango orchestra led by Alberto Castellano. With Bonavena he made a successful series of appearances on Radio Prieto.

Then he composed several tango pieces of extraordinary beauty: “Divina”, with lyrics written in 1934 by Federico Saniez, “Nupcia”, “Leyenda” and “Mi estrella”. Many years after, Joaquín Mora told us about the structure of “Mi estrella”, which is one of his greatest tangos, that a friend musician had told him by then: «Why don't you write tangos like the other authors?».

In the late 1930, alongside Oreste Cúfaro, a pianist that had played with him in the orchestra led by Bonavena, and the violinist Roberto Zerrillo, they backed Azucena Maizani in her trip to Europe. It comprised appearances in Spain, Portugal and part of France. During that tour, while he was in the Spanish city of León, Mora composed his tango “Yo soy aquel muchacho”, that he would polish years later with the violinist Vicente Russo and the lyrics by Máximo Orsi.

Joaquín Mora joined the Irusta-Fugazot-Demare Orchestra in Spain. When he came back to Buenos Aires, nearing the end of 1933, he switched to the Vicente Russo Orchestra that played on Radio Splendid. There, besides completing “Yo soy aquel muchacho”, also in association with the leader of the orchestra he released his tango “Usuhaia”. In the carnival of 1935, when working with the Miguel Caló Orchestra at the dancehalls at the theater of the “Opera”, after a show, he realized that somebody had stolen his bandoneon. This unforeseen circumstance marked a new artistic way to his performances, so he returned definitively to piano, then creating his great style of interpretation.

After the aforementioned event, Joaquín Mora put together his orchestra, but he played with it in few occasions and decided to form a trio with two singers modeled after the style of Irusta-Fugazot-Demare. With that purpose he summoned Antonio Rodríguez Lesende and Héctor Morel (Héctor Cardinale). Morel-Lesende-Mora has remained in the memory of those possessed by nostalgia as an expression of originality and exquisite quality.

Parallely, between 1936 and 1937, he devoted to the accompaniment of male and female singers. His presence is especially showcased alongside Cayetano Puglisi and Ciriaco Ortiz at the appearances of Hugo Del Carril on Radio El Mundo. With other two singers, Héctor Achával and Mario Podestá he headed another trio at programs broadcast by the now disappeared Radio Ultra.

Dr. Luis A. Sierra told us about two events that dates us back to the year 1934. Once in the wee small hours of the morning by his piano in the apartment of José Pascual, Mora took out a small piece of paper from his pocket. On it were written the lyrics that Julio Jorge Nelson had handed to him at the café Los 36 Billares of Corrientes Street. He read them and soon the music notes of “Margarita Gauthier” -one of his greatest hits- would spring up. By that time Alfonso Ortiz Tirado also premiered “Divina”, a romantic piece chosen since then by all the piano and bandoneon tango soloists and singers as well.

We think that it's necessary to mention Joaquín Mauricio Mora's compositions to ponder, at least approximately, the importance of a great composer: “Si volviera Jesús”, with lyrics by Dante A. Linyera (1935); “Esclavo”, “Cofrecito” (waltz) and “En las sombras”, the first two with José María Contursi (1936); “Como aquella princesa” (1937), “Frío” (1938) and “Más allá” (1939) all them with José María Contursi.

Here there are two collaborations with Uruguayan authors: “Canción de junio (Sol de invierno)”, lyrics by Ignacio Domínguez Riera and “Dos banderas (Himno del Río de la Plata)”, with lyrics of the then journalist Onofre Mir, premiered at the Círculo Oriental of Buenos Aires.

In 1941, he wrote the arrangements for an excellent tango group that played on Radio Belgrano, Ebe Bedrune's orchestra, which had come from the city of Rosario. A couple of years after, he began a tour throughout Latin America, and was currently based in Medellín until 1959 and, finally, in Panama. There he would interpret all kind of musical genres, playing piano or organ.

In the late 1978, he returned to Buenos Aires; 35 years have passed. He told to the La Prensa daily paper on December 8, 1978: «I was tired of feeling myself an alien, it became unbearable. So I've come back home». He was already seriously ill and, furthermore, his friends, nearly all of them, had already died, a circumstance that caused him a great pain, so one day, silently, as he had come, he returned to Panama. From there we came to know, through a brief cable, of the news of his demise which took place on August 2, 1979.

We had the privilege of being in correspondence with Joaquín Mauricio Mora for years. He was a polite gentleman and friend, above all. He loved Uruguay very much, «because my mother came from there», he used to tell us.

«The ways of expression of this great tango figure comprise the difficult conjunction of melodic simplicity and suggestive richness of an original harmonic embellishment that defines and characterizes the compositional labor of one of the most admirable tango artists». These are the precise, admirable concepts written by the magisterial pen of Luis Sierra in a work he dedicated to us.

Originally published in Ochenta notas de tango. Perfiles biográficos, Ediciones de La Plaza, Montevideo 1998. Under the auspices of the Academia de Tango from Uruguay.