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Enrique Santos Discépolo, the sad harlequin who continues to bite

For some, a mistongo philosopher of tango; for others, a lunfardesco surrealist poet, Discépolo put words to the world of “insolent evil”, and actions when he felt it was time to “bury misery”.

Enrique Santos Discépolo

It was a full night at the Sarmiento Theatre.   La Negra Bozán starred the sainete “What do we do with the stadium”. Along with “Chorra” premiered “Yira Yira”, a tango by an almost debut composer, better known as Armando's brother, Enrique Santos Discépolo. A few years before I had failed with “Qué vaché”, even though Tita Merello sang it at the Teatro Apolo, and even recorded it   Carlos Gardel,   impressed by the electricity of young Henry during a meeting in the dusty theaters of the provinces.   It was October 16, 1930, a few weeks after the reactionaries immersed the country in the long night of horror that ran agale in 1976. There was a rumor from the bottom with female voices, Discépolo would remember. And that rumor became the hurricane that would best define the corrupt, and hopeless decade of the thirties “You'll see everything is lie/You'll see nothing is love/that the world cares nothing/   Yira, Yira” was not only cynicism and hopelessness, as some would interpret on the surface. It was also a cry of humanity to a world that needed more than promises that men would not be alone and wait.   120 years ago, on March 27, the Narigón, Discepolin, Mordisquito was born, a piece of the porteña soul that whistles in every corner, in every greeting to a neighbor.

  “From my childhood I have few memories. Rather, I prefer not to keep them. I had a sad childhood,” said in 1927 Discépolo about a childhood with a brilliant Neapolitan musician father, who fails again and again, inspiration from Armando Discépolo's “Stefano”,   and that the sick and lonely Enrique suffered from house to house, cobblestone on cobblestone on which he was tattooed Buenos Aires, “I could never say that of “cachurra monta la donkey”, nor did I find any attraction in playing balls... lived isolated and taciturn... at five years I was an orphan of your father, and before I was nine, I lost my mother. Then my shyness became scary and my sadness misadventure.   I remember that among the school supplies I had a small globe. I covered it with a black cloth and didn't uncover it again. It seemed to me that the world should look like this forever, dressed in mourning”,   it topped in a kind of visionary synthesis of discepolean philosophy. A perfect combination of his teenage readings of subsoil writers, especially Russians, Dostoevsky, first, and French symbolists, in a street interverum of cafes and milongas from Piazza Once to Parque Patricios and Floresta.

His brother tried in vain a teaching career for Enrique, who was doing the   rabona   to read Almafuerte and Baudelaire. The arts were his unwaived vocation, before acting than music, Discépolo always scored “actor” rather than “composer” in his documents. During his life he never wrote a score, he needed musicians of the greatness of Mariano Mores, “I never stopped being an actor. Precisely, my author's work I saw it more than anything from the interpreter's plane,” Rescues Noemí Ulla, “And the same thing happened to me with my tangos. Almost all are conceived and made on the basis of one type. Being in Europe, I have come to recite them as an actor, suppressing music,” admitted the composer of “Martyrdom”, who would never stop playing a “guzla”, a poor instrument of a string on a can of oil, and which he kept until his death.

With less than twenty premieres his first theatrical piece “Los Duendes” at the Teatro Nacional de los Podestá, and integrates the company of Blanca Podestá. He begins his fundamental link with Uruguayan journalist Roberto Tálice, who broadens his intellectual horizons, and makes friends with popular circles of artists and bohemia, in particular with the Boedo Group and the Artists of the People of La Boca. During a tour of his brother's company, the premiere of “Mateo”, where Enrique performed and also wrote, co-author of “El organito”, germ del grotesque in the national theatre, composed in a hotel in San José del Uruguay his first tango in 1924,”   Biscochito”, “Vos Maleva sous/what you give/vice, love and perdition” in an anticipation of the representation of love in Discépolo, saves or destroys you   . It goes unnoticed as its sainetes, and tangos later, until in 1928 Azucena Maizani transforms into success “Tonight I get drunk”, “This encounter has done me so bad/That if I think more I end poisonao”, again fishing in the air the suicidal climate of the thirties, Leopoldo Lugones, Horacio Quiroga, Alfonsina Storni, among so many notables from a gloomy end of the period. That consecration night at the Teatro Maipo, and the relationship with a cosmopolitan Spanish cupletist, fashionable in Buenos Aires, Anita Luciano or, the best known Tania, began an upstairs that would have triumphant applause closed on the night of the   Negra Bozán immortalizing “Yira Yira” Just at the moment tango claimed a renewal, Discépolo links the lights and shadows Olympic like no one. And as no one raises his finger accusing and social critic, Discépolo, one of our great Argentine moral masters, along with Roberto Arlt and Raúl Scalabrini Ortiz.  

