Néstor Pinsón

t is possible that Maruja Pacheco Huergo may have been reluctant to notes in journals or interviews, but in fact very little has been written about her and it was short and reiterative. All have emphasized her manifold qualities, she was a pianist, composer, lyricist, singer, writer of scripts for radio and television, music teacher and singing instructor, poetess, actress and reciter. In sum, there is no doubt that she knew how to earn her money working in what she liked.

Because of all this it turned out very difficult to establish in what section of Todo Tango we had to include her. Finally because of the importance of her great composition “El adiós” we chose her profession as musician.

She was no intuitive composer, she studied at the Williams conservatory where she graduated as pianist. She recorded over 600 songs of different rhythms, among them, some tangos. But among all the pieces of her oeuvre, the tango “El adiós” was the one which made her well-known, this creation overshadowed all the others.

Among her other compositions we shall mention those committed to record. “Don Naides”, with lyrics by Venancio Clauso, recorded by Florindo Sassone with Rodolfo Galé on vocals. With music and lyrics written by her: “Sinfonía de arrabal”, recorded by Lita Morales, Horacio Lagos and Romeo Gavioli as vocal trio with the Edgardo Donato Orchestra and “Cuando silba el viento”, a habanera that Mercedes Simone recorded. With lyrics by her husband, Manuel Ferradás Campos, she composed “Gardenias” that in 1968 Juan D'Arienzo recorded with Osvaldo Ramos on vocals. She also musicalized a lyric by Homero Manzi, “Canto de ausencia”.

With music by Edgardo Donato she wrote the lyrics of “Alas rotas”, “Para qué [b]”, “Lágrimas [b]”, recorded with Horacio Lagos on vocals and “Triqui tra”, recorded by Lita Morales.

As female singer, she was a very popular figure on radio, so much so that, in 1938, in a poll made to choose Miss Radio she got over thirty-thousand votes.

She started on Radio Prieto appearing in musical comedies created and directed by Roberto Gil, the emcee that invented the phrase «Calle Corrientes, la calle que nunca duerme» (The street that never sleeps). She as well appeared on Radio Fénix, Municipal and, for 18 years, on Radio Belgrano.

She was introduced to the radio by a friend of hers, a soprano named Nelly Quel. The latter was a female singer who performed in some theater comedies and was the protagonist of an unfortunate debut in the movies.

Enrique Cadícamo says that he was asked to write a script for a film that he himself was to direct, but this latter task finally was assigned to the journalist and lunfardo specialist Carlos de la Púa (El Malevo Muñoz). The title was Galeria de esperanzas, in 1934, the protagonists were the singer Luis Díaz —a short man— and Nelly Quel, who was much taller than he was. After the shooting the director realized that in a scene where they appeared together, the difference in stature was quite noticeable. So he decided to shot a sequence which featured two guitarists and added on the soundtrack the following phrase that one of them says to the other: «Look at the giraffe and its offspring!» The day of the premiere the actors came to know of such subtlety, and the laughs were still heard when the actress, disturbed, fled from her balcony. Despite this she returned to the movies the following year with the film Virgencita de Pompeya.

Maruja’s career in tango was short, she abandoned it soon. Once she said it was difficult for her, that she was not comfortable in the genre. Because of that she chose an international repertoire and she was warmly praised by her public.

She recorded several times as soloist and was very successful in another of her facets, music for children. In the early fifties two albums titled Juguetes musicales were released, each one with three 78 rpm discs, with children songs composed and performed by her.

She also composed twelve songs based on the Old Testament, which she reunited under the title Little Musical Bible. I think they were never published.

She wrote music scores for motion pictures and she appeared in small roles in, at least, two films: Ronda de estrellas, directed by Jack Davison, with script by Enrique Delfino and Héctor Bates, premiered on August 3, 1938 and El gran camarada, premiered on January 11, 1939, directed by Yago Blas. In the latter movie she appeared along with the young Juan José Piñeyro, who would become a popular television announcer in the fifties.

Several books with her poems were published, we remember three of them: Tarde de lluvia, El silencio and La cuna iluminada.

Maruja's husband was Manuel Enrique Ferradás Campos, born in Formosa on August 8, 1913. He was a journalist who wrote about theater and sports. He ventured into radio and, time later, was director of several publications, among them, Antena and Radiofilm. He was playwright of radio soap operas and tango lyricist. He was member of the board of the Asociación de Periodistas de la Televisión y Radiofonía Argentinas (Association of Argentine Television and Radio Journalists) when in 1958 the award to the best radio and TV programs was created. He suggested the award would be called Martín Fierro, since then, it is the most important award in that media.

El adiós” was premiered by Corsini, who recorded it on March 15, 1938. A few days later Edgardo Donato did the same with Horacio Lagos on vocals. Later came numerous renditions of famous artists: Francisco Canaro with the vocalist Roberto Maida, Roberto Quiroga with Alberto Di Maggio, Hugo Del Carril with the Tito Ribero's orchestra, Ángel Vargas with Armando Lacava, Osvaldo Pugliese with Jorge Maciel and by Rubén Juárez with Armando Pontier.

In an interview that José Barcia had with Maruja, she says how that memorable melody was born: «It happened in the wee small hours of the morning in a spring, around two a.m., I was in the living room of my house with my mother who was then knitting. I was improvising on the keyboard of my piano and, all of a sudden, she told me: «I like it, polish that idea». And I did it. Mom told me then: «It is quite touching, it would be nice if Corsini may hear it». A few days later, when Corsini heard it for the third time, he began to sing it in perfect intonation. He suggested to introduce me to a poet, a friend of his, so that he would write the lyric. So he came back with Virgilio San Clemente, who after hearing the first bars was soon inspired and, on the same lead sheet he wrote: «En la tarde que en sombras se moría, buenamente nos dimos el adiós...»