Manuel Aróztegui

Real name: Aróztegui, Manuel Gregorio
Pianist and composer
(4 January 1888 - 14 November 1938)
Place of birth:
Montevideo Uruguay
Juan Silbido

e was an Oriental (Uruguayan) born in Montevideo on January 4, 1888. This is the exact date given by his nephew Bernardo, a pianist, who, besides exhibiting documents, stated that the right spelling of the family name is with “z” and not with “s”. As we found a certain generalized confusion about that, we think we have cleared out the issue.

Héctor Bates and Luis Bates (in La Historia del Tango) mention bibliographic references of the composer we are talking about. We include a summary of them:

«He was a little above one year old when he settled in Buenos Aires with his family. He studied up to third degree in grammar school, because he admitted he used to play truant. He carried out varied trades.

«His devotion for music was born after he heard Pacho who, by that time (1905), played at a café placed on Thames and Guayanas (now Niceto Vega).

«In his spare time he devoted himself to learn music: guitar, mandolin and violin. Finally he chose piano; his first lessons were taught by a hatter named Leopoldo, later he continued with Carlos Hernani Macchi.

«In 1912 accompanied by Paulino Facciona (violin) and Manuel Firpo (bandoneon) he appeared at the Café El Maratón (on Canning and Costa Rica). A terrible shooting ended his performances which had been carried out for six months. Probably his bandoneon appealed to belligerent customers.

«El Capuchino, a kind of cinema-barroom was the new scenery, an ambience rather peaceful; there his tenure lasted three years. His first tango composition —“El apache argentino”—, was heard for the first time in 1913 there.»

We have found there is a second tango, also titled “El apache argentino” whose composer is Celestino Reynoso Basavilbaso.

We continue this sketch with the references given by the aforementioned Bernardo Aróztegui.

He showed us the original handwritten sheet music of the tango “El Cachafaz”, dated on October 16, 1913. We verified that it is dedicated to the actor Florencio Parravicini.

About that, the authors Héctor and Luis Bates state the following: «... in 1913, a period in which as well appeared another tango by Aróstegui (sic), “El Cachafaz”, dedicated to the famous dancer Benito Bianquet, widely known by the nickname which helped Manuel to name his tango.»

Let us go back to the narration. Manuel Aróztegui was frequently invited to participate in familiar parties; there he performed real piano concertos for the delight of the attendants.

Those cinema theaters of the age of silent movies had him among the pianists that played the background for the vivid sequences of the films exhibited.

A friend musician, Emilio Lozzia, dedicated to him the tango piece “Manunguito”, and by such nickname his closest friends used to call him affectionately.

On certain occasions he gave music lessons to disciples of both sexes.

Aróztegui committed to paper the music notes of the famous waltz “El aeroplano”, the unforgettable composition by Pedro Datta.

His last work, in collaboration with the poet Luis Rubistein, is titled “Vengan muchachos”, written in 1934 and recorded by the Julio De Caro Orchestra.

Withdrawn from the musical activity, later Aróztegui devoted himself to decoration of toys that he himself peddled.

In 1936, a stroke paralyzed his right arm and leg; his capacity for movement was hindered so he had to use a walking stick.

He died because of a heart attack at his place in the neighborhood of La Paternal (Biarritz 1812).

We have mentioned three titles of his written output, to them we have to add the following: tangos: "Paraná", "Hasta la hacienda baguala", "Don Daniel", "En la rambla", "La gigolette", "Champagne tango", "El granuja", "El jai-leife", and "Más o menos"; waltzes: "El apache argentino" (same title as the tango) and "Confidencia", unpublished and dedicated to his wife Agustina; polkas: "La regalona" and "Amalia"; two-step for piano: "Bon soir"; and the cifra criolla "A mi china".

Published in the book: Evocación del Tango, by Juan Silbido, Buenos Aires, 1964.