Orquesta Típica
Juan D'Arienzo

El Rey del Compás


Juan D'Arienzo

14.12.1900  +14.01.1976


rhythm machine

Number of recordings:

ca. 1000

To buy:

1935 to 1939 and much more:


Don Xello of tangotunes also offers a lot of tunes of the Sixties wie the great singer Osvaldo Ramos.

1940 to 1949: www.tangotimetravel.be did a good job on transfering files of this period.

1955 live on TV


A nice discography is offered by La Milonga di Alvin.


rhythmical, emphasis on all four beats, powerful piano, violin solos on the lowest string

Biggest hit:

La Cumparsita (1943)

This disc with the milonga La Puñalada an the b-side
was sold over 17 Mio. times!

Important Singers:

- Alberto Echagüe

- Hector Mauré

- Armando Laborde
- Osvaldo Ramos

Important musicians:

- Piano: Rodolfo Biagi, Juan Polito, Fulvio Salamanca

- Bandoneon: Hector Varela

- Violin: Cayetano Puglisi

El Rey del Compás

It was Juan D'Arienzo who - in 1936 - revolutionized tango in Buenos Aires. It's said, that he put tango back on the feet, that he turned listeners to tango dancers. Without him the golden decade of tango (1936 to 1945) would not exist.

What had happend?

The tango world mourned. The tragic death of Carlos Gardel still was a shock. In recent years, tango was mainly listened to and not so much danced to. Many orchestras tended to play more quietly and ponderously, more symphonically, very refined or, in the tradition of Julio de Caro, musically complex, academic. One enjoyed tango canción with guitar accompaniment, heard tango in the cinema, in the theater.

And then D'Arienzo electrified the city. Why did young Porteños flock to his performances at the Cabaret Chantecler, why did fans all over the country gather in front of the radios when the 'Rey del Compás' rocked the just-opened radio station Radio El Mundo?

D'Arienzo's repertoire was traditional, many pieces were from the Guardia Vieja period, before 1920, but he arranged them in a modern way, fresh, cheerful, nervous and with great energy. And he played faster. Above all, his tangos built on a snappier rhythmic foundation, a staccato beat that emphasized all four beats almost like a metronome, whereas most orchestras marked only the 1st and 3rd beats. His fan base grew. He was named Rey del Compás, king of the beat.

Rodolfo Biagi - Manos Bruchas

But one has to know that it was especially the piano player Rodolfo Biagi who contributed to this rhythmic revolution. He was an old acquaintance of D'Arienzo, and from the end of 1935 on he replaced the previous, often unreliable pianist.

Biagi simply played bolder, more unpredictable, more syncopated. His wild interludes between phrases are unique. His successors at the piano, Juan Polito and Fulvio Salamanca, naturally had to imitate him. Both succeeded in this, and both continued to pump energy into the arrangements with strong technique and vigorous playing, which became even faster and more accentuated. D'Arienzo had it made. RCA Victor couldn't press fast enough; fans often paid more than the suggested retail price for his shellacs. Many of his contemporaries had to or wanted to adapt. In consequence, during the years arround 1940 most orchestras played much faster and more rhythmically. D'Arienzo had put tango back on its feet.

9 de Julio - the new style

D'Arienzo often arrived half an hour or so later in the Cabaret Chantecler. During his absence in the early evening his musicians occasionally played more freely, without him they experimented. One evening in December 1935 the audience demanded, 9 de Julio, but, people shouted, in the way they heard it before, in the late afternoon. D'Arienzo himself was amazed at his energetic, nervous, fresh band, was thrilled and really liked it. 9 de Julio was recorded on December 31, 1935, together with the Vals Orillas del Plata

A new style was born, the Epoqua de Ora of tango had begun.

The role of Biagi

Biagi's fills hop like little imps between the phrases played by the orchestra, mostly slipping out of the right hand as furiously fast, brightly ringing cascades of notes. But Biagi also rumbles surprisingly and cheekily in the bass registers with the left, and in between he drives the orchestra forward with melodia ritmica for a few bars or takes a small solo. In some instrumentals, such as the milonga La Puñalda, which hit like a hammer, or the tangos El Flete, El Irresitible, El Horizonte, Biagi seems to be everywhere like a cheeky jazzman.
Biagi wanted to give the tango piano a special role, as he himself says in an interview. It should do more than provide and accompany the rhythm with chords. It should shine in the orchestra, dominate.

Now he could live his vision. Admittedly, his fills also have something repetitive, pattern-like. But his nervous, lively, vibrating piano playing is in any case the most important building block for the tangomanía that D'Arienzo caused especially among young people in the city.

The singing string

Solos played legato on the low string is a stylistic element d'Arienzo used for over four decades. it was Cayetano Puglisi who produced this legato sound from the forties until the seventies.
In 1935 D'Arienzo had a second "first" violin player for this purpose: Alfredo Mazzeo changed the lower E-string of his violin against a slightly thicker viola string to achieve this very specific sound.

Radio El Mundo

Jaime Yankelevich's Radio Belgrano dominated the market until 1935.
But in 1935, Argentina's largest newspaper, EL Mundo, expanded into the thriving radio market and built its huge transmission buildings. Live broadcasts were now made to the country from seven studios, the largest was built for 500 people.

In 1936 Program director Pablo Osvaldo Valle formed Radio El Mundo into a Tango Radio. And the most important blockbuster was Juan D'Arienzo. El Rey del Compás remained firmly associated with El Mundo for decades. All over the country, people sat in front of their radios and listened to the driving sounds of the Rey del Compas.

Carnival in Montevideo

As a result of the broadcasts from Studio A of Radio El Mundo, D'Arienzo played the 1937 Carnival in Montevideo, where the foolish days had even more energy and importance at that time than the carneval in Buenos Aires. And so, for the next twenty years, at the end of the carnival, the orchestra moved to the Casino Hotel Carrasco in Montevideo, and the band often spent many weeks recovering there afterwards.

La Puñalada

And it was in Montevido in 1937 that the first superhit, the milonga La Puñalada, was born: At first Biagi had no idea how to arrange this composition, which was actually intended as a tango. But then he changed it into a vibrating milonga, and the audience was thrilled. The band recorded this milonga four times (1937, 1943, 1951, 1963).

Several orchestras

Similar to Fresedo in the twenties, D'Arienzo now assembled B orchestras to meet all demands. He himself toured the city in the evenings and waved the baton everywhere for a while. He had already put the violin aside in the early thirties.

The musician D'Arienzo

D'Arienzo was born at the end of December 1900. His mother encouraged the musical talent of her children, his father, owner of a small factory, would have preferred Juan to be a law student. But from him the young Juan learned the sense of business. Early on he proved to be a very skillful salesman. At the age of 18 D'Arienzo was a fully trained violinist and formed a trio with Ángel D'Agostino.

In the 20s he acted in cinemas, theaters and in different tango- and "jazz"-combos. In 1928 he managed to form a stable sextet with recordings on Electra, even then pianoplayer Juan Polito was with him.

In 1933 the Rey del Compás put aside his violin and from then on celebrated himself as an increasingly wildly acting orchestra leader. The musical fine-tuning, of course according to his specifications, he left to his arrangers.

The composer

Dozens of tangos were composed by D'Arienzo, including wonderful pieces like Paciencia (1937, 1951), Hotel Victoria (1935), Victoria (1935) or Bien Pulenta (1950).

Alberto Echagüe (1909-1987) - D'Arienzos emblematic singer

Echagüe's voice embodies the orchestra like no other with his rough-and-tumble phrasing.

The 28-year-old replaced previous singer Jorge Cabral in September 1937. Echagüe's masculine behaviour, his flair of the compardrito, the guy from the street, adds maturity and depth to the sound; many of D'Arienzo's singers will take their cues from his earthy, slightly dirtier style.

The start, however, was initially difficult, although it was Pablo Osvaldo Valle, program director of Radio El Mundo, who discovered Echagüe for D'Arienzo. In fact the record company Victor initially refused to record with this very different voice. And Radio El Mundo only allowed him one number per performance: The audience should get used to him slowly.

But Echagüe convinced, the fans loved him. Indiferencia, La Bruja, Mandria, No mientas or Santa milonguita are the big hits of these years.

