Pablo Taboada

Summary of his life and career

arlos Gardel was born in the city of Toulouse, France, on 11 December 1890. Son of an unknown father and Berta Gardés, who gave him her surname, he was christened as Charles Romuald Gardés.

In 1893 his mother arrived in Argentina with her small child who was around two years old.

His childhood was spent in the surroundings of the Mercado de Abasto, his adopted neighborhood, so then El Morocho del Abasto was born.

He attended grammar school at San Carlos and San Estanislao schools and gave up studying at the second year of high school, in 1906.

His vocation was singing and encouraged by the payador José Betinotti, who named him El Zorzal Criollo, he started singing at commitee meetings (political centers) and eating houses of the Abasto area.

By the time of the Centennial of the May Revolution(1910), he was the artistic number at the café O'Rondemann owned by the Traverso brothers.

In 1911, together with José Razzano, a singer at the café El Pelado in the neighborhood of Balvanera, he formed the Gardel-Razzano duo, which would designate a stage of his artistic life.

In 1912 the guitar player and singer Francisco Martino was added to the duo. This trio appeared at the Casa Suiza Festivals on 254 Rodríguez Peña street.

Some time later Gardel was called by Casa Tagini for recording his early discs on Columbia Records label.

By then, his repertory had no tangos, but folk songs.

In 1913 the trio was enhanced and turned into a quartet adding the singer Saúl Salinas, they went on tour of the province of Buenos Aires countryside. When the new member Salinas left they went on under the name Terceto Nacional and in December 1913, Martino split with them, and therefore the «Dúo Nacional Gardel-Razzano» was definitely put together. In December in that year they had their debut at the prestigious Cabaret-Restaurant Armenonville, singing native songs.

On 8 January 1914 the duo appeared at the Teatro Nacional of Buenos Aires and since then they started to sing at every Buenos Aires theater, touring the main Argentine cities, Rosario, Santa Fe and Córdoba.

In 1915 they had their debut in the República Oriental del Uruguay, at the Teatro Royal in Montevideo, that same year, they began a tour of Brazil and on that trip Gardel met his great idol, the Italian tenor Enrico Caruso.

In the late 1915, at a quarrel Gardel was shot in the lung what deprived him some time from singing. That bullet would be lodged in his body during all his lifetime. By then, the guitarist José Ricardo, called El Negro joined the duo.

In 1916, already recovered, he resumed alongside Razzano his season in Mar del Plata.

The following year he decided to sing publicly a tango, and so one evening at the Teatro Empire in Buenos Aires he premiered “Mi noche triste (Lita)” by Samuel Castriota and Pascual Contursi. Since then he would include tangos in his repertory.

On 9 April 1917 the Glucksmann house hired them to record. He is starred on a silent movie: Flor de Durazno and together with Razzano he started his first tour of Chile.

From 1918 to 1922 the duo often worked at theaters in Buenos Aires, Montevideo and all the cities of the countryside of the Argentine Republic. As of 1921 the duo is accompanied by the guitarists José Ricardo and Guillermo Desiderio Barbieri.

By 1923, and with Gardel already immersed in tango, he began with Razzano, together with the Compañía Rivera-De Rosas, a tour of Mar del Plata, Montevideo, Brazil and Spain, making their debut at the Teatro Apolo in Madrid.

In 1924 he returned to Buenos Aires and sang on Radio LOW Gran Splendid and recorded for the first time accompanied by Francisco Canaro´s orchestra and a year later he would do it accompanied by Osvaldo Fresedo´s orchestra.

In Rafaela, a city in the province of Santa Fe, the duo sang for the last time. So as of 1925 Gardel turned into a soloist, traveling to Spain together with the Compañía Rivera-De Rosas. He sang on 5 de November 1925 at the Teatro Goya in Barcelona, where he recorded his first discs with the electric system.

On his comeback to Buenos Aires, he made his first electric take in the country —on November 8— by singing the pasodoble “Puñadito de sal”.

In November 1927 he traveled again to Spain and in January the following year he sang on Radio Catalana and recorded again in Barcelona to later tour all Spain.
In the mid- 1928 he returned to Buenos Aires, and the Uruguayan guitarist José María Aguilar joined the accompanying group.

After a brief stay in Buenos Aires and Montevideo they traveled to France and made their debut at the theater Fémina in Paris on 30 September 1928.

In October he performed at the cabaret Florida in Paris, with a remarkable boom and he besides recorded discs.

In January 1929 he made a short tour of Italy and on February 5, already back in France, he sang at the Paris Opera, traveling later to the Cote d´Azur where he strikingly succeeded.

In March he came back to Paris and made his debut at the Empire theater, producing some recordings, later he went to Spain where he performed at the Principal Palace in Barcelona and at the Teatro Avenida in Madrid, a city where the guitarist José Ricardo split from the group.

In the mid- 1929, he returned to Buenos Aires full of glory together with Barbieri and Aguilar.

His success alternated on both margins of the River Plate, he recorded discs and, in 1930, his famous short movies with soundtrack were shot.

In 1930 he made a new trip to France performing at the Empire in Paris and the next year at the Mediterranean Palace in Nice, with the guitars of Barbieri and Riverol, but without Aguilar who had returned to Buenos Aires. In March he came back to the Empire of Paris and later changed to the Palace of Paris where he remained several months.

In Joinville, for the French Paramount, the film Luces de Buenos Aires was shot.

He returned to South America and after a brief stay in Buenos Aires and Montevideo he again went to Europe without his guitarists. Between the late 1931 and August 1932 Gardel made tours of the Cote d´Azur, Italy, London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin and Barcelona.

Between September and November he is starred for the French Paramount in Esperame and together with Imperio Argentina in La casa es seria and Melodía de arrabal. For these movies, Alfredo Le Pera began to work alongside Gardel, and their early tangos in collaboration were born: “Melodía de arrabal”, “Silencio”, “Me da pena confesarlo”, etc.

In 1933 they returned to Buenos Aires, and his guitar lineup was: Barbieri, Riverol, Vivas and Pettorossi, they worked in Montevideo and in the Argentine and the Uruguay's countryside. This would be the last time his public saw him.

His last recording in Buenos Aires was on 6 November 1933 when he committed to disc “Madame Ivonne”, a tango by Eduardo Pereyra and Enrique Cadícamo.

On November 7 he left for ever. Again in Europe, after a brief passing through Barcelona and Paris he traveled to the United States, to make a debut on the most important radio network in the world, the NBC of New York, on 31 December that same year.

In 1934 with Alfredo Le Pera's collaboration, in the scriptwriting, Gardel shot Cuesta abajo, Mi Buenos Aires querido and Tango en Broadway, for Paramount Pictures of New York.

After a brief trip to France, in the late 1934 he again performed at the NBC and was starred, participating in the Paramount musical Cazadores de estrellas with Bing Crosby, Richard Tauber and Ray Noble, among other greats.

Between January and February 1935 he was starred on the films El día que me quieras and Tango Bar where he sang his most remembered hits.

In April, Gardel decided to set out for a tour of Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Aruba, Curaçao, Colombia, Panamá, Cuba and Mexico, but destiny prevented its completion by the tragic air crash in Medellín which ended his life on 24 June 1935.