Roberto Selles

Cap Polonio - Story of the tango “Cap Polonio”

ap Polonio was the name of a ship which, among other little voyages, cruised to Brazil and to the Patagonia back in the twenties in the last century. Francisco Lomuto composed “Nunca más” and “Tierra del Fuego” onboard while he played with his orchestra on those pleasant voyages. But on those days the steamship already had its own tango.

Adolfo Rosquellas had composed it and he entitled it, precisely, “Cap Polonio”. It is said he composed it onboard that boat after hearing a young lady play on piano the zamba “La López Pereyra”. He used its melody transcribed into a tango beat for the second section.

The first one in spreading “La López Pereyra” throughout the country was Andrés Chazarreta, who signed it in 1916, but it was, possibly, composed by Artidorio Cresseri. At least this musician gave it such name when he dedicated it, in Salta and in 1901, to the judge Carlos López Pereyra. Anyway, it is heard in the altiplano with different local beats and it is also known as “El sapo y la comadreja” (The frog and the weasel), an anonymous air.

Beyond the origin of the second section, it is also known the story which says that the enterprise which owned the steamboat thanked the composer with a voyage to Europe, which can be possibly true, because it does not contradict the story we have told above.

True or not, Rosquellas enjoyed sea voyages, since he was in France, in 1926, and in 1927 he settled in the United States, where he organized the Orquesta Pancho, name which had to do with his name. And there he passed away.

Getting back to “Cap Polonio”, Juan Andrés Caruso wrote words for it, which Ignacio Corsini committed to record: «Cuando en el Cap Polonio/ sentada en popa/ cruces el mar,/ el chocar de las olas/ de mis recuerdos/ te hablarán» (When on the Cap Polonio, seated on the stern, you cross the sea, the kicking of the waves of my memories will talk to you).

Cap Polonio” remained as one of the best known tangos of its composer, together with “Pura clase” and “Una pena”, the latter with words by Arturo Albert, which Carlos Gardel and Ángel Vargas recorded.

It was recorded as a piano solo by Enrique Delfino (1922), by Ignacio Corsini with guitars (1922), by the Francisco Lomuto orchestra (1927), by the Ciriaco Ortiz trio (1948), by the Los Tubatango led by Guillermo Inchausty (in the seventies).

Published in the section Así nació, published in Ahora Sunday magazine of the Crónica newspaper.