Although Echagüe left the orchestra in early 1940, he returned again and again both in 1944 and also in the next decades. And even after D'Arienzo's death he lent his voice to successor bands such as Los Solistas de D'Arienzo and continued to appear on stage until the early 1980s.

The master and his musicians

Biagi was fired

Osvaldo Pugliese, a convinced communist, led his orchestra like a collective. D'Arienzo was cut from a different cloth. When Biagi received an enormous applause for a piano solo in mid-1938 and stood up to the audience, D'Arienzo forced him to leave. However, it is assumed that Biagi had long since flirted with a career of his own. In any case, there was no room for a second star next to the master.

Juan Polito - the new pianist

Here's more Info zu Juan Polito

Polito's playing did not reach the nervous playfulness of Biagi. But he was an experienced musician and had been in the business for a long time. The fills are fewer, but the piano playing is now stronger and more grounded.

The "crazy" conductor

It was also during this time that D'Arienzo developed his legendary wild way of conducting. As a result his music, his orchestra seemed even more energetic.

D'Arienzo's musicians report that the orchestra simply sounded different when the maestro stood in front of them flailing, provoking, smiling, cheering and driving them to give everything.

All of this is seen wonderfully condensed in the legendary television performance of Loca (1955).
The gentlemen, now somewhat matured, pump their bandoneons and bow their violins in a wild, precise choreography, while in front a hunched figure like a caricature with a huge nose wildly wags his finger at his musicians.

Fun fact: Singer Mario Bustos was once so generated by the wagging man that he bit his fingers in front of running TV cameras!

The Rey del Compás was also the king of the orchestra. One had respect. The roughneck lived only for his music and his musicians, supported them and helped them where he could. At the same time, however, he controlled the perfect fit of the suits just as meticulously as the sound of his orchestra.

1940 A new orchestra for the king

The Argentine journal Antena reported in April 1940:

D'Arienzo, who regularly comes to Buenos Aires for a few hours, has listened to his new orchestra and is convinced of its sound.

How can this be interpreted?

Hector Varela

Of course, in 1940 D'Arienzo was a myth and one of the best employers. Nevertheless, at the beginning of 1940, during the already traditional stay in the summer resort in Montevideo, his entire team, including the singer Alberto Echagüe, left him. D'Arienzo had refused to increase the already considerable salary, so his musicians started their own project under the direction of the previous pianist and arranger Juan Polito. Although the group managed to get by for some years, they were not really successful.

But restless entrepreneur D'Arienzo was soon able to start a new, even more top-class ensemble, that mainly concisted of musicians of the Hector Varela orchestra, that the bandoneonplayer had just newly formed. They were joined by the legendary violinist Cayetano Puglisi, who from then on intoned the typical long-drawn solos on the lowest violin string.

Fulvio Salamanca - new powerhouse on piano

The powerfully played piano forms the musical powerhouse in D'Arienzo's tango cosmos, together with the rhythm machine of the five virtuosic bandoneons.

Fulvio Salamanca, blood young but perfectly trained, took over this task, and stayed for 17 years. D'Arienzo had discovered the young talent during the last tour somewhere in the province.

A replacement for the singer Alberto Echagüe was still missing, because the voices D'Arienzo initially chose, Alberto Reynal (El tigre Millán, 1940) and Carlos Casares (Ríe, payaso, 1940) are pleasing, but not first league.

A Supercasting - The Discovery of Hector Mauré

D'Arienzo organized a competition. Almost 100 singers, accurately dressed, lined up outside the studios of Radio El Mundo. Hector Mauré's performance at the end of the day finaly ended the casting abruptly.

With him, melodie and delicateness got more space. His voice is much softer. It fits well in this more delicate phase of the orchestra. For many, the recordings of these years are among the most intense and sensitive of D'Arienzo's career, which spanned more than 50 years.

For 15 months at least, Juan Carlos Lamas took over Echagüe's somewhat rougher compadrito repertoire as second singer until he tried to become a solo star.

