Orquesta Típica Julia de Caro

Tango is music, too

Julio de Caro

11.12.1899 - 11.03.1980



Tango revolutioner

Number of recordings:


Mala junta - Sexteto Julio De Caro - 1927

Here you find a good discography: La Milonga di Alvin



complex, dynamical, rhythmical, playful, expressiv


fresh, surprising


expressiv soli of the violin

Biggest hits:

El monito (1928) , Boedo (1928), Tierra querida (1927), Saca chispas (1938, Milonga)


Luis Díaz, Héctor Farrel

Important musicians:


Still in 1936 Pedro Laurenz, Pedro Maffia, Julio and Francisco de Caro were voted best musicians by the readers of the newspaper Sinfonía for the all-star orchestra Los Vírtuosos.

D'Arienzo is credited with the fact that without him, the boundless dance enthusiasm of the 1940s, which made possible the existence of all our beloved orchestras, would not have taken place.


But without the musical innovations that Julio de Caro's sextet developed in the 1920s, the tango would be a different one.


Without De Caro, Demare, Laurenz, Troilo and Pugliese would sound different.


Who were these young men who pushed the tango forward? What was so new, so different, that tango music is divided into a time before and after De Caro?

De Caro's trademark was a so-called straw or cornett violin. In times without electric amplification, musicians appreciated it for its assertiveness. Julio received his violin from the president of his American record company RCA-Victor when he visited his stars in Argentina.

Nostalgias - 1936 - Instrumental


El tango también es música

Julio was the second of twelve siblings in an extremely musical family with Italian roots. The status-conscious father, director of a music centre, ambitiously trained his children in classical music and envisaged a university career for them.


Julio, rather weak and ailing, learned the violin, his brother Francisco, two years older, who was also a successful boxer, the piano. But the tango thwarted his father's plans. In the summer of 1917, Julio played at a concert by the star of the time, Roberto Firpo. Firpo agreed and was thrilled.


After a few guest appearances with other tango orchestras, Julio decided to go for the new folk music. His father broke with him, and a short time later the brothers Francisco and Emilio also exchanged the security of the parental home for the adventurous life in the just emerging world of tango.


What luck for the music. The De Caro brothers enriched the tango with their excellent musical education. They wanted to prove to the world, and probably to their father, that tango is not just a dance rhythm, but can be just as sophisticated as European classical compositions.


"El tango también es musica! - Tango is music, too" was the battle cry Julio based his work on.


On the way to the avant-garde

Between 1918 and 1923, both Julio and Francisco played in changing formations with the best musicians of the time. Often, however, they had to settle for odd jobs.


In December 1923, Francisco de Caro surprisingly received a tempting offer: 800 pesos per evening for a sextet to play in the houses of aristocrats at the end of the year.


Francisco needed musicians. He immediately ran to the Güemes department stores. Bandoneonist Pedro Maffia was playing there in the café on the 14th floor, while Luis Petrucelli was part of a gypsy band with his bandoneon on the ground floor. Both were immediately on fire. Francisco's brothers Julio and Emilio joined them with their violins. The young men knew each other. They were all excellent musicians. They had spent together a success time in the sextet of the pianist Cobián until he sought his fortune in the USA in mid-1923. And therefore they also convinced the upper class with their skills.


Their music, but also their elegant appearance in dinner jackets and bow ties, they helped the tango to gain even more recognition. The troupe was now so popular that Leopoldo Thompson, the most innovative bass player at the time, joined them. They were to shape the musical development of the next few years.


In the spring of 1925, the 'young savages' were hired for the astronomical sum of 6,000 pesos a month to play at the Palais de Glace at the dance teas of the rich.


Because Julio, who showed the most entrepreneurial spirit, advertised the orchestra under his name, Petrucelli left. Maffia only stayed because of his immense gambling debts.


The young Pedro Laurenz stepped in at the last second. As a big fan of the sextet, he knew most of the bandoneon passages. The lucrative contract was saved, they had made it. Soon after they even represented the tango at the biggest social event of the time, the legendary visit of the Prince of Wales in 1925.


Between the end of 1924 and the end of 1928 they pressed almost 140 numbers on shellac, at that time compositions such as Copacobana (1927), Amurado (1927), Tierra Querida (1927), Mala Junta (1927), El Monito (1928) or Boedo (1928) were created. And Pugliese's grandiose Recuerdo (1926) was also part of the repertoire.

Recuerdo - 1926 - Instrumental


In the big, wide world

In 1931, the sextet set off for Europe.

In Nice, Turin, Rome and Paris they met people as different as Mussolini, Charlie Chaplin, Fritz Kreisler or Aga Khan. In Paris, they earned the unimaginable sum of 800,000 francs in one and a half months.

With their elegant, distinguished appearance, they freed the tango from the folkloristic image of the pampas that had been attached to it until then.

