Monthly Archives: November 2020

Gran Hotel Victoria

For my second article I have chosen this tune, that almost every orquesta seems to have recorded. I shall be doing some unashamed plagiarizing here. It just means that if you have any problems with the facts, you can blame someone else.

For those who do not know the tune, here is my favourite version by Francisco Canaro (without the Gran); and here we have D’Arienzo (with the gran)

You can spend hours on Youtube looking into this tune, I am sure you will find your favourite does not agree with mine.

There is an Hotel Victoria in Buenos Aires, on the corner of Alsina and San Jose, but this is not it, as you will see. That one also is also not very Grand.

The historian from Córdoba, Efraín Bischoff, says a different thing. He affirms it is a tango from Córdoba which was composed by Feliciano Latasa for the opening on January 4, 1906 of the enlargement of the Gran Hotel Victoria which was run by Pascual Andruet on 133 San Martín Street in the city of Córdoba».

We shall present a short biography of the composer or, maybe rather, alleged composer of the piece. Pianist and violinist, Latasa was born in San Sebastián —Guipúzcoa, Spain— on September 25, 1870 and settled in the city of Rosario, province of Santa Fe, at the dawn of the twentieth century. At that city he led the orchestra of the Sociedad España and the Orfeón Gallego.

When in Córdoba he appeared at the Club Democrático España and at the Roma and Victoria hotels leading his orchestra lined up by José Ferreras and Cristóbal Boday (violins), José Aguilar (flute), José Guisado (clarinet), Ernesto Di Blasi (trombone) and J. Macia Granja (bass). He composed the tango “Gran Hotel Victoria” (Hotel Victoria), the chotis “Carmencita”, the zarzuelas “Risas y lágrimas” and “Celeste”, and, according to Vicente Gesualdo, numerous dancehall pieces, chotis, mazurcas, polkas, waltzes, pas de quatre, etc. He died in Córdoba on September 18, 1906 when he was nearing age 36.

This is taken from an article in Look it up if you have time, there is a lot more interesting stuff in there.

The Hotel itself has had many refurbishments. It is built in a conventillo arrangement and now has a roof over the central courtyard with a lift to the upper floors standing in the corner. We visited in 2014 but only managed this one picture.

It had just completed another refurbishment when we there and the staff were more than happy for us to look around.

As I always say, if you have any issues with what I have said here, please comment, I am always happy to hear other views.



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Milonga Sentimental

I have been asked to write about a weekly tango tune, to help us through these hard times. I will research as much as I can, but please forgive any errors or omissions. Any you spot you can post in the comments and I will try to correct my mistakes.

People often ask “Why milonga” and why is the event the same as the dance. I will try to answer that here.

Long long ago in the days before Rap music even in the days before Tango people met up to create music. Now in old Buenos Aires it started with people creating songs to the same tune. Where they met was called a milonga and so the tune was also a milonga. Milonga is an old African word for words. So we think this was started by African immigrants or possibly slaves. Slavery was not completely abolished here until 1861.

This carried on for a time span that is largely unknown. Then along came a guy called Carlos Gardel. He may be French born or not, but we know for certain his mother was and he spent his formative years in a house behind the Abasto Centre around Almagro.

Now Homero Manzi wrote the words for Milonga Sentimental and needed it putting to music. He asked a guy called Sebastian Piana to do this for him. Now Sebastian was a bit of a rebel and did not want to simply copy everyone else. So he went across the Rio De la Plata to Uruguay and listened to their candombe rhythms. He wrote a tune with the same catchy beat and fitted it to the words. So here was born the milonga, but it would probably would have gone no further without Carlos Gardel.

Now Carlos Gardel was the most famous tango singer of the time, he heard this new tune and rhythm and made a record of it. The rest, they say, is history.

The song has gone down through the years having many iterations. I do not intend to list them all here (It would take a book ) My favourite recent one is Miguel Di Genova’ s Otros Aires. If you listen there is a cameo from the Carlos himself at the end.

Much of my knowledge on this comes from Christine Dennison, other references are Wikipedia and much I have absorbed through osmosis.

As I say if you have any issues with what is written here. please comment. I don’t profess to be the font of all knowledge and am always open to corrections.

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