Armando Laborde

Mauré's successor, Armando Laborde, was actually named José Atilio Dattoli. As a 22-year-old unemployed talent, he still had to borrow the money for the cab ride to the audition from his friends. But he got the job and accompanied the master - still 'nameless' - to the summer resort in Montevideo. Because the record company wanted to promote the new star, they asked for a name, as usual he got it from the boss. On the way home at night, D'Arienzo asked the bus driver what his name was. The answer was Armando Laborde ...

The new orchestra of 1950 - 1957

In 1950 tango again became popular. New record labels emerged, many bands from which little had been heard for several years went back into the studios, Di Sarli started with the label Music Hall, Donato recorded again, Juan Polito got a record contract, and also D'Arienzo took off with a new orchestra.

Hector Varela leaves the orchestra

In mid-1950, Hector Varela, the center of the orchestra of the previous decade, seized the opportunity to form his own orchestra, with which he was to be successful for many years. Two of D'Arienzo's bandoneons and singer Armando Laborde went with him.

New musicians

Carlos Lázzari - Bandoneon

After experience with Caló, Maderna, Canaro and Domingo Federico, he joined D'Arienzo at age 25 and stayed until 1975. He arranged less complex than Varela. His arrangements survive in the hands of his nephew and leader of the current combo La Juan D'Arienzo.

Enrique Alessio

He was part of the founding formation of the Pugliese Orchestra, then led the accompaniment orchestra for Alberto Castillo until he preferred the secure, well-paying job with D'Arienzo.

A new - old sound

With the new formation D'Arienzo finally left again the lyrical, melodic paths he had taken with Mauré and Varela. He again focussed on the song structure and repertoire of the late thirties, when he had his breakthrough. The new band has more force, more depth, but is also coarser in parts, not always completely balanced. Overall, the musicians, who are actually brilliant, tend to be too loud and too massive throughout. Coupled with overly dramatic singing and some silly repertoire (El Hipo=the sip on), the orchestra sometimes lacks the lyrical and a balanced structure. However, there are also a couple of decent new compositions.

La Cumparsita 1951

Numerous instrumental pieces are nevertheless outstanding, e.g. Yapeyu, Tucumán (1951) or El Puntazo (1952), and of course the La Cumparstia of 1951. It was so successful, that from now on D'Arienzo had to end every performance with it. A tradition was born. In the next few years, over 14 million of these shellacs were to be sold. Record!!!

After RCA switched to the new recording process with tape masters in 1953, D'Arienzo successfully re-recorded many of his classics the following year.

1957 - The end of the Salamanca era

After the carnival season, D'Arienzo suffered from a hernia. The 57-year-old retired in the meantime, and some musicians went new ways.

In particular, Salamanca founded his own orchestra, More info here Echagüe and Laborde had Alberto di Paulo accompany them.

Against the decline 1955 - 1972

Even before that, the tango had lost much of its luster, but with the fall of Peron, it also lost its protector.
In 1958, the Chantecler was one of the last great cabarets to close, and in 1960 it was demolished.

Here you find more info about the Cabaret Chantecler


The Club del Clan

Against the invasion of rock'n roll and other foreign music, the TV program Club del Clan, in which young, fresh, pretty musicians presented a wide variety of Latin American styles, was made into a huge hype by RCA in 1962. Tango continued to lose importance, becoming just one genre among many. It is not surprising that in the same year RCA disposed of all masters of the tangos of the Epocha de Oro, so that today shellacs are almost always the only source!!!

D'Arienzo's orchestra was one of the few to survive the decline of tango culture. He continued to release regularly, keeping to the clear beat, even if the arrangements - at the latest since the departure of Fulvio Salamanca in 1957 - became very rich, powerful and more violin dominated. The sound of the new arranger Carlos Lazzari is partly reminiscent of the great big bands of the time.

The late years- Juan Polito, Ernesto Franco, Osvaldo Ramós

After a surprisingly quick convalescence D'Arienzo found old companion Juan Polito to replace Salamanca and - for the vocal duo -  Jorge Valdez and Mario Bustos.

The sound remains fat, bulky, big band-like, the vocals are mostly too much.

Osvaldo Ramós

is for me definitely the strongest voice of the late years! (Sentimiento Gaucho, Dimelo al Oido, Mi Dolor or El Bar de Rosendo).

