Bruno Cespi
| Néstor Pinsón

Aviation in tango

hen by the end of the nineteen century tango begins to have its definitive shape, it is so big the fervor it causes to people, whether in the suburbs or in the wealthy classes that nobody with musical knowledge —simple amateurs, professionals and even household women – refrained from composing a tango. As for only those that have been published, there are so many titles that when having a look at a good portion of them we observe that nearly all the subjects were covered.

Turf, sports, women's names, flowers, medicines, politics, characters that had had «their 15 minutes» of recognition, outstanding events of Argentina and the world, the Navy, the Army and many topics more. For that reason and for what meant its birth, its quick development and the heroic aura with which its pioneers were justly awarded, a homage to aviation and its pilots was needed.

Some journalist called them «the lunatics of the air». Here we will mention the titles that were dedicated to them, their authors and a brief comment on the most outstanding aviators, beginning with two names that left their imprint in the history of tango: Fresedo and Maderna.

Osvaldo Fresedo obtained his pilot brevet number 231 in 1923. His instructor was Eduardo Olivero, regarded as one of the first «crazy guys of the air» and to whom the maestro gave some bandoneon lessons. That same year an air race was organized in the city of La Plata in which foreign aviators participated. Fresedo won it with a 90 HP Curtiss JN-4 and he got a check for $2000. The brigadier Ángel María Zuloaga in his book La victoria de las alas (The victory of the wings), expressed: «Fresedo was one of the outstanding pilots in those difficult beginnings». And Fresedo himself commented in an interview: «On one occasion Olivero with an little airplane not more than 4 meters long broke the record of height. I also flew it, its name was “La Ratona”. With this name I entitled a tango I wrote which was premiered and recorded in 1923, dedicated to Olivero’s recklessness, although in the sheetmusic appears: “Dedicated to the Argentine company of airplanes UDET”». Another title of his was “Desde las nubes” (From the clouds), with lyrics by Amadeo Canale, dedicated to “A los soñadores del aire” (The dreamers of the air) and premiered by Azucena Maizani in the third ball of The aviators in the Teatro Opera. He also collaborated with his brother Emilio, who was employed in the newspapers La Razón and La Nación, by bringing notes and photographic material from Montevideo. He put them in a rubber tube that he threw in the Colón square, behind the Government's House, where his brother picked it up.

Osmar Maderna was a civil pilot and he obtained his brevet only one year before his death in an accident. It happened at 5:20 pm on a Saturday afternoon on April 28, 1951. His machine was an Euroscope 415-CD. Next to another similar airplane he flew over the city of Lomas de Zamora, when near the Municipal Park the wings rubbed and they fell in curl from 200 meters high. The comments in the papers surmised that the approach could be due to some type of game between the pilots. That the sky was for him a great attraction is evidenced by the titles of some of his compositions: “Concierto en la luna” (Concerto on the Moon), “Lluvia de estrellas” (Stars’ Rain), “Luna de plata” (Silver Moon), with Miguel Caló, “En tus ojos de cielo” (In your heavenly eyes), with Luis Rubistein and “Fui golondrina perdida” (I was a lost swallow). In his homage the Orquesta Símbolo recorded a number by Orlando Trípodi: “Notas para el cielo” (Notes for the sky).

Many pieces were dedicated to Jorge Newbery, the main character of the Argentine aviation who with the globe El Pampero united Palermo with Colonia del Sacramento (Uruguay), founded the Argentine Aero Club, broke the distance record with El Huracán and arrived in Brazil, established the mark of height over 5.000 meters, and achieved many more feats: “A la memoria de Jorge Newbery”, by Gardel-Razzano, in the first anniversary of his death 1914-1915 which was not recorded; “Paso de los Andes”, by José F. Gómez; “Prendete del aeroplano”, by José Ezcurra; “Tu sueño”, a waltz by Arolas; “De pura cepa”, a tango by Roberto Firpo; “Newbery”, by Luciano Ríos, dedicated Mr. José M. Chinni president of the recreational center J. Newbery; “Jorge Newbery”, by Achilles Domingo Barbieri; “Un recuerdo a Newbery”, by José Arturo Severino; “El aeroplano”, a waltz by Pedro Datta. A special mention is for the tangos “El pampero”, by José De Caro and Luis San Martino’s with the same title, dedicated to Dr. Pablo M. Bárbaro. They both refer to the globe that he manned with Aaron Anchorena, in which was his first ascension and in the one that, later, his brother Eduardo died.

The captain Vicente Almandós Almonacid, was hero of the World War I, the first one in crossing the mountain range of the Andes in a night flight, pioneer of the commercial aviation. Two tangos with his name “Almonacid” were dedicated to him, one by Agesilao Ferrazzano and the other by Humberto Tallone. Also “A Chile de noche”, an Emilia Baddia de Burugua’s waltz and Domingo Salerno’s “Vuelo nocturno”.

Teodoro Pablo Fels, who being soldier of the Argentine Army, when everybody was sleeping and without permission, with the help of some friends, prepared a machine and carried out the crossing of the River Plate. After a three-hour flight he landed in Carrasco breaking the world record of flight on water. Pedro Sofia’s “El cabo Fels” and Vicente Mazzoco’s “Don Teodoro” were dedicated to him.

Benjamín Matienzo that flew 1135 kilometers from Buenos Aires to the province where he was born, Tucumán, and who died attempting a crossing of the mountain range of the Andes, was honored with three tangos. One entitled “Matienzo” composed by Udelino Toranzo takes as subtitle “Perdido en las cumbres” (Lost in the mountaintops) and the other two were one written by Domingo Salerno and the other by Alfredo De Rosa.

Pedro L. Zanni, a commodore, born in Pehuajó, who was professor and instructor and, in 1914, with a monoplane covered 640 Km. from El Palomar (province of Buenos Aires) to Villa Mercedes (San Luis), the biggest distance reached until then. He was honored with several numbers: “Zanni-Beltrame” by Elio Retti, “El gato” by Atilio Cattaneo, a nickname he had because of the presumed seven lives of cats since he came out unhurt of numerous accidents; “Zanni” by Ana Schneider de Cabrera, for the double voyage of the Andes and “The trio” by Santos Aschieri Jr., dedicated to the aces of the Argentine aviation Antonio Parodi, Marcos Zar and Pedro Zanni.

To Francisco De Pineda, an Italian aviator that united in 1927 his fatherland with Buenos Aires were dedicated: “Coronel De Pineda” by Vendittuoli and Guillermo Cavazza and “De Pineda” by Alberto Fresco and Martín Vilanova.

As for Eduardo Olivero, —Fresedo’s instructor—, of his many outstanding deeds is necessary to mention his incorporation to the Italian army during World War I and when together with Bernardo Duggan and the Italian mechanic Ernesto Campanelli, he carried out the New York-Buenos Aires raid on hydroplane (14.896 Km). The waltz “Los héroes del día” written by Lydia De Natale and Eugenio Cárdenas is a testimony of that feat. As for the instructor, he is especially remembered by the tango “Olivero” composed by José Martínez.

Other characters that had their tango pieces were: the first lieutenant Antonio Parodi who united El Palomar with Concordia (Among Ríos) and crossed to Chile from Mendoza, a round trip. The tango “De ida y vuelta” (Round Trip) by Ana Schneider de Cabrera with words by Ricardo Velasco is dedicated to him; to Bartolomé Cattaneo, an Italian who belonged to the Argentine air force, is dedicated the tango “Cattaneo” in whose sheet was written: “To the intrepid and famous aviator.”

Other related titles are: “El descenso”, tango written by Luis Segundo del Curto dedicated «To the distinguished aviators Bradley and Zuloaga»; “Capitán Aracena” by Osmán Pérez Freire, in recognition to the Chilean aviator; “Planeando”, tango by Salvador Grupillo dedicated «To the aviators in their 16th ball, Teatro Casino 1936»; “Barógrafo”, tango by Roberto Firpo in homage to Horacio Anasagasti, president of the Aero Club Argentino; “Locatelli”, by Enrique Delfino dedicated «To the fearless aviator lieutenant Antonio Locatelli»; “Triste fin” by Amelia R. Benvenutto, dedicated «To the unfortunate aviators Enzo Giovannardi, Mario Sarmiento and José Santorelli», “ Desengaño” by Francisco and Juan Canaro, dedicated to Emilio Poli; “El Buenos Aires”, for the aerostatic globe of the same name, by Alfonso Diez Jone; “Triunfo de aviación”, a great air force march by Eugenio Barone; “Pájaro de oro” and “Comandante Franco” , both in honor to the captain Ramón Franco that led the raid of the Plus Ultra hydroplane.