Orquesta Típica Osvaldo Fresedo

El Pibe del Paternal

Osvaldo Fresedo

*05.05.1897  +18.11.1984



Orchestra of the aristocrats

Number of recordings:


To buy

TangoTimeTravel offers all recordings between 1933 and 1948 in best quality. www.tangotunes.com. also offers some good tunes.

Vamos corazón - 1941 - Ruíz

Oscar Fresedo with big orchestra in the movie Tango (1933) playing the tango Porque



-  elegante, romantic


-  balanced arrangements, unusual instruments (vibraphone, harp, drums)

-  hardly any solos

-  hardly vals or milonga

Biggest hits

Vida mía (1933, Ray)

Nieblas del riachuelo (Ray, 1937)

Buscándote (1941, Ruiz) and many more

Important singers

Roberto Ray (1931-1939)

Ricardo Ruiz (1939-1942)

Oscar Serpa (1942-1947)


The physically small Osvaldo was one of the greats. With his extremely elegant music, he established an incomparable style that influenced other masters such as Carlos Di Sarli, Miguel Caló or Florindo Sassone. He made over 1250 recordings, the first in 1920, the last only in 1980. No one was in the business as long as he was.



El espiante - 1927



El espiante - 1932




El espiante - 1933



El espiante - 1955



El espiante - 1980




Interview with Fresedo on his first composition El espiante




El Pibe de la Paternal

The musically highly gifted Osvaldo, blessed with a very fine ear, came, unlike many of his colleagues, from a thoroughly wealthy family. Naturally, his father, a successful businessman, hoped that his sons would follow in his footsteps. In 1910, the family moved to the La Paternal neighborhood.

Organ grinders paraded through the streets with their organitos, playing tangos with increasing frequency. Even before that, Osvaldo had been musically encouraged by his mother, herself a piano teacher. But now he threw himself passionately into the new music.

Osvaldo practiced the bandoneon and studied music theory day and night after graduating from business school. And just like Julio de Caro, he was kicked out of the family home. But Osvaldo's father, however, eventually accepted his sons' enthusiasm.

After the 17-year-old started playing with a trio in the city's cafés at night together with his violin-playing older brother Emilio, the father unceremoniously opened a bar himself so that the sons would no longer have to tour Buenos Aires at night.

At that time, in 1914, Fresedo often practiced late into the night at the family's country house. Inspired by the whistles of the guards, he wrote his first composition, El Espiante, which is still outstanding today.

Already this first work points to Fresedo's sense of sound. At the beginning, the musicians imitate the whistles; one hears the frantic pounding, hissing, acceleration and braking of a steam locomotive and thus experiences the fugitive, according to the meaning of the title, which comes from the lunfardo, the rogue language of the porteños.

Fresedo reports from that time, that he enjoyed great prestige as a bandoneon player and that the neighborhood boys were even proud when they were allowed to carry his bandoneon.

The very next year, in 1915, the little boy was already counted among the greats, performing in various orchestras in the newly opened Montmarte and Royall Pigall cabarets, and finally, in reference to the famous bandoneon player Pedro Maffia, whom everyone called El Pibe de Flores, he received his nickname El Pibe de La Paternal (The Little One from La Paternal).

Tangos for the aristocracy

In 1919 Fresedo founded his first own sextet, soon later stars like Miguel Caló or Carlos Di Sarli played with him. But also Julio De Caