Ricardo García Blaya

The vals criollo

he Real Academia Española defines waltz as a dance of German origin, performed by couples with rotating and gliding movements. It is accompanied by a music in 3/4 time, generally with 16-bar phrases, at a fast tempo.

Most experts say it was born in the Tyrol region and mention as an antecedent «la volte», a dance also in 3/4 of the twelfth century. Certainly it becomes popular in the nineteenth century, takes its definitive name and we find it in operas and ballets.

The great classical masters delved into the genre creating true musical gems. Let us see the following examples: Fryderyk Chopin with his well-remembered the “Minute waltz”, among others; Johann Strauss, with “Blue Danube” or the “Emperor’s Waltz” and Piotr Tchaikovsky with “Nutcracker”, “The Sleeping Beauty” and “The Swan Lake”. We can also name Johannes Brahms, Emil Waldteufel, Franz Schubert, Franz Liszt.

This musical form has different characteristics according to the region where it is danced and so we can distinguish: the German waltz; the Russian waltz, with a beat more stressed than the former; the Viennese or Austrian waltz, called two-time waltz according to its choreography; the American waltz named Boston and many others more.

In Latin America it also has different features according to each country: the Mexican waltz or vals ranchero; the Peruvian waltz, with shorter steps; the vals criollo that when it developed became what some people call tango waltz because of its orchestration in the tango aggregations, and so we can mention several other examples.

By 1810 the European waltz is danced in Buenos Aires and in Montevideo, especially in the higher social classes, replacing the old dances and coexisting with other new forms: polkas, schottis and habaneras.

When the people began to express themselves with this beat the vals criollo was born. At the beginning it was heard on the strings of the itinerant singers and was polished later with the contribution of the immigrants. The mythic José Betinotti is an example with his waltz “Tu diagnóstico”, recorded by Carlos Gardel in 1922 and refurbished by Aníbal Troilo with Francisco Fiorentino on vocals in 1941.

Tango musicians include waltzes in their repertories, bringing us beautiful pieces:

Gerardo Metallo: “Recordándote [b]”, recorded by La Rondalla del Gaucho Relámpago in 1915 for ERA Records.

Pascual De Gullo: “Lágrimas y sonrisas”, committed to record by Eduardo Arolas in 1914, and a hit in Rodolfo Biagi’s rendition in 1941.

Juan Maglio: “Orillas del Plata”, recorded by its composer for Odeon in 1928.

José Felipetti: “Pabellón de las rosas”, included in the charts of a great number of aggregations and recorded by “La Rondalla del Gaucho Relámpago in 1913 and by Arolas in 1914.

Pedro Datta: “El aeroplano”. One of the first recordings is by Francisco Canaro with his trio for the Atlanta label in 1915.

Roberto Firpo: “Noches de frío”, released by its composer as a piano solo in 1912, among many other waltzes penned by him.

Rosita Melo: “Desde el alma”, possibly one of the best known and most recorded. Firpo recorded it in 1920.

Vicente Romeo: “Un placer”, committed to record by Firpo and Ignacio Corsini in 1922.

Anselmo Aieta: “Palomita blanca”, the most popular piece of the genre. Its earliest renderings are the one by Canaro with Charlo and later with Ada Falcón, in 1929. By the end of that year Corsini recorded it.

Francisco Canaro, with a large number of hits in this beat, we highlight two: “Corazón de oro” and “Yo no sé qué me han hecho tus ojos”. Furthermore, Pirincho recorded European waltzes, among which “Amor y primavera” and “Dolores” are standouts, both composed by Emil Waldteufel.

Antonio Sureda: “A su memoria”, recorded by Agesilao Ferrazzano in 1927.
Augusto Berto: “Penas de amor”, recorded by the composer in 1913 for Atlanta records.

Carlos Vicente Geroni Flores: “La virgen del perdón”, recorded by Gardel, Corsini and Ada Falcón, in 1929.

Alberto Acuña: “Temblando”, with the outstanding renditions of Corsini in 1933, and Aníbal Troilo with Fiorentino on vocals in 1944.

Enrique Maciel: “La pulpera de Santa Lucía”, with a great number of recordings; the most famous one, Corsini’s in 1929.

Rafael Rossi: “Rosas de abril”, recorded by Gardel in 1927.

Víctor Troysi: “El día que me quieras [c]” (same title as Gardel and Lepera’s song), whose sheet music mentions its composer as the “King of Boston Waltz”.

Among other widely spread waltzes we can name: “Caserón de tejas” and “Esquinas porteñas” (Sebastián Piana), “Absurdo” (Virgilio Expósito), “Flor de lino” (Héctor Stamponi), “Pequeña” (Osmar Maderna), “Amor y celo” (Miguel Padula), “Bajo un cielo de estrellas” and “Pedacito de cielo” (Enrique Francini and Stamponi), “La serenata de ayer” (Manuel Buzón), “El viejo vals” and “Tu pálida voz” (Charlo), “Gota de lluvia” and “Romántica” (Félix Lipesker), “La vieja serenata” (Teófilo Ibáñez), “Luna de arrabal” (Julio César Sanders), “Me besó y se fue” (José Canet), “Romance de barrio” (Aníbal Troilo), “Sueño de juventud” (Enrique Santos Discépolo).

A special paragraph deserve two Peruvian waltzes. The first one, “La flor de la canela” written by the Peruvian composer Chabuca Granda, with the unforgettable rendering by Aníbal Troilo with Roberto Goyeneche and Angel Cárdenas on vocals in 1957; the second one, “Que nadie sepa mi sufrir”, penned by Argentine songwriters, recorded by Hugo del Carril in 1936 and by Alberto Castillo in 1953.

Gardel composed some waltzes: “Ausencia”, with José Razzano and “Amores de estudiante”, among others. His guitarists also did: “Añoranzas” (José María Aguilar), “Rosa de otoño (Rosas de otoño)”, “Al pie de tu reja”, “Tu vieja ventana” (Guillermo Barbieri), “Noche de Atenas” (Horacio Pettorossi), “Quejas del alma [b]” (Domingo Julio Vivas).