The stars crowned their stay in the Old World with an appearance in Carlos Gardel's tango film Luces de Buenos Aires (1931), which was being filmed in Europe.


The symphonic tango

When the musicians returned from Europe in 1932, they had to deal with many ecomomical and social problems. With the rising of the talking movies, the tango sextets of the 1920s lost an essential source of income. The economic crisis in the wake of Black Friday in 1929 did the rest.


Despite the difficult environment, De Caro enlarged his orchestra and continued to experiment. With a show on the history of the tango, which was spiced up with step dancers, he was successful throughout the country in 1932.


In 1934, De Caro appeared with a small symphony orchestra. With even more demanding compositions and arrangements, he wanted to finally raise the music to the level of jazz and classical music.


Woodwinds and brass, harp and percussion contributed to the symphonic sound.


Derecho viejo is spiced with experiments and surprises.

The brothers more and more worked with professional arrangers, paving the way for both the more complex music of the 1940s orchestras and the sound experiments of Fresedo, Sassone or Piazzolla.


With wild arrangements and unusual instrumentation, the brothers expanded the boundaries of the genre. This rich instrumentation is well heard in the wild Milonga De contrapunto (1936).


At the end of the 1930s, the De Caro brothers also followed the D'Arienzo revolution and played more traditional and uptempo music that was easy to dance to.


In the most popular phase of the dance boom, the orchestra only partially succeeded in implementing the trends. In particular, the instrumentalist de Caro failed to integrate good singers into his orchestra.

After a break in recording from 1943 to 1949, new recordings of his classics were made from 1949 onwards.


De Caro ended his career as a tango musician in 1954.


The innovations

Why did fans flock to the Select Lavalle silent cinema in the late 1920s to hear the sextet, no matter what film was playing?

Why did the musicians have to play the same piece over and over again because the audience was so enthusiastic?

Francisco, Emilio and Julio De Caro all had classical musical training, Pedro Laurenz and Pedro Maffia were among the best bandoneon players, and the bassists Leopoldo Thompson and later Enrique Krauss were extremely innovative.

The compositions, the arrangements, the use of the individual instruments were more complex, more interwoven. The sextet practised and rehearsed and honed tirelessly. Julio and Francisco De Caro and Pedro Maffia even lived together at times.


Excellent musicians

Only through constant experimentation and improvement did the sextet achieve the so far unheard dynamics, a common swell and decay, and artfully incorporated rubatos, i.e. delays and accelerations.


The pianist Francisco not only played the beat together with the bass, as was customary at the time, but he also designed small solos, connected phrases through interludes and tonal embellishments.


Pedro Maffia and Pedro Laurenz delighted their audience with polished, fast bandoneon solos at the end of the pieces, the so-called variaciones. They refined the bandoneon technique of arrastres, i.e. the swelling of notes.


Complex arrangements

The arrangements let the melody wander back and forth between the instruments, the compositions contained countermelodies that built harmonically on the first melody played softer or plucked.


Key changes and more complicated harmonic sequences expanded the musical possibilities.


New playing techniques

It was not only Leopold Thompson on bass who developed new, percussive playing techniques such as hitting with the bow, stroking the back of the bass or clapping and drumming on the bass body.

All six musicians elicited as many effects as possible from their instruments, which are called yeites. They tapped their instruments, the violinists stroked or struck the sides behind the bridge, added glissandos, trills and vibrato.

The tango of the De Caro brothers is always very lively and playful, despite all the musical demands. In the recordings, one discovers shared laughter, roars and whistles, the whine of a saw and even the popping of corks.


The music

Most of the recordings were made in the 1920s and early 1930s, before the great tango boom of the 1940s.


This music has energy, dynamics and complex structures - despite or because of its musical richness, it is sometimes more uncomfortable for dancers and is relatively rarely played today.

That's a pity, because some of it has an energy all its own, but there's just so much else to play.



De Caro recorded his instrumental classics such as Tierra querida, Boedo, El monito, Mala junta or Copacobana three times, each with a very different character: first at the end of the 1920s full of musical ideas, then energetic and wild around 1940 and again smoother after 1950.

After 1936 were created fast tangos full of swing with the singers Héctor Farrel and Luis Díaz such as Fuego (1938), 1937 (1938) and Mariposa (1940).




Sacas chispas (1938) and De contrapunta (1936) are unusual milongas with unusual arrangements. The interpretation of the classic No hay tierra como la mia (1939) is also impressive.


Sorpresa de novia, Celoso por ti, Tu nombre or Esmeralda are valses full of energy!


Orquesta típica Julio de Caro
1931 in the Gardel-movie Luces de Buenos Aires

Saca Chispas
Clarisa Aragon and Jonathan Saavedra – Bratislava 2018

No me pidas exclusiva
Hector Farrel 1941