Roberto Selles

Quejas de bandoneón - The history of “Quejas de bandoneón” and its renditions

uan de Dios Filiberto used to recall: «In 1918 I composed “La vuelta de Rocha” and “Quejas de bandoneón” in which I introduced the innovation of using bass notes in the trio section (that is to say, the melody written for the piano left hand). With them and with “Brasil” I appeared at the tango contest sponsored by the Asistencia Pública (Public Health Service). By that time I attended the Conservatorio Williams and Alberto Williams was member of the board. I was optimistic and hopeful but unfortunately I was disappointed. Athos Palma was awarded for a tango he had composed».

Despite that drawback Fate had another goal reserved for this stupendous tango entitled “Quejas de bandoneón”. One afternoon Filiberto met Augusto Berto on the Street. By that time the latter was appearing at the cabaret L'Abbaye (Esmeralda Street between Lavalle and Tucumán) with his quartet that included Peregrino Paulos (violin), Luis Teisseire (flute), José Sassone (piano) and the leader on bandoneon. And it happened that he asked the composer from La Boca some of his tangos to premiere at that venue.

As soon as possible Filiberto handed him the handwritten score of “Quejas de bandoneón”. The premiere of the piece was answered by a deafening applause. But the composer was unable to find a publisher despite its success. «Only a year and a half later, in 1920, I managed to publish it... and at my own expense».

We possess an old sheet music of the tango piece, without date or mention of the publisher, which makes us guess that it may be the same one that was paid by the composer. In it there is the unknown lyric signed by someone named Russo (it only appears his surname) which begins with: «Vaga la dulce ilusión/ como un recuerdo que flota/ y se pierde entre la nota del sonoro bandoneón».

Quejas de bandoneón” had to wait until 1944 to get the definitive consecration which placed it among the authentic classics. It was when Aníbal Troilo recorded it in a rendition that, undoubtedly, resisted the devastating passing of time.