Enrique Espina Rawson

What would have come true (had not Gardel died)?

s for his financial panorama, up to June 24, 1935 the immediate prospects in Gardel’s life could not be more promising. Between June 1934 and that day his situation had experienced an extraordinary rise.

Finally after splitting with José Razzano and Odeon, and having cancelled all his debts, he had already collected important sums of money like the ones sent to Buenos Aires. We mention his disengagement from Odeon as a very important event because RCA-Victor, unlike the former, assured Gardel the distribution and advertising of his recordings in the United States market.

His present situation was excellent, then as for the financial point of view because he had to collect all the profits of the tour which were scattered until June 24, 1935. Something Alfredo Le Pera had sent to his own account in New York but there were still some accounts pending that had to do with the latest takings. Up to that time the financial profits of the tour could be estimated between 150.000 and 200.000 dollars. Panama, Cuba and Mexico were still ahead.

If to this we add what he would get in New York from the Paramount as an advance money for his new films and what he would collect for percentages of exhibition of El día que me quieras and Tango bar, that had just started to be shown, we would reach a sum that would be easily above 500.000 dollars or, for the local market, two million Argentine pesos in cash. Let us add, by the way, around $ 30.000 Argentine pesos for the contract with Radio El Mundo on his arrival. For that time it was a fortune.

This would have been of immediate consequences. In a wider term, two or three years, the scope open to his expectations had no limits because producing and distributing his own movies, according to what was known, guaranteed far greater benefits. The onerous percentages that the Paramount collected were cut and were transferred to his own account because he had decided to be his own producer.

As for his artistry, we know that Gardel was always open to innovations and, no doubt, he would have been interested in the song trends that were in development in Cuba and Mexico. Especially, with the new names that today are classics like María Grever and Agustín Lara. Under his influence a new dynamic in the Latin American song would have appeared. Probably presented in movies with stories that would take place in different countries of our continent. The casts would have included, besides Gardel, famous Latin American singers of that time like José Mojica, Ortiz Tirado, Dolores del Río, Pedro Vargas, Tito Guizar or Elvira Ríos.

The tango of the 40s itself would have been influenced by his new compositions and his new recordings of the local repertoire. We cannot forget that the Gardel-Le Pera team, that seems that had worked for a century, achieved in doing all they did in less than three years.

The Carlos Gardel-Alfredo Le Pera team placed in the Buenos Aires milieu among other great duos of authors like Francisco García Jiménez-Anselmo Aieta, Sebastián Piana-Homero Manzi or Juan Carlos Cobián-Enrique Cadícamo what wonderful things would have achieved!

In the local environment, the record and the movie industries would have reached levels of development that, not even in later decades reached, and Buenos Aires would have been one of the most important centers of the movies in the world. What multiplying expansion would this reality had played in all directions, on musical compositions, on orchestras, and, lastly, on all the milieu connected with popular art? It’s impossible to know it exactly but it would have been very great, indeed.

All these speculations, that were based on the expectations evidenced in his letters, were frustrated.

Even though it’s painful to ascertain the magnitude of what was lost that afternoon in Medellín, we must also be comforted by the evidence that Gardel has been the most amazing popular artist of all times. In spite of the fact that he did not carry out all his projects, what he did was more than enough. His popularity has remained unaltered for decades and decades after his death and has reached legendary levels. This is not so simple and, in fact, we don’t know a similar case either in our country or in the world. We are thinking of something quite similar to immortality.