The Legacy

The style survives, even after the death of the master, in successor bands like Los Solistas del D'Arienzo or Los Reyes del Compas.

But also groups like Los auténticos Reyes, Los Grandes del Compás, Orquesta Simbolo Juan D'Arienzo or Los Reyes del Tango feel connected to the Rey del Compas through at least one musician as well as the playing tradition.

After Carlos Lazzari's death his nephew Facundo played himself in the Orchestra Las Solistas del D'Arienzo. 2012 with his uncle's arrangements he founded La Juan D'Arienzo, a succesful contemporary band with many CDs and shows on festivals.

And Singer Pablo Ramós, son of singer Osvaldo Ramós, founded in 2009 Los Herederos del Compás, they also can be seen in shows and produced a couple of CDs.CDs.

D'Arienzo en Japon?

In 1968 and 1970, the orchestra, personally invited by the Japanese emperor, also went to faraway Japan. Alberto Echagüe even sang a tango in Japanese there. However, they were traveling without the maestro, who refused to fly all his life because of Carlos Gardel's tragic death in a plane crash.

D'Arienzo privat

What did D'Arienzo also want in Japan, he was a real Porteño. Besides the world of tango, his passion was the game. A good part of his immense income was spent on the racetracks, but also on roulette and the cigarillos, that constantly accompanied him.

D’Arienzo for dancers

In a much-cited interview from 1949, D'Arienzo said that tango was first and foremost rhythm, nervous energy, power and character. Many love the energy of this music, some reject it because of the always dominant  concentration on the beat. Hardly a DJ creates an evening without D'Arienzo, who recorded almost 1,000 recordings.

Crisp Milongas:

While D'Arienzo's milongas are considerably faster than Canaro's, the pre-1940 numbers in particular are all consistently danceable. These include instrumental classics such as De pura cepa (1935), Milonga, vieja milonga (1937), El esquinazo (1938, the one with the famous stomping) or El temblor (1938). And, with singer Alberto Echagüe, Milonga querida, De antaño, (1939, 110bpm), Meta fierro (1939, with glossa).

Although D'Arienzo remains true to his style through the decades, the late milongas are, with few exceptions (Milonga de mis Amores, 1970), hectic and sonically very pompous.

De Pura Cepa
Jonatan Agüero & Virginia Pandolfi, Sunderland/BA, 2016

Milonga querida
Fausto Carpino & Stéphanie Fesneau - Mediterranean Summer Tango Festival 2018

El esquinazo
Diego Quispe & Marina Alcalde, Obelisce Tango, 2015

Fast-paced valses

D'Arienzo wanted to rock the dancefloor, his music should move the dancers.

Therefore in proportion he recorded many milongas and valses. The focus on the beat works almost consistently with the valses; like the milongas, they are part of every DJ's standard repertoire.

In Orillas de Plata (1935), a precise rhythm machine of bass, left piano hand and bandoneons drives forward while the signature violin solo sends the dancers soaring. Miedo (1940), recorded by the star orchestra with Varela, Salamanca, Puglisi and singer Mauré, impresses with speed, energy, subtlety and a complex, melodic arrangement.

In particular, the intense valses of the early '40s, with Héctor Mauré as singer, are often recorded at breakneck speed: Adiós querida (1941, 78 bpm), Miedo (1940, 75 bpm), Flor de Mal (1940, 74 bpm).

Flor del mal
Maria Ines Bogado and Sebastian Jimenez, Lodz, 2014

Somewhat schmaltzier, calmer, but always building on the grandiose keyboard strokes of Fulvio Salamca, Valses from later years carry us forward with their pushing energy:
Eterna (1948-Echagüe).
No llores, Madre (1951, Roberto Lemos)

A bit cornier and with a more intrusive voice:
La sonrisa de Mama (1954, Laborde)
Me quieres y te quiero (1956, Laborde)

Valsecito de antes (1937)
Clarisa Aragon and Jonathan Saavedra – , Berlin, 2019

Miedo (1940)
Clarisa Aragón & Jonathan Saavedra, Istanbul, 2019

Cuatro Palabras (1941-Mauré)
Fausto Carpino & Stephanie Fesneau - Bregenz - 2021

Pasion 1937)
Eloy Souto & Laura Elizondo - Mallorca, 2011

Fibras - really fast !!!

