Enrique Maroni

Real name: Maroni, Enrique Pedro
Lyricist, journalist and theater author
(17 March 1887 - 30 December 1957)
Place of birth:
Bragado (Buenos Aires) Argentina
Néstor Pinsón

he Uruguayan researcher Horacio Loriente tells us: «He frankly told me that the lyric of “La cumparsita (Si supieras)” was entirely Contursi’s, but it bears also his name because both them had written the sainete (one-act farce) in which it was premiered».

The idea was born for the play Un Programa de Cabaret, premiered at the Teatro Apolo on June 6, 1924, by the company of the actor and director Leopoldo Simari. The reviews appeared on papers were not favorable, although the critique published by La Nación was rather benevolent. Here’s an excerpt of it: «...its authors develop in this play a plot that does not exceed the limits of the vulgar simplicity, very common in the releases of the genre, but they had managed to communicate grace and interest to the scenes, compensating with that the insistence on the central motif of the play».

Marambio Catán who attended its performance commented in his book of memoirs that Juan Ferrari, who premiered “La cumparsita” with lyrics, was a capable singer with a long career in popular song. He was Uruguayan and was unjustly forgotten. When he quit the play he was replaced, until the end of the season, by a singer of the city of La Plata, capital of the province of Buenos Aires: Carlos Carranza.

La cumparsita”, after its premiere and the immediate recordings by Roberto Firpo, Alonso-Minotto and Juan Maglio, by the time of the sainete’s premiere, did not reach an outstanding place, it was only one more tango. But the circumstance of having a lyric and having been committed to wax by Carlos Gardel that year, brought such a repercussion that no one will deny that it has become the most representative tango of all times.

But the thing is that Maroni, one of the authors, confessed he wasn’t. Despite it we think that he had to face all the lawsuits that since then arose. The lyric was added to the music without authorization of its composer Gerardo Matos Rodríguez, who besides writing another lyric in 1926, forced the publisher to release his with the original music and filed a legal action that only in 1948 reached a final judgment. For Matos Rodríguez corresponded 80% of the royalties and the remaining 20% for Contursi and Maroni.

Maroni had already written a little play in his town of Bragado, province of Buenos Aires, and was premiered there in 1912 by the César Ratti’s company, a juvenile error entitled Los Bohemios de Bragado. Except for Un Programa de Cabaret, already mentioned, he did not write any transcendental play. A common circumstance in the so-called género chico, with thousands of plays written by an infinity of authors. Very few of them survived, no more than a dozen.

For tango he wrote a hundred lyrics. Gardel committed to record twelve of them: the tangos “Callecita de mi barrio”, “Cicatrices”, “Compañero”, “Chola”, “La borrachera del tango”, “Micifuz”, “Virgencita de Pompeya (Medallita de los pobres)”, “La cumparsita (Si supieras)”, the foxtrot “La hija de japonesita”, the zambas “La salteñita”, “Machaza mi suerte”, the waltz “Rosal de amor” and the milonga “Tortazos”. And, to mention some more numbers, the ones recorded by Ignacio Corsini: the estilos “Beso de sol”, “Tradición gaucha”, the tangos “El poncho del olvido”, “Entre sombras”, “Fruto bendito”, “Hipólito Yrigoyen”, “La carreta [b]”, “La querencia”, “Llanto de madre [b]”, the waltzes “Cobardía [b]” and “Por una mujer”.

He as well wrote poetry and his three books that collected many of his simple poems attest it: La Humilde Cosecha, 1929; Arreando Ensueños, 1931; and Camino de Violetas, 1932. The first one is, surely, his best remembered work, so much so that in certain cases, his “Apología del tango”, has become a tag every time we talk about tango.

On the compact disc Siempre el Tango en el Disco. Programa Nº 2, that we released with Héctor Lucci, we include its recording made in 1933. It is said by the author himself, with no great emphasis, surely because this was not his craft and because Maroni, in his working life was, mainly, journalist and radio speaker. He carried out these occupations evenly. He started almost at the dawn of the radio, in 1924. Thirteen years later a readers' poll organized by the magazine Radiolandia established that he was the choice of the majority. He was then known as The Radio Speaker Number One.

Ricardo Gallo, in the second volume of his book Este Mundo Tan Sonoro, comments about it: «...he was consecrated as the figure that brings news to the radio with his morning program, with anecdotes, stories, music and poems of his own. But the main thing was his reading the La Prensa paper on LR4 Radio Splendid. In the evening, at 7 pm, the program is aired directly from the paper editor's office, he announces the most important news of the day and the news that will appear in La Prensa the next day. Even though there was an agreement between radio and newspaper, a conflict was caused by the editors. The latter wanted the evening news to be cancelled or delayed because they thought it may result in a decrease of the sales. Maroni went on with his task, but in the evening program he repeated what he had said in the morning, without announcing what had happened recently».

He was noted for his slow way of talking and his clear diction. Probably now someone may remember him. But everybody that has to do with tango some time said or, at least, listened to the first lines of his most everlasting creation, “Apología del tango”: «Tango que me hiciste mal / y sin embargo te quiero / porque sos el mensajero / del alma del arrabal...» (Tango that made me no good to me/ and however I love you / because you're the messenger / of the outskirts' soul...)

Director's note:
We have received an e-mail message from Lorenna Hanssen, Enrique Maroni's great granddaughter, in which she says that she is in disagreement with what Horacio Loriente said in the first paragraph of the above note.

In her message she says: «I attest that “La cumparsita” was written line after line by both of them. And being deeply acquainted with my great grandfather's literary oeuvre, you can even say which parts he wrote and which ones his friend Contursi did».

We have published this interesting opinion as a gesture of equanimity towards the poet and his family.