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Carlos Gardel, getting closer

Walter Santoro presents the Carlos Gardel International Foundation, Created by the heirs of the artist, protects, protects and investigates the legacy of the Creole Thrush

Anyone can use the “Sos Gardel” or “andá santarle a Gardel” and not know the life of this exceptional artist, and his contribution to Argentine cultural history. No one should not know the relationship between Buenos Aires, Tango and Gardel. However, Argentina does not yet have a powerful institution that aggregates and differs knowledge, and feelings, towards the “Mudo”. It is true that there are houses and museums, and tango institutions, but squalid before a myth, a genius, that transcends borders.  Next to Evita's mausoleum, Gardel's vault becomes a witness of universal gratitude every day.In 2020, Gardelian year, 130 years after its birth, the legacy of the “Morocho del Abasto” forces us to ask ourselves what we are doing, and how we care for future generations,  living memory of a country. 

“ My story, like most Argentines, is close to the big names that preceded us and who, through his works, are today an active part of our identity as Argentines, Jorge Luis Borges, Ástor Piazzolla and, above all, Carlos Gardel,” says Walter Santoro, director executive of the Carlos Gardel International Foundation, “whenever I listened to these names they were for me being Argentine. Since 2006 I have been working on the rescue of our identity, through different actions and projects.  But since the artist's successors honored me with the request to create the foundation, my commitment was affirmed through Gardel in pursuit of the rescue of national values, and those that make us who  we're like Argentines   .  Something fundamental to our existence as a society, present and future. My work is based on the Quinquelian idea that we must give back a little everything that society gave us ,” says the businessman who with the Argentine Cultural Industries Foundation in the two thousand revalued national artists with Mainz, Museo del Papel y el Engravado , and that milestone of the megaexhibition at the Quinquela Museum about the great boquense artist, Benito Quinquela Martín.

“ With my own museum I learned a lot about management in culture, posed as a company, not for profit, but as a way to preserve everyone's heritage,” says Santoro, who in six years in La Boca summoned 35,000 children, and explains, “Many people confuses company with trade. But company has to do with the projection of a proposal, not only with pockets . From that experience I understood how the foundation can achieve a concrete sustenance in preservation and diffusion, and conquering the technological tools of the latest generation . In this sense we are very much along the lines of Carlos Gardel who was a great entrepreneur.  Without advisors, no means or institutions to support him, nothing exists today, Gardel was the architect of his life and triumphed, just like Maradona.  They both managed to be world-renowned professionals, and popular idols for their accomplishments,” says Walter, a man dedicated to culture for family passion to books and art, “He says somewhere in the Bible, that one has to devote to God one hour a week.I also think that one should devote an hour, or a day of the week, to reflect on the society in which you live. We would have a better future,” he ends.

Journalist: How is your link with cultural management and, more specifically, Tango born?

Walter Santoro: I always thought it essential to know our history, our culture, axes of belonging to this society. That is why in 2005 I decided to create the Fundación Industrias Culturales Argentinas, to work on different programs related to culture and the rescue of heritage.

As president of the museum's cooperative Quinquela, and preparing a mega-show about the life of this exceptional artist and his relationship with Juan de Dios Filiberto, he looked for photographs of them together. So I got in touch with one of the most important tango collectors, Bruno Cespi, who generously provided me with the photos. That had been my first approach to that world, months later he contacted me through a bookseller friend, Hamlet Peluso, renowned Gardelian collector, who, after several conversations, offers me to sell his collection, in very particular conditions, which later for reasons of fate could not be able to concretize. A third call a year later allowed me to acquire the most important tango collection belonging to the late Ángel Oliveri, a treasure of more than 20,000 objects in the history of tango, many of them corresponding to Carlos Gardel.  I bought these precious pieces, believing that I would quickly convince the authority of the City, or Nation, to create the Tango Museum. Fact that I could not achiever to date.  

The collections were increasing over time, I acquired four other collections and many objects of people, which I could not define them as collectors, forming one of the most important tango collections in the world.  Today I protect approximately 42,000 objects, of which 5000 correspond to Carlos Gardel. 

In this collection Gardel is not all personal belongings of him. There are dozens of first-run records of the singer (or test records), photographs, several autographed, and other files.  We can talk about the collection in two parts, one of objects about Gardel, and another about objects belonging to Gardel .  Of this second, I estimate that some 1700 original pieces are made up in total, which are mostly those that were in the possession of its representative, Armando Defino. 

 A heritage, a legacy of Gardel to discover


Q: Is the Carlos Gardel International Foundation born there?

WS: But to talk about the International Gardel Foundation, we must first mention other facts, as was my intervention in the dispute over the mausoleum in La Chacarita in 2017. The vault was in a state of abandonment, with the coffins molded, due to terrible reforms in the ventilation system. After a rough dispute between Gardelians, they asked me to intervene in the conflict, and to take sides. I told everyone I was going to take sides just for Gardel. After several months of fights without solutions I decided to look for Carlos Gardel's successors. Fortuny, she had reached the ears of Nuria and Maria Ana Cortada de Fortuny, legitimate heirs to Armando Defino, some of the works she had done since the Foundation. They quickly supported the claim to recover the mausoleum and put it into condition.  To avoid continuing with the cumbersome procedures required from the cemeteries management in La Chacarita, and seeing my background in culture, they entrusted me with the Gardelian legacy, yielding by public deed all the rights inherited from Gardel, his mother and his friend and executor Armando Defino, in free of charge, with the commitment to create the foundation to keep its legacy and history alive. 