Noelia Hurtado and Gaston Torelli - Berlin - 2018

Amor y Celos (1936)
Milena Plebs & Sergey Sokhnenko St. Petersburg, 2017

El aeroplano
Clarisa Aragon and Jonathan Saavedra –  Halle, 2018


Lucas Gauto & Naima Gerasopoulou - Griechenland - 2018

Orillas de la Plata 1935
Fausto Carpino+Stéphanie Fesneau, OsterTango Basel, 2017

Recuerdos de la Pampa (1939 - Echagüe)
Stephanie Fesneau y Fausto Carpino - Belgrad - 2019

Corazon De Artista
Kalganova Eleonora  & Michael Nadtochi, Denver, Colorado, 2017

Tangos on the beat

The first three dozen recordings with the new orchestra from 1935, such as Re fa si (1935) or Rawson (1936), are almost entirely instrumental; the staccato beat is very dominant.

Biagi's particularly filigree rhythmic shenanigans can be found in Pico Blanco (1939) or in Mandria (1939) with Alberto Echagüe.

The sound in the early 40s is much richer. Mauré's singing is allowed to come more to the forground, seeming at times to compete with the beguiling melodic lines of Puglisi's violin, while Salamanca's much broader piano playing drives the complex arrangements.

One hears this very nicely in Claudinette (1942) or in the fantastic version of Uno (1943) with Héctor Mauré.

Yanina Quinones Neri Piliu - Zürich - 2018

Jose Luis Salvo e Carla Ross, Mailand, 2019

La Bicoca
Juampy Ramirez & Daniel Arroyo - Ljubljana 2018

Pico Blanco (1939)

No mientas
Noelia Hurtado and Gaston Torelli – Berlin - 2016

Trago Amargo
Gustavo Rosas y Gisela Natoli - Catania - Sizilien - 2010

Carlos Espinoza & Noelia Hurtado, Lyon, 2019
One of the best, no wonder there are so many performances of it.

Neri Piliu & Yanina Quinones -
Oxford - 2017

El Olivo
Carlos Espinoza & Agustina Piaggio - Hamburg - 2021

Claudinette (Maure)

Uno (Maure)

El Olivo
Clarisa Aragon and Jonathan Saavedra, San Francisco, 2018

Until 1975, D'Arienzo recorded.

And he remained true to himself. Following the taste of the times, he also gave more space to the singers, but he never degraded himself to the accompaniment of a diva-worshipped singer, as he accused the other orchestras of doing in the aforementioned interview of 1949.

Instead, he produced, for example, very energetic instrumental numbers such as Tucumán (1950) or Yapeyú (1951), powerful pieces with his most important singer, Echagüe, or elaborately arranged massive recordings with the grandiose singer Osvaldo Ramós such as Sentimiento Gaucho (1965) or Mi Dolor (1972).

El puntazo
Carlos & Mirella Santos David, Grecia, 2020

Virginia Gomez and Christian Marquez, Warschau, 2019

La Cachila
Yanina Quiñones y Neri Piliù - Tel-Aviv - 2019

Sentimiento Gaucho
Voc: Osvaldo Ramos

"Sentimiento Gaucho" with the singer Osvaldo Ramos is one of my absolute favorites. When Ramos starts singing - goose bumps. Here the power of the D'Arienzo rhythm machine pairs perfectly with musicality, dynamics and melody. melody.

Mi Dolor
Sebastián Avendaño & Tanya Margarita Gutierrez Lara Paris - 2019

Este es el Rey
Maxi Copello & Cecilia Vicencio - San Jose, California, USA-2017

There are also some gripping, exceptional instrumental numbers from this late period: Adios Coco, Este es el Rey, Inspiracion, just to name a small selection.

Rie Payaso
Aoniken Quiroga & Noelia Barsi - Artetango Albi 2018

Adios Coco
Mariana et Dimitris Tango, Athen, 2014

I love it!!!
and a great choreo!!

Of great quality are the total of six recordings of "La Cumparsita" between 1928 and 1971, with that of 1951 considered the strongest.

