Montag, 10. Mai 2021

Interview with Oscar Del Priore

Osvaldo Fresedo:
Well, (about my) trajectory within tango... actually... it was an afternoon that I was told: tonight an Orquesta Típica is coming to a café on Chorroarin Street and Triunvirato. And they told me: "And they are going to play bandoneon". I had no idea what the instrument was like, the bandoneon. I heard some records, by Pacho, I was very young. But I didn't know what shape the bandoneon had, not even that. And that's how, with some friends from the neighborhood there in La Paternal, we went to a café on Chorroarian Street, I think it was a Saturday. And it was a little cafe that would have... What? 8 meters by 12 meters or so. And there were a lot of tables and it was full of people, but we found a little table. We asked for a coffee and they gave us a coffee and a number, and I say, "What's this number for?" Oh no, he said, "Because at midnight they're going to raffle off a bottle of cognac. Oh, I said: "That's good! This is real nice!" Very well, we waited there and a (sic) three people came: one with a violin, one with a box that later they took out what was the bandoneon that I didn't know at that time, and another with a guitar. And I find out now, not now, I find out later... that that violin was Francisco Canaro. The bandoneon was Augusto (Pedro) Berto and the guitar was Domingo Salernan (Sic) (Salerno) who is still alive. And that's how I got into it, I heard the bandoneon being played, I liked the sound of the bandoneon very much, I had heard it more or less before by record from the records they sold of Pacho. I had heard it before at the neighbors' house, but it never occurred to me, because I don't think we had a phonograph either. So... it never occurred to me to know what it was. I would hear it from the neighbors' house and the guys would dance with each other outside, there in the neighborhood of La Paternal; and it was then that I got fired up, and since I really liked music because my mother played the piano... then I bought a concertina. Which costed me 10 pesos in a house called McApperlane which was on Cuyo Street, at that time it was called Cuyo which today is Sarmiento Street. In Cuyo Street, that is, Sarmiento Street, as we would call it nowadays to the... to the... 1200 or so. I bought that concertina. I started to investigate more or less the notes because it had... I think it had about 20 keys (sic) on each side and so I started playing. And my brother Emilio the violin and Pedro Barreto and Martin Barreto sometimes took turns on the guitar because they both played guitar really well. And that's how it started... the history (laughs) the history of my first gigs.

Regarding in which year this happens: We can speculate based on Domingo Salerno's biography in TodoTango that this happened in 1913. Since the Trio Canaro-Berto-Salerno was active since 1912 and they usually played at the Café Venturista in Triunvirato and Serrano, probably close to Triunvirato and Chorrarin. Fresedo's biographic data in various sources: TodoTango, Oscar Zucchi's interview and this recording also states that as fact.

Oscar Del Priore: What was your first tango?
Fresedo: Well, my first tango was... the one that today is called "El espiante". Because I used to lock myself up at night, in the house where we lived it was a very big house that was divided into three parts: one part that came out on the left, another part that came out on the right and a flat part in front of the house that was the dining room. So I would go into the living room, we would say it was the living room and... there, I'd begin to study. Because I have to tell you something that I didn't told you: After the concertina thing, I was very enthusiastic about the bandoneon. But my father sent me to the Pagano Academy to study to be a trade expert. And since I liked the bandoneon so much and I... I didn't like much the business of numbers, and of studying, and of commerce or anything like that. I was so young that I... I couldn't possibly fit in. I was more into music. So I slacked off and I started collecting those 20 pesos that my father gave me to pay for the Pagano merchant academy, which was on Uruguay Street. And I would go to the port. I would spend (the time) around there until I got the money to buy a bandoneon. That's how I bought my first bandoneon, which costed me 60 pesos. In that same house where I had bought the concertina. This is one... one facet of this story.
Oscar Del Priore: We were talking about " El espiante", right?...
Fresedo: Aha... yeah, that's right. " El espiante"... one night I was studying, as I had said before, I was in the living room of the house. I was studying and I heard the police round. Because they used to call the round with a whistle (Fresedo imitates the sound of a whistle). That was the round and then another watchman who was 500 meters away answered, or a little more or a little less answered. That was the round. And then it occurred to me to do it on the bandoneon; to do that. And then I went out with the bandoneon and started to do my first tango inspired by the round call.
Now undoubtedly at that time (the) tangos had to be "Arrabaleros". Or at least it was necessary to give them "Arrabalero" names... because it was not possible to conceive a tango that would be... "The white rose" or something like that.
Oscar Del Priore: It makes a nice title for a waltz.
Fresedo: That's it. You couldn't conceive that then. It had to be an "Arrabalero" title. And someone advised me, I don't remember who, "Why don't you call it El espiante?" All right, that's very good, "El espiante." And I called it ""El espiante." And we played that tango so much, I mean... "we played"... the orchestra we had was a trio: It was my brother Emilio, it was Barreto, and it was me on the bandoneon. But one day it occurred to me to give it to play to some orchestra. And that's how I went to see Augusto Berto, who was playing on Corrientes Street in front of the church... this church that was on Carlos Pellegrini Street and Corrientes, to San Nicolas Church. There on Corrientes Street, in front of the side of San Nicolás Church. Because the San Nicolás Church faced Carlos Pellegrini Street. Augusto Berto was playing there. So I brought him 3 copies and he said: "Well, sit down for a moment there, we are going to play it" and they played it at first sight, and it was the first of the orchestras that played my tango. It was Augusto Berto. So that' s how things happened regarding my first tango "El espiante".

