Juan Carlos Miranda

Real name: Sciorra, Rafael Miguel
(23 July 1917 - 8 July 1999)
Place of birth:
Chivilcoy (Buenos Aires) Argentina
Néstor Pinsón

t was 1991, somebody introduced him to me and time later I saw him again. It was in his working place, at the Escuela Técnica (Technical School), a branch of the Army located on Cabildo Avenue. There he worked as barber. Several generations of soldiers and non-commissioned officers had known about his scissors.

A few years before he still sang in the neighborhood of La Paternal in an old club located on Fragata Sarmiento Street and San Martín Avenue when his retirement was near.

Some of his photographs, taken in the forties, had nothing to do with the present time. The features of that young handsome boy had completely disappeared. Some kind of pathology had spoiled his legs and he had to make an effort to walk with a cane.

It was by that time that I invited him to my program Siempre el tango (Always tango) on Radio Municipal. It took place in the early months of 1992, on occasion of celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the premiere of the tango “Malena”. When the time came he left his cane, stood up and, holding the back of a chair, he began to sing it. The one who had been a delicate tenor was now a baritone singer. But he did it with all his feeling and with an effort.

Later he recalled that he had premiered it at the cabaret Novelty on Esmeralda 473 and that at the same local, sharing a table with its authors, he witnessed the final strokes they made to complete the piece.

Miranda recorded “Malena” —after Troilo with Fiorentino had waxed it—, on January 23, 1942. The sheet music was published by Editorial Julio Korn on January 27. AzucenaMaizani recorded it on March 13. He was the first one in singing it but not the first one in committing it to disc.

On April 29, at the Broadway cinema-theater, Lucas Demare's film El Viejo Hucha was premiered. The music score was written by his brother Lucio and the script —based on a theater play—, was adapted by Ulises Petit de Murat and Homero Manzi. In the movie, one of the siblings of a family dreams of composing a tango. It comes true and he himself sings it at a cafe for the first time. The role is played by the actor Osvaldo Miranda but when he sings, his voice is dubbed by Miranda. At that time a number of the moviegoers was mistaken and didn't think of a dubbing. Even some media guessed that actor and singer were brothers. But Osvaldo, born in 1915, was in fact named Osvaldo Isaías Mathón and was nephew of the renowned payador (itinerant singer) Arturo A. Mathón.

The beginnings of our character were in his hometown: Chivilcoy, where he had some musical instruction, learned his craft and sang at some reunions with the strange nickname of Red Bird. But his desire was to arrive in the great city, which happened in 1935. For several years he lived in the neighborhood of Boedo.

Like so many boys that hoped to be artists, he entered the academy of the Rubistein brothers on Callao 420, where he had the opportunity that his voice was aired on a couple of radio stations.

The well-remembered actor and humorist Fidel Pintos was a post-office employee who, after his job hours, he and his wife worked as porters in the building where the academy was located and where they also lived. As he had some knowledge of music and he clumsily played piano, out of friendship he helped many times in the classes and he knew much of what happened there; he even examined the applicants. So when he knew that Demare was looking for a singer for his recently formed orchestra, he recommended Sciorra who had just won a contest on Radio Splendid.

Lucio auditioned him three times before accepting him, one of them was before Francisco Canaro and Roberto Fugazot. He passed the exam and immediately, on June 13, 1938 he recorded the tango “Telón” and “Din Don”. The latter was written by Alberto Suárez Villanueva and Evaristo Frattantoni.

By the end of that year Demare teamed up with Elvino Vardaro and the singer followed him. There are no recordings of this aggregation. In 1941 again alone Demare started up and didn't stop until June 1945. But the singer stayed with him until December ´42, committing to record 12 more numbers. I highlight, because these are the ones I like most, besides “Malena”: “Al compás de un tango”, “Mañana zarpa un barco”, “Nunca supe por qué”, “Milonga en rojo”, “No te apures Carablanca”, “Sorbos amargos” and “Pa' mí es igual”.

Although the orchestra was excellent, it was not among the most popular ones, nevertheless it was his most important artistic stage.

Without knowing the causes one may wonder what reason existed for not being required by other groups. Maybe, simply, he tried to be independent, or to look for new airs. But in fact the history of tango will only take him into account for his career with Demare. This orchestra leader imposed a delicate and warm style that matched, in like manner, with that of the singer.

With the passing of time as he didn't find the direction towards his goal, he slowly was disappearing of the spotlight. He was with Ciriaco Ortiz, later with Antonio Arcieri. In 1944 he appeared on radio, performed at locals, made short tours and recorded two unknown numbers as homage to the Colonia Mi Esperanza for the sick of leprosy: the march “Mi esperanza”, duo with Alberto Ayerza, and the tango “Soldadito ausente”.

In 1945 he recorded in Buenos Aires with Jorge Huirse's orchestra for the Odeon label, but to be released in Peru. He appeared in Montevideo, also with an orchestra from Mendoza in Chile, he returned to the Novelty when he was called to be part of the ephemeral Orquesta Argentina comprised by the musicians that had split with Osvaldo Fresedo. He switched to Campos-Calabró in 1948. When Calabró retired he continued along with Enrique Campos without changing his routine. The remainder were «stints» to get some bucks and some work on the radio.

For those interested in discographies it is necessary to add some recordings that possibly have not been commercially released, with the Francisco Grillo's group: the waltz “Tus manos” and “Romance popular”. And with the Amadeo Raffo's outfit, two numbers: the tangos “Mi calendario” and “Mírame”.

This is the simple and short artistic story of the one who premiered “Malena” and was the first singer of the Lucio Demare's initial orchestra. These are enough merits for keeping him into account and for paying attention to his sound legacy.