This transfer substantially increased the collection by adding above all documentation, which had been kept in a heritage limbo for 70 years in a house in Rio Ceballos, Córdoba.

Months later, the Carlos Gardel International Foundation was born, which was presented in society in the Buenos Aires Legislature on September 3, 2019. On the same day we inaugurated the website, which for reasons of practicality about the name is accessed as Fundación Carlos Gardel ( ), and we started with the preparations of the Gardelian years 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Q: What are the plans for these special years?

WS: We had organized from the creation of a Gardelian radio, with live programs, to the opening of venues in other parts of the world. With the pandemic we were only able to sign  an agreement with one of the most important publishers in the country for the publication of five books on Carlitos , which are progressing very well fortunately. The first book will be the life of Carlos Gardel in images, a new biography with all the new documentation, which was rescued from the house of Cordoba, and revealing totally unknown details that complement current investigations. We will also republish unattainable books such as that of Armando Defino, or the life of Gardel-Razzano by Francisco García Jimenez, essential because they transcribe sources firsthand. Everything that was written afterwards comes from them.

Q.  You launched the publications with “Gardel, sinister flight. The true story of the plane crash, Medellín 24 June 1935” by Mauricio and Manuela Umana (2019) 

WS: Since Mauricio learns by the Caracol chain in Colombia in 2014 of the discovery of the accident records, hidden in a mezzanine of the University of Medellín since 1938, He travels to see the file, but at first they deny him the chance. It happens after they didn't have how to saygitalize the nine bodies, 7,000 pages, and there we offered ourselves with the condition of a digital copy. Then our book contains this completely unpublished information plus a censored text by the lawyer of the German airline, which the Colombian authorities wanted to imblame. It had never come to light and we incorporated it into an absolutely original contribution. 

 This book is part  of the foundation's commitment  to telling an official Gardel story backed by reliable historical documents. It is a mission that is given as the  legitimate heirs within the succession.  

Another is to obtain a physical space to share part of the thousands of Gardelian pieces, and that it is also a space for reflection and dissemination of scholars, young people and foreigners alike.

 Gardel sings for you in the 21st century  

Q: Among the Foundation's projects there is a new remastering of recordings with new WS technologies

: The theme is a bit more complex. A very interesting thing is that contemporary people to Gardel, who heard him sing live, complained that the recordings were not faithful. Directly they said that wasn't Gardel. The difference was basically that there was a recording speed, and another playback speed. In addition, one could adjust to sound sharper or more serious, and according to how the lever moved, he could correct the speed of the revolutions, at 33 (most-minus) or 78 (most-minus) revolutions, and that altered the audio.

One advantage of pasta records was that they had only one song per face, three to four minutes, against a vinyl that has ten songs per side.So the information on a pasta disc is much higher. The Foundation has the complete collection of the discs, with the attribute that are unspoiled; this means that we can not only capture all the information recorded in the groove, but also suppress the famous frying noise, which is nothing more than the wear of the groove.

In 2019 we contacted Sony Music Argentina, successor to the famous RCA Victor, and Universal Music company, successor to Odeón, owners of Carlos Gardel's phonographic rights, and offered him to re-record from the original pasta discs, with special English spikes. And better yet, through the calibration of the guitar's LA, we have just the right speed to hear your voice crisp, and correct, it's amazing! Listening to it like this is as close to the live, even you hear clear breathing and strumming. Soon exclusively for we will tell more details .

Sony Music was working on a very good new campaign called “More Tango please”, and the idea was to relaunch several artists of the genre starting in Gardel. We had planned to remaster about a hundred tangos. Something similar in quality to the remastering of his films, which we started together with the Cinemateca Argentina about American films. Today we are working on the first French films. The Foundation has the only 35mm copies of feature films that exist in the world.

Q: What is Gardel still telling us in the 21st century?

WS:  Gardel is the Argentinean who paved the way for the rest of the tangueros and, why not, the Argentines . He was the first ambassador of our culture to the world. And he only had a lot of passion, talent, few contacts and no money. Gardel was the architect of his destiny without having anyone to mark him a way. Without an image advisor, he knew how to always be impeccable. Without studying singing, he was the creator of a style, which today the world identifies as tango.

That, more than 85 years after his death, a foundation that honors this legacy has not been created, speaks very badly about us Argentines and how we protect our identity. It is true that your memory to date as well asor its story, was written and supported by the passion of thousands of Gardelians, but in the times we live I think it is not enough, and much more matters to work on an official story, supported by the artist's successors.

There is no country if there is no society with memory. Today we are a kind of uprooted islands, with very little in common among us. We're just looking for that unity, that belonging Gardel gave us with his art. If we understand that SADAIC - Argentine Society of Authors and Composers of Music is created - one year after his death, that Carlitos built its own producer in the United States to bring our culture to the world and that he dreamed of founding film studios in Uruguay and Argentina, among several cultural projects and...Aacute; s,  we should recognize a Gardel who keeps talking to us with a heart that felt Argentine. 

Rating: 5.00/5.