Eduardo Rafael

Mores - Mariano Mores’s memories

y romance with tango began when I was 14. I was traveling on a streetcar along Corrientes Avenue from the low-lying area near the river to Chacarita. When we passed by the Café Vicente that was across the Germinal I saw an announcement requiring a pianist that would play international music, read at first sight and that knew how to transpose. I got off, the boss auditioned me and he hired me for three pesos and fifty cents a day.

«It was in 1936. The memory of Carlos Gardel’s death was still fresh but I almost didn’t know who he was. Once my father heard a record in a shop and told me who he was. The stories about Gardel thrilled me and I said to myself that I had to know what he had done, especially the tangos he co-wrote with Alfredo Le Pera. That was really my beginning because at that café I never played a tango.

«Soon thereafter I began to study at the PAADI (Primera Academia Argentina de Interpretación)(First Argentine Academy of Interpretation) which was located on Callao 420 and its director was Luis Rubistein. The main figures of the time went there to practice vocalization. Rubistein was a good poet but he played piano by ear like Enrique Discépolo and like Rodolfo Sciammarella. Soon later I began to transcribe the latter’s music notes to the music staff.

«One of his greatest hits, the waltz “Salud, dinero y amor”, that I wrote for him, was originally a zamba. I had noticed that his songs had acclaim and then I asked Rubistein to write some lyrics, I composed the music and so “Gitana” was born. It was a song in Spanish style that I never played but which was recorded by the phenomenal Tito Schipa. Here it was a boom by the Gómez-Vila duo.

«At that time Paraguayan music was in vogue. It had been popularized by Samuel Aguayo. “India” was heard everywhere. I can write a song like that, I said. I composed “Flor de hastío” and later I forgot about it. Years later I went to Asunción and it was a smash hit there but they did not know who the author was.

«Soon thereafter Rubistein appointed me as teacher in PAADI. There I met Myrna who later became my wife. She studied with professor Samuel Averbuj. Soon she sang in a duo with her sister and when I joined them with my piano it became the Trío Mores. So I picked up their family name. The trio disbanded when I joined the Francisco Canaro Orchestra.

«To be near her I rented a small room in Villa del Parque on 2400 Terrada Street. I painted it with whitewash to which I added a blue bleaching agent for the laundry. So was born the number: “Cuartito azul”. It was a hit because of its music and due to the lyrics by Mario Battistella.

«I always wrote the music first, later the lyricist had to add the words. The exception was Enrique Cadícamo. He handed me the lyrics and I worked on it later. With Discépolo, at times, it was simultaneously. I was seated at the piano waiting for inspiration and then I played some notes and soon Discépolo told me a phrase that fitted perfectly.

«I met Canaro through Sciammarella who had become a close friend of mine. He introduced me to Ivo Pelay who was the script writer of his theater plays and the lyricist of many tangos. He offered me to join his orchestra. He was impressed by the success of “Cuartito azul” sung by Ignacio Corsini and by Ricardo Ruiz with Osvaldo Fresedo. He included my number in a musical of his, Pantalones cortos, but it didn’t work. It was billed out.

«During the season I came to know Alberto Vacarezza. I knew he had a pretty piece of lyrics and I suggested that I would write the music to it. He was reluctant because I was very young but finally I challenged him: I would write it all the same, if he did not like it he would reject it and that would be all right. But it turned out the waltz “Muchachita porteña”. I joined the Canaro’s orchestra to conduct the choir that had been directed by maestro Antonio Lozzi until then.

«At the beginning I was not enthusiastic by having joined the orchestra. They used to say that Canaro mistreated his musicians. That put me back a little. But on the other hand, I had adapted to tango some Japanese melodies that we recorded with the Mores sisters. That brought me some prestige in the milieu and a lot of money because the Japanese who had hired us paid 5000 dollars. One hundred to each girl and the rest for me. Quite a fortune at age seventeen!

«Then so as people would see me every evening I used to get off the streetcar on Corrientes Avenue and walk from Callao to Florida along the south sidewalk. I crossed the street and came back along the north sidewalk. I did that because I had bought seven suits, seven shirts, seven ties, seven pairs of stockings and seven pairs of shoes: an outfit for each day. One suit was shocking blue. You ought to have a face to put it on. But besides I was sort of good-looking.

«The salary was my starting point. “How much do you want to earn?” —the maestro asked me—. “Like Irusta, Fugazot and Demare”, I replied. There was no problem. Soon later not only did I conduct the choir but also he added one more piano and then he had two pianists. The other one was Luis Riccardi. It was funny because I had planned to play for ten days and finally it became a ten-year tenure.

«The pianists I liked most were firstly Lucio Demare, secondly Carlos García and always a great maestro like Horacio Salgán.

«Movies drove me away from the orchestra. I had an offer to appear as leading actor in a motion Picture and being starred in the movies at that time, in the forties, was very important. Canaro didn’t like it very much. I think that the people that surrounded him persuaded him that I had quit to challenge him. He told me: “Look, Marianito, this is a long, long road. Many ones think that they have reached the stars and they end up fallen on the ground. You already wear long trousers, you can walk by yourself”. They were unable to make us break up. Just in case, I quit music for a while. The movie was El otro yo de Marcela. A smash hit.

«As composer I began with Battistella, later Vacarezza, and after that I met José María Contursi at the Germinal where Aníbal Troilo was playing. I approached him in order to congratulate him for the brand-new “Milonga de mis amores” he had co-written with Pedro Laurenz. He was incredibly successful with women... bah! We both were winners. The first thing we wrote together was “En esta tarde gris”. Later we made one tango per year: “Gricel”, “Cada vez que me recuerdes”, “Cristal”, “Tu piel de jazmín”.

«Discépolo was charming, a wonderful bohemian. He was a remarkable man. I had to wait for three years for his lyrics of “Uno”. Later we wrote “Cafetín de Buenos Aires”. While we were in the process of this tango, one day the actor Arturo de Córdoba was visiting us, I repeated the notes on the piano and Enrique was looking for the words. He was stuck, and suddenly, he saw Arturo’s profile. He had a nose like those of the boxing fighters and then that was born: “La ñata contra el vidrio” (The nose pressed on the glass). Contursi was more musical. And Manzi was the great poet of tango. Before he died he told me: “I’m going to die and I have done nothing with you”. I had written a kind of tango-malambo. I began to play an intro to it and told him: “This is very difficult”. From his bed he listened to the music and suddenly he sang: “La voz triste y sentida/de tu canción...” (The sad and heartfelt voice of your song) and he continued: “Una lágrima tuya me besa el alma” (Your tear kisses my soul), he was still much in love with Nelly Omar.

«With Cadícamo I have two hits: “A quién le puede importar” and “Copas, amigas y besos”. He always was the gentleman among the Buenos Aires poets, with a Gardelian touch. He brought to the history of our tango the best of our popular treasure. We ought to pay the homage he deserves right now.

«I also composed with Cátulo Castillo. He was quite a personality, he made me conduct the National Symphony Orchestra. It was at the Teatro Cervantes. General Perón went to see the show. He enjoyed it very much and there the idea that this orchestra would play in Europe with two conductors was born. One for classical music and another for popular music. The latter would me myself. It was the first time a president came to see me. It was on April 14, 1955. The revolution frustrated that project.

«Those were not good times and these aren’t either. Anyway, if there is not money for a sandwich you listen to a tango and you’ll forget about food».

Interview to Mariano Mores published in La Maga magazine on May 5, 1993.