La Cumparsita (1928)
D'Arienzo vor  D'Arienzo

La Cumparsita (1951)
the classic

La Cumparsita (1961) - TV
With an Impressive variaçion of the Fila del bandoneon

La Cumparsita (1971)
last version

Great musicians in the shadow of the maestro D'Arienzo

The most economically successful tangueros, Francisco Canaro and Juan D'Arienzo, but also Miguel Caló, no longer played in the orchestra themselves since the mid-1930s; they acted more as managers of their brand. Juan D'Arienzo naturally insisted on his style: rhythm, nervousness, energy. But the day-to-day fine work and arrangement was done by his outstanding pianists or first bandoneon players, who at the same time shone as instrumentalists. A lot of them developed their own styles after they left D'Arienzo.
In addition to Rodolfo Biagi, who contributed decisively to the emergence of the D'Arienzo sound, the pianists Juan Polito and Fulvio Salamanca, the bandoneonist Hector Varela and the legendary violinist Cayetano Puglisi shaped the musical core of the D'Arienzo brand over years.

Cayetano Puglisi (1902 - 1968) - 'El Talento'.

The Sicilian son of a very musical family had emigrated to Buenos Aires in 1909. His talent as a violinist was so great that he was already successful as a 13-year-old with a children's trio in the cafés of the center, where he was discovered by Roberto Firpo who was like a father to him. Thus, in 1917, the child prodigy contributed with his violin when Firpo had the very first version of "La Cumparsita" pressed into wax.
Firpo even dedicated a tango called El Talento (1918) to the 16-year-old Cayetano. The gifted musician played in a wide variety of orchestras as well as often being in demand as a guest and studio musician. Around 1929 he led his own sextet, the first recording being ... La Cumparsita (1929).

In 1940 began the second part of his career, which lasted 28 years: Until his death in 1968 he intoned with his unique sound the short solo on the low violin string so typical of D'Arienzo's music.

He accepted the musical constriction and intensive work that this entailed. D'Arienzo paid more than anyone else. In the wake of the latter's fame, Puglisi was able to strike millions in the soul with his heartbraking violin tone. He was also sweetening three more versions of La Cumparsita with his solos in 1943, 1951 and 1963. Few musicians always played first fiddle for over 50 years! You'll find Puglise as solo violinist in the very first video on this page (Loca, 1:50)

Que queres con ese loro - 1929
Voc: Roberto Diaz
(with many illustrations)

Hector Varela (1914 - 1987)

Hector Varela was a pithy porteño, a ladies' man with his hair slicked back, and - like his boss - was passionate about gambling at the horse races. Varela contributed more than 20 compositions to the D'Arienzo repertoire, and for more than ten years he was responsible for arranging and conducting the orchestra, because at performances D'Arienzo often came on stage only after an hour to celebrate his wild conductor's gymnastics. Then in 1950, in the middle of a very strong, successful phase of D'Arienzo, Varela, together with the singer Laborde, founded his own formation. This was very popular until 1975, not only in Argentina, with its rhythmic, but at the same time very pop-fiddle sound, so that Varela recorded 383 tangos with his orchestras in 25 years. Some of his recordings are among the best-selling hits of the Argentine "charts".

Not all everybody likes Varela's rich sound.
Unlike more progressive contemporaries such as Pugliese, Gobbi, or Salgán, Varela arranged for dancers; a clear compás almost always forms the basis of his music, which is at times campy but also harmonically demanding. The dominance of the violins and the bombastic sound may not find favor with traditionalists, but it must be acknowledged that his big hits like Fueron tres años (1956, Argentino Ledesma) or instrumentals like Mi dolor (1953) or Pa' que te oigan Bandoneón (1956) transfer an almost unique energy to the dancers. Among Varela's greatest compositions are certainly Fumando Espero (1960) and Fueron tres años (1956).
As a DJ, I myself prefer to play Pacienca (1951) and Yuyo brujo (1951).

