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Saturday, 1 September 2007

Pugliese, the innovator

Nadim (tanguero from Melbourne) has just sent me this historic link of Osvaldo Pugliese and his orchestra playing at the famous Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. It got me thinking about how Pugliese's tango compositions and arrangements are truly innovative (and therefore more demanding for dancers).

Pugliese was not a mainstream kind of guy. Joining the Communist Party because of the injustices of the Spanish Civil War landed him in gaol several times. As a sign of support during his imprisonment, his orchestra would still perform in his absence, but with a red rose on his piano.

From his early compositions La Yumba and Recuerdo, the distinctive strong, driving beat is present. But particularly in his later work, this is also meshed with exquisite lyrical elements, as well as intense, emotionally demanding passages. Without doubt, that's why so many dancers chose his later pieces, such as Pata ancha (Geraldine Rojas & Javier Rodriguez) and Gallo ciego (Lorena Ermocida & Osvaldo Zotto) for performances.

Despite his huge, trail-blazing body of work, when declared an honorary citizen of Buenos Aires he responded with a modest "I am merely a labourer for tango".

After his death in 1995, Roberto Alvarez, the great bandoneonista of his orchestra, took over the Pugliese baton and now leads the well-known orchestra Color Tango.

1 comment:

  1. I hardly know a few names related to tango, though I'm Uruguayan and live in Buenos Aires.
    But I know Pat and Bob and know about their love for and dedication to tango.
    I've recently heard that Pugliese's widow was complaining about the total lack of attention to Pugliese's monument. She was wondering whether the government of the city of Buenos Aires couldn't afford arg.$ 1.000 (approx. 300 US-Dollars) to keep it in decent condition.
    Maybe you, the Australian fans of tango and Pugliese would be interested to help her ...

    Kind regards


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