Alfredo Bevilacqua

Real name: Bevilacqua, Alfredo Antonio
Pianist, composer and leader
(20 February 1874 - 1 July 1942)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Salvador Lo Nigro

he biographical notes about musicians composers are, maybe, stereotyped by the way in which the information about the life of these archetypes, that brought us this melodic music which we call tango, is given.

To speak of Don Alfredo is to remember one of the greatest names of the Guardia Vieja, today unfortunately forgotten, but we that love the authentic tango of yesterdays, cannot underestimate those values that now are the true history of the one and only music of Buenos Aires.

Bevilacqua was born in our city, in the neighborhood of Belgrano, but in fact, he was born on a train when his mother was traveling from Retiro to Olivos, on the railway that was then called Ferro Carril del Norte. It was on February 20, 1874.

He spent his child life like all the proletarian kids of that time. Yes, at age 14 he started his daily struggle to earn his living. He worked at a wood depot, but he also had an inclination for music and his piano teachers were Ángel Ratti and Brunetti Abnicari.

Bevilacqua had a musical intuition and a superior spirit. His soul was full of feelings connected with his great love for the land and, based on that, he created a music repertoire unparalleled in tango.

He wrote his first tango in 1902: “Venus”, and it was a musical apotheosis, because after this piece Don Alfredo followed a path that led him to a great success. This composition was recorded by a group led by Bevilacqua and committed to disc by that system with cylinders.

We as well admire the printed sheet music of the tango “Venus”, dedicated to «my friend Amadeo Bonetti». When we look at the cover we see a drawing and the title: «Venus, brilliant tango for piano, published by Casa Ortelli Hnos., Belgrano 2947, Bs. As.» Let us think of the art of the draftsman. It seems paradoxical that at that time everything was -including the graphic art- in the service of tango feeling, and of course, of the realism of the watercolors that portrayed the city.

Bevilacqua worked as piano player at various music centers, especially at the theater located in the capital Pasatiempo and also at the dancehall run by MaríaLa vasca, a notorious venue frequented by the tough guys of Buenos Aires.

In 1910, centennial of the Revolution of May, he premiered his tango “Independencia” with a music band. That was the year of greatest success for Don Alfredo because when Isabel of Bourbon visited us he gave her a copy of the sheet music of the abovementioned tango, as a testimony of recognition of the Argentines towards Spain.

As well Bevilacqua offered to the Chilean minister Cruchaga Tocornal the tango “Emancipación”, dedicated to the Republic of Chile. So was maestro Bevilacqua, he dedicated his best pieces to declare the greatness of tango to other countries.

He was composer of many tangos: “Apolo”. He published it in 1903 and was recorded by the Victor band in 1905; in 1906 he released “Minguito”, a beautiful tango and, as corollary of his career as composer he dedicated to the jockey Torterolo the tango “La gran muñeca”. He wrote as well: “Recuerdos de La Pampa”, “Cabo cuarto”, “El fogón”, “Bar El Popular”, “Marconi”, “Primer junta”, “Expresión criolla”, “El orillero”, “Reconquista”, among others. His last work was “Brisas del sur” in 1933.

Most them were recorded by rondallas (a kind of brass band) and tango groups around 1910. For example: Juan Maglio, (Pacho) recorded several of his compositions.

In his latter years he worked as tuner of musical instruments.

Alfredo Bevilacqua won't ever be forgotten by the Argentine and Uruguayan tango fans. His figure had an outstanding worth, the was the maker of our popular folk city art. He died on July 1, 1942. His demise took place at the Hospital Italiano of Buenos Aires and, from these pages we tell you: Don Alfredo, we'll never forget you, because you belong to the history of tango.

Excerpted from Cuadernos de difusión del tango, Nº 9, directed and published by Salvador Arancio.