Fueron Tres Años
Eric Dinzel y Diana Suárez -  Salon Canning/BA - 2013

Pa' Que Te Oigan Bandoneón
Sebastian Arce & Mariana Montes, Baltimore, 2011

Pacienca (1951)

Fulvio Salamanca (1921-1999) - Master of the sweet sound

If, at the beginning of a tanda, the violins play unisono in the highest registers and lay down a wonderful melodious carpet of sound over a powerful beat all their own, then the dancers can expect a powerful, romantic tanda by the exceptional pianist Fulvio Salamanca.

For 17 years Salamanca formed the center of D'Arienzo's rhythm machine with powerful chords and filigree melody lines, directed the orchestra from the piano, was arranger as well as leader of the orchestra since Varela's departure, and recorded 380 titles with the maestro during this time. Many count him among the very great pianists. But in 1957, after 20 years with D'Arienzo, when he was only 37 years old, he decided to go his own way from now on, although at first he was not at all clear about the direction.

Late in the evening, in the spring of 1957, on his way home while changing bus lines, Salamanca met his old friend and bandoneon player Eduardo Cortti, who was far better connected in the scene, and convinced him in the next bar to form their own orchestra together. They were able to win over great musicians such as the violin legends Elvino Vardaro and Aquiles Aguilar or the singers Jorge Garré and Armando Guerrico from Uruguay.

For a long time, Salamanca rehearsed the marcato with his bandoneons, that is, the way the bandoneons stomping together intonate the beat. He wanted something completely his own, something new, wanted to set himself apart from D'Arienzo. And he developed a pushing double beat, massive-soft, but always present and energetic.

During a dinner with his musicians emerged the second important aspect that makes Salamanca's music so unique. Armando Guerrico quietly sang a previously unknown melody, Adiós corazón. After some searching, Salamanca acquired sheet music and rights from Uruguay. While setting the notes, he found what he was looking for: his touch, his sound, his trademark; the violins playing unisolo in the highest register, uniquely corresponding with Guerrico's singing. Adiós Corazon (1957) became a huge hit, of similar quality are Manu Cruel (1958), Bomboncito (1958) and the wonderful recording of Pugliese's seminal composition Recuerdo (1959), sung as a duet by Armando Guerrico and Luis Correa. These terrific recordings sound like they were just recorded, but some dancers find them too violin-heavy.

Salamanca was a convinced communist, which is why he was repeatedly arrested by the military junta and banned from performing. D'Arienzo had freed his young musician from the hands of the police several times. His conflicts with the regime certainly contributed to the fact that Salamanca embarked on month-long tours for Uruguay and Chile in the 1960s. His music was well received in Japan, where he toured and recorded with a sextet in 1975.

Sayaka Higuchi and Joscha Engel, BA, 2019

Mano Cruel

Adiós Corazón
Miriam Larici & Leonardo Barrionuevo, 2017

El Taíta

Juan Polito (1908 - 1981) - The returnee

That he didn't really develop a profile of his own is not surprising as he himself shaped the D'Arienzo sound for decades like no other.

Coming from a family of many musicians, Juan played side by side with greats such as orchestra leader and bandoneonist Juan Maglio 'Pacho' or legendary violinist Elvino Vardaro from the mid-1920s on. Polito's career as an orchestra leader began at the end of 1928, as it was customary at the time, with rapidly changing lineups. In the meantime, he led the house orchestra of the Brunswick label.
In 1938 Juan Polito replaced Rodolfo Biagi.
He had to imitate his unique style, but he also developed it further through his more varied playing. Polito was D'Arienzo's pianist and arranger, and as a composer he left behind the vals Castigo (1939), but above all one of the best tangos recorded by D'Arienzo: La Bruja (1939). After the Carnival season of 1940, he left D'Arienzo with almost all of his musicians, including the singer Echagüe, and successfully made a solo career in cabarets, capturing the most important broadcasting slot on Radio Belgrano in 1943. However, recordings are only available from 1950 for the Pampa label, traditional numbers in the style of Rey del Compás with an irrepressible power, which unfortunately are hardly available on CD: La Bruja (1952). After Salamanca's departure, Polito returned to D'Arienzo as pianist and arranger on May 8, 1957, presided over the orchestra until its dissolution, and led it during the two trips to tango-enthusiastic Japan in which D'Arienzo did not participate because of his fear of flying.

Que noche 1953