Francisco Canaro

Francisco Canaro, stage name of Francisco Canarozzo, was born in San José de Mayo, Uruguay, on November 26, 1888. He was nicknamed “Pirincho” because, according to the family anecdote, when he was born the midwife exclaimed, upon seeing the shape of his hair, "It looks like a pirincho!", alluding to a crested bird typical of the Río de la Plata.


From a very early age, Canaro's family (of Italian origin) settled in Buenos Aires, where they lived in tenement houses (conventillos), in conditions of extreme poverty. Francisco had been working on the streets since before he was ten years old. His younger brother was the musician and orchestra director Rafael Canaro.


He built his first violin with his own hands, using oil containers from the factory where he worked. Said tin violin would help him start his career and earn enough money to buy a wooden one.


The first tango that he heard by ear was "El llorón", by an anonymous author, he would remember many years later. “My mother made the case for me (actually, a leather case), and I already went out to earn some money at neighborhood dances.”


In 1906 he began playing violin in a Tango trio. In 1908 he debuted at the Café Royal, located at that time at 1221 Necochea Street, in the Boca neighborhood. Without academic training, he was a talented self-taught person. In 1910 he had the opportunity to join the orchestra of Vicente Greco, who was his neighbor. They played in bars and dance halls for 6 years until 1916. Canaro would later recognize how much Greco's knowledge influenced him.


In 1912 Canaro began his transcendental work as a composer with the tangos "Pinta brava" and "Matasanos". After 1916, he founded his own group, with which he achieved great success at the local level.


In 1918 he fought for copyright, not recognized at that time, until culminating in the creation of the current SADAIC (Argentine Society of Authors and Composers of Music), founded in 1935, located at 1547 Lavalle Street in the Tribunales neighborhood, and whose building was built on land acquired by Canaro himself.


In 1922 he recorded his first album. It began in 1925 when the director of an artist booking agency, Amadeo Garesio, encouraged Canaro to appear in Paris, a city where tango was widely spread and where Manuel Pizarro's orchestra and the group headed by Genaro Espósito performed successfully. and Eduardo Blanco. Canaro traveled with his brothers, the bandoneonist Juan and the double bassist Rafael, the bandoneonist Carlos Marcucci, the pianist Fiorventi Di Cicco, the violinist Agesilao Ferrazzano and the drummer Romualdo Lo Moro.


The orchestra debuted on April 23, 1925 at the Dancing Florida, which was located in the lobby of the Apollo Theater, with its members wearing gaucho clothing (flowered blouse and chiripá, scarf, boots and even a dagger in their belt), because the performance Orchestras made up entirely of foreign musicians were only allowed if they constituted an “attraction number” justifying a special characteristic. To make the show even richer, Canaro had brought in the singer Teresa Asprela in Paris, who was dedicated to the genre of native music and had traveled with one of the musicians. In addition, she incorporated into the show the percussion of the saw by Rafael Canaro, the singing and whistling of the ensemble and the recitations of Martín Fierro by Canaro himself. The success was total, table reservations had to be made well in advance and he was invited to play with his orchestra at other select meetings. Due to this success, the tour continued visiting other countries such as Spain and the United States. The news of the triumph reached Argentina, mainly, through the chronicles of journalist Fernando Ortiz Echagüe, who was the representative of the newspaper La Nación.

In 1932 he returned to Buenos Aires, and began his stage as director and composer. In December of that year he recorded the "Hymno al Club Atlético River Plate", together with his Orquesta Típica. The Anthem, composed in 1918, carries the melody of It's a Long Way to Tipperary, while the lyrics were created by Arturo Antelo. He also composes his most notable tangos: “Se dice de mí” performed by the great Tita Merello, “Madreselva”, “Sentimiento gaucho” and “Envidia”. Canaro performed in various South American countries, such as Brazil, Uruguay and Chile.


Later, he also began writing scores for musical comedies. Such as “La chicada del centro” which was premiered at the El Nacional theater. Years later, the link with the theater saw the premieres of “The History of Tango” in 1941, “Sentimiento Gaucho” in 1942 and “Dos Corazóns” in 1944. The string of hits continued with “El tango en Paris” and other works later.


Francisco Canaro was one of the musicians who contributed most to the spread and popularity of tango internationally. In the 1960s he toured Japan with great repercussions. In his career, it is recorded that he recorded 7,000 tango albums.


The composer died in Buenos Aires on December 14, 1964, at 76 years of age.


In 2001, the adaptation of his musical composition “Se dice de mí” for the soap opera “Yo soy Betty”, la fea was nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best Song Written for an Audiovisual Medium performed by the Colombian Yolanda Rayo.