One of the first recordings of "El espiante" was Roberto Firpo's, which was made in 1916. We can speculate that Fresedo composed it that year.

Oscar Del Priore: And "El once" how was it born?
Osvaldo Fresedo: "El once"... was born... you know, I have to tell you how. Before, in the hospitals, in all the hospitals, there were medical students that went to the hospitals, lived in the hospitals. They had their residency there, there were special rooms where they lived in the hospitals. Every hospital when the Students' Day came on September 21, they would have a show, an event. And they would hire orchestras for that date. So every orchestra they hired had the obligation to make a tango alluding to that party. In 1918, I think it was... '18 or '19... '18 I think it was, yeah. I went to a dance too. So I had to make a tango for the dance. And since it was the 6th dance of the internship, I did the tango "El sexto". Now, when it was the 11th dance of the internship that I was also hired with the orchestra... I also had to make a tango. Then I called well, "El once". Because it was the eleventh dance of the internship...
Oscar Del Priore: And it was the last
Osvaldo Fresedo: And it was the last dance because frankly in one of those hospitals, there were the students who were doing their internship. Someone made a bad joke to the rector, I don't know how you call those who take care of the hospitals... they went through the window disguised doing a bad joke with guns and who else knows what, this man woke up in a daze, I don't know who it was, he threw a shot and killed a student named O'Farren. From that moment on, the internship was over. They took the internship out of all the hospitals and those student dances were never (ever) performed again.
Now, that tango "El once"... was premiered, I premiered it at the eleventh dance of the internship, and frankly it was an improvised tango. Because time was passing me by and I forgot that the tango had to be done. And one day at the Abdullah Club I said to Rizzuti and the boys: "Please, in A major, follow me, I am going to improvise". And I came out with the melody "El Espiante"... with "El once", I mean. I came out with the melody of "El once" and then I was telling them the tones that were going on and that's how it was done. Then I wrote it and in three days it was printed and could be distributed in the eleventh dance, eleventh and last dance of the internship.