Enrique Santos Discépolo


  Buenos Aires has its eternal poet  

They say that once the huge Homero Manzi entered the mythical Tropezón of Callao Avenue and from the table they shout “there comes the poet of Buenos Aires” And the santiagueño, lyricist of “Malena” and “South”, two monuments of Buenos Aires poetry, asks:   “What happened to Discépolo? “And Enrique had a tear, it was what he needed, as he began to feel how those who had raised him for his talent in tango, theater and cinema, now stoned him ruthlessly for his adherence to Peronism   . But let us return to his most creative steps with Tania, the devilish muse, and at the moment tango finds its poets on the roads opened by Celedonio Flores, not only with the popular language, but with a reflective and metaphysical capacity that was applied in 1930.   And in 2021 and 3000, too, “the character of my tangos is Buenos Aires, the city. Some sensitivity and a little observation have given matter to my lyrics... a tango can be written with a finger, but with the soul; a tango is the intimacy that hides and it is the cry that rises naked”,   says Discépolo, who gets successes with “Victoria! ”, “Confession”, “Just 31” and “I am a harlequin”, “I am a harlequin, /A harlequin who sings and dances/To hide/His heart full of sorrow”

”   I write tangos because I'm attracted to their rhythm. I am sorry with the intensity of very few other things,” admitted Discépolo, in perhaps the only musical influence of Father Santo,   “Its synthesis is a challenge that causes me and which I accept pleased, even from the bad times he spent making it. Say so many things in such a short space! How difficult and how cute! That fight subjugates me. They say I sacrifice the melodic line in homage to the lyrics, and they're in a mistake. I try to break the musical image drawn. I'm required by a need. I want music to say what will then clarify the words even more”, defended at the beginning of the thirties, a composer who without knowing music revolutionized the Buenos Aires song, in forms close to American blues and jazz, as Sergio Pujol, Disc& eacute; polo admirer of Gershwin -from this source there is a step to Argentine rock -   For those years he not only faced music criticism but also censorship in the mass media, which began in the last year of Yrigoyen's presidency, and which demands to remove from the repertoire of popular singers his compositions for the lyrical lunfardesca,   “if my country, cosmopolitan and Babylonian, groping words daily, understands them, and I need them, I link them full of joy;   our lunfardo has great phonetic hits. They want to kill him. They make laugh. If they are neglected, he's going to swallow the Academy, go right! ”   , exclaimed of a situation that would only be overcome in 1949, and for his personal relationship with Evita and General Perón.

The first part of the decade the Discépolo, Tania and Enrique, are part of the Buenos Aires night, which is extinguished slowly as the repression increases -and the picana of the son of Lugones-, and premiere musical comedies with several tangos, “Candy assorted”, “My songs” and the adaptation of the german operetta”   Wunder Bar”, a protagonist tailored to Enrique, “knows that today's life is horrible... recommends oblivion, and joy, but not ignorance”   And before the departure   Gardel   to European fame, and Hollywood, together film one of the famous frames, advances of video clips: an explained version of “Yira Yira”, “a man who has lived 40 years the beautiful hope of fraternity”

The Discépolos leave on December 11, 1934 on a long European tour, with an apotheotic farewell at Luna Park, but before he left the songs for Mario Soffici's film “Soul de bandoneón” several tangos, including “Cambalache”, which was not only an instant hit in the country of negotiated and the proscription of the masses, Argentina, but also swept in Republican Spain, “like a fine and persistent drizzle, tango soaks in the long run, soaks” On his return he returns as an actor in the company of Armando, despite the suspicion of his older brother every time again with Tania, although the world of cinema captures his attention by writing, or directing, “Four Hearts” or “Capricious and Millionaire”, flimsy films that are quickly forgotten. It would be necessary to wait   “El fancha” (1951), with his plot and interpretation, and co-direction with Manuel Romero, to immerse himself in the discepolean universe film version, a seventh art that according to Ulises Petit de Murat, the author of “Song desperada”, did not fully understand, “no understood the relentless succession of a thousand two hundred figurines... multiplied in anecdotes... did not appear the don- of Discepolin which he could ignite - with his words - the darkest night, until dawn”   By the forties, Discépolo was a living legend of Buenos Aires culture, a national tango treasure, in a mythical urban postcard that would only collect   Hannibal Troilo   -who would eternally regret not having composed a topic with Enrique, to whom he would dedicate “Discepoline” with Manzi.


  Mordisquito, one of the first victims of the Crack  

Distanced from Tania affectively and literally, he lived for a while in Mexico — and there are indications that he had a son with Aztec actress and journalist Raquel Díaz de León-, in a turbulent time until his definitive return in 1947, a little to recover the love of his muse, another for the union activities in the brand new SADAIC - Argentine Society of Authors and Composers of Music - and finally, in open adherence to Peronism.   Discépolo became a kind of counselor to Eva Perón, who appreciated a solidarity gesture when   she was an unknown actress on Radio Belgrano   -a generous and detached trait that characterized Discépolus, who helped without looking at whom; in another similarity with Pichuco Troilo.   It stands out in this period tango with Mores, “Without words”, “Without saying this song will say your name, /Without saying it with your name will be yo. /The almost blind eyes of my amazement, /Along with the amazement of losing yourself and not dying”, a dented declaration of love that goes from Buenos Aires to Mexico City. And obviously with Mores, “Uno,” do you need to transcribe the lyrics? It should be the national anthem...”   Cafetín de Buenos Aires” from 1948, again with Marianito, is the last tango released in life.  

These are the times that Discépolo feels that the “dark background of living” begins to change, the taba changes for the “tenants -of the conventillo- who inhabited a world where the tacho was a trophy and the rat a pet”, and diminishes in his artistic production, except for a new letter for the & nbsp; classic “El choclo”, at the request of Libertad Lamarque, one of the few artists who did not turn his face. But it was an exception of old friends who did not cross sideways, or boycotted his show “Blum! ”, something that was accentuated with the radio columns of Mordisquito, and in support of the candidacy for Perón's second presidency.   In vain Discépolo tried to excuse himself and came out from the same chambers of the theater, already with symptoms of a disease that could not be discerned or diagnosed. Infinite sadness in the man who was the voice of a People, showed his wounds and wounds, but who could not bear his own   “You who are able to cry screaming with a slave film and have been watching him die next to you” argued with a “contrera” Mordisquito, who in the ironies? of destiny ended up being another synonym of Discepoline”   I'm so skinny that injections have to give me on the coverall,” Brominated Enrique who ended up weighing 37 kilos. He lived on whiskey and garlic. He died just after midnight on December 23, 1951.   Among the unfinished tangos, “Message”, “Anrajos”, “Un Cain”, was “Fangal”, that the Expósito brothers finished shaping it, “I was a gil, because I thought that there I invented honor, /a gil who raised a tomato and believed it a flower. /And I keep gil/when I presume that I saved love, /since she was/who broke my sorrows... I went back to the filth of living tirao. Gee! /If at least I was grouped that I saved her!... ”

”   I shouted the pain of many, not because the pain of others makes me happy, but because that way I am closer to them. And I translate that silence of anguish that I guess”,   emphasized the artist with a soul full of Pueblo. Discepoline, so that the immorals won't beat us.


Sources: Ulla, N.   Tango, Rebellion and Nostalgia   . Buenos Aires: Editorial Jorge Alvarez. 1967; Pujol, S.   Discépolo. An Argentine biography   . Buenos Aires: Emecé. 1997; Ferrer, H. Sierra, L.   Discepolin   . Buenos Aires: South American. 2004; Galasso, N.   Discépolo and his time.   Buenos Aires: Corregidor 2004

Publication Date: 27/03/2021

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