Martín F. Lemos

Terés - Interview to Bernardino Terés

e was born in Funes, Navarra, Spain. He arrived in our country in 1909 when he was already a professional musician.

In his childhood, Bernardino Terés, he had begun to study with the organist of the convent of his hometown. His parents nearly pushed him to become a priest. But one day he appeared in Mexico as organist of a church in whose religious ceremonies the musicians of the orchestra of the Teatro Principal played. They took him with them and when he was 18, because of an illness of the bandleader, they suggested him to replace the latter since he knew more than his older partners. Thereafter he had the chance of traveling to many cities of Mexico, he went to Cuba and, finally, he arrived in Buenos Aires, older and with enough experience.

«I’ve lived 59 years in Buenos Aires and I’m going to 87 years old. I live in this house of my own —he still has a slight Spanish accent—, far from the worldly noise and I am alone almost all day long since my wife died. My daughter Juanita goes out early to her job. She is a librarian in SADAIC. Sometimes I have a look at the large number of theater programs that I keep, photos, stamps, just that».

He soon found a job. He shows us the page of the P.B.T. magazine of November 20, 1909 glued on a cardboard. «Here —he tells us— are the images of the leading figures of the first Spanish cast that I directed at the Teatro Avenida, when I had just arrived in the country. This is me, with my young 27 years of age and my big moustaches. Of all them a girl only survives, Gabina de la Muela and I. By that time the Spanish operatic theater was extremely popular with the first two booms of the genre: La gran vía and La verbena de La Paloma. But, precisely, the abundance of Spanish theater companies that performed zarzuela and operetta forced us to go with our music to somewhere else.

«In 1911 I went to Chile, later to Lima, Colombia and other cities, conducting orchestras either alone or sharing the responsibility with local conductors. In 1913 I was back and at the Teatro Apolo I directed, with my friend Francisco Lozano, a mixed company, that is to say, Argentines and Spaniards. You might be guessing that I was getting closer to the criollo theater. It happens that the Spanish actors are getting accustomed to the Argentine mores and idioms, to such an extent that they can impersonate a provincial chief of police or a mazorquero sergeant. I recall the performances of Benito Cibrián and Abelardo Lastra. The latter died on stage during a play».

His music as well had a tendency towards the criollo and porteño styles, because, as director and composer, he took a big step in his career by promoting the «revista criolla» when he created a group of chorus girls that he named Las vírgenes de Terés. Nearly all them were showgirls born in our country. Adverse journal notes commented that the staff was lined up by girls coming from household service aspiring to become vedettes and that they were more suitable for that menial task. He responded by publishing ads in the most important newspapers requesting all those who regarded themselves as young and pretty to join a revue chorus.

Also as producer he staged plays of Argentine playwrights like Carlos Goicochea, Carlos Mauricio Pacheco, Antonio De Bassi, among others.

«I kept loyal to my creation of the chorus that even staged forty girls on stage. Sporadically I deserted to take care of other genres, as it happened in 1922, when at the Teatro Porteño I directed a very precocious child actor, Narcisín, Narciso Ibáñez Menta. As from 1926, when Alippi split with Muiño and organized a theater company that appeared in Montevideo, save for a couple of cases, I devoted myself entirely to the Buenos Aires vaudeville. I composed for Sofía Bozán, Alberto Anchart, I was with Ivo Pelay, with Carlos A. Petit, I wrote for and accompanied Maizani, Ada Falcón, María Esther Gamas and Manolita Poli.

«I have filed on the record around 200 pieces. For Spaniards the «tonadilla» was more than a cuplé. It was a short musical composition, with dramatic or cheerful lyric, which was in vogue in Buenos Aires in the twenties. The first one I wrote was entitled No te fíes de los hombres (Don't Trust Men) in 1913. Many female singers sang my «little things»: Raquel Meller, Linda Thelma and, of course, the one who would be later a great actress, Lola Membrives. She was Argentine and I accompanied her on recordings for the Nacional label, even in several tangos.

«I was a porteño on the narrow Corrientes Street and Spaniard when I walked along Avenida de Mayo».

Interview made by the author in Buenos Aires, 1968.