Oscar Del Priore: ¿Cuál fue su primer tango?
Fresedo: Bueno, mi primer tango fue... el que hoy se llama "El espiante". Porque yo me encerraba de noche, en la casa donde vivíamos era una casona muy grande que se dividía en tres partes: una parte saliente a la izquierda, otra parte saliente a la derecha y una parte chata en el frente de la casa que era el comedor. Entonces me encarraba en la sala, diríamos que es la sala y... ahí, empezaba a estudiar. Porque le tengo que contar una cosa que no se la conté: Después del asunto de la concertina, me entusiasmé mucho por el bandoneón. Pero mi padre me mandaba a la academia Pagano a estudiar para perito mercantil. Y como a mi me gustaba tanto el bandoneón y yo... no me gustaba mucho el asunto de los números, y de estudiar, y de comercio ni nada de esas cosas. Era tan jovencito que no... posiblemente no me entraba. A mi me entraba más la música. Entonces me hacía la rabona y me fui juntando esos 20 pesos que mi padre me daba para pagar la academia mercantil Pagano, que estaba en la calle Uruguay. Y me iba al puerto. Me iba a pasar (el tiempo) por ahí hasta juntarme la plata para comprarme un bandoneón. Fue así que me compré el primer bandoneón, que me costó 60 pesos. En esa misma casa en que había comprado la concertina. Esta es una... una faz de esta historia.
Oscar Del Priore: Estabamos hablando de "El espiante", ¿no?...
Fresedo: Aha... si, es cierto. "El espiante"... una noche que estaba estudiando, como yo había dicho anteriormente, que estaba en la sala de la casa. Estaba estudiando y oía la ronda de la policía. Porque antes se acostumbraba a hacer el pito la ronda (Fresedo imita el sonido de un silbato). Era la ronda y entonces le contestaba otro vigilante que estaba a 500 metros de ahí, o un poco más o un poco menos y le contestaba. Eso era la ronda. Y entonces se me ocurrió a mi hacerlo en el bandoneón a eso. Y Entonce salí con el bandoneón y empecé a hacerme mi primer tango con la llamada del espiante. Ahora indudablemente en aquel tiempo (a) los tangos había que hacerlos arrabaleros. O por lo menos había que ponerle nombres arrabaleros... porque no se concebía un tango que diría... "La rosa blanca" o alguna cosa de esas.
Oscar Del Priore: Tiene lindo título para un vals.
Fresedo: Eso es. Entonces no se concebía eso. Tenía que ser un título arrabalero. Y alguien me aconsejó, no me acuerdo quién: "¿Y por qué no le ponés "El espiante"?". Muy bien, me parece muy bien, "El espiante". Y le puse "El espiante". Y era así tanto que tocabamos ese tango, es decir... "tocabamos" yo este... la orquesta que teníamos nosotros era un Trío: Era mi hermano Emilio, era Barreto, y era yo en el bandoneón. Pero estee... un día se me ocurrió darlo a tocar a alguna orquesta. Y fue así que fui a verlo a Augusto Berto, que tocaba en la calle Corrientes frente a un costado de la iglesia... esta iglesia que estaba en la calle Carlos Pellegrini y Corrientes, a la Iglesia San Nicolás. Ahí en la calle Corrientes, frente al costado de la Iglesia San Nicolás. Porque la Iglesia San Nicolás daba al frente a la calle Carlos Pellegrini. Ahí estaba tocando Augusto Berto. Entonces le llevé 3 ejemplares y me dice: "Bueno, sientesé un momentito allí, lo vamos a tocar" y lo tocaron a primera vista, y fue el primero de las orquestas que tocó mi tango. Fue Augusto Berto. Así fue que pasó lo que usted me dice del primer tango "El espiante".

Oscar Del Priore: ¿Y "El once" cómo nació?
Osvaldo Fresedo: "El once"... nació... usted sabe, le tengo que contar cómo. Antes en los hospitales, en todos los hospitales, había estudiantes de medicina que se internaban en los hospitales, vivían en los hospitales. Tenían ahí su residencia había salas especiales donde ellos vivían en los hospitales. Cada hospital cuando llegaba la fiesta de los estudiantes el 21 de Septiembre, hacían un show, un acto. Y contrataban orquestas para esa fecha. Entonces cada orquesta que contrataban tenían la obligación de hacer un tango alusivo a esa fiesta. En el año 1918, creo que era... '18 o '19... '18 creo que era, si. Yo fui también a un baile. Entonces tuve que hacer un tango para el baile. Y como era el 6to baile del internado, hice el tango "El sexto". Ahora, cuando fue el undécimo baile del internado que también me contrataron con la orquesta... También tuve que hacer un tango. Entonces le puse bueno, "El once". Porque era el undécimo baile del internado...
Oscar Del Priore: Y fue el último
Osvaldo Fresedo: Y fue el último baile porque francamente en uno de esos hospitales, estaban los estudiantes internados. Alguien le hizo un chiste de mal gusto al rector, no sé cómo se dice a los que cuidaban los hospitales... este... se le metieron por la ventana disfrazados haciendo un chiste de mal gusto con armas y qué se yo, este hombre se despertó ofuscado, no sé quién fue, tiró un tiro y mató a un estudiante que se llamaba O'Farren. Desde ese momento se terminó el internado. Sacaron el internado de todos los hospitales y esos bailes de los estudiantes no se realizaron (nunca) jamás.
Ahora, ese tango "El once"... se estrenó, lo estrené en el undécimo baile de los internados, y francamente fue un tango improvisado. Porque a mí se me pasaba el tiempo y yo me olvidaba que había que hacer el tango. Y un día en el Abdullah Club entonces dije a Rizzuti y a los muchachos: "Por favor, en La mayor, siganmé que voy yo a improvisar". Y salí con la melodía del espian... de "El once", quiero decir. Salí con la melodía de "El once" y entonces yo les iba diciendo las tonalidades que iba pasando y así se hizo. Después lo escribí y en tres días salió impreso y se pudo repartir en el undécimo baile, undécimo y último baile del internado.

edited by C.Gatica 


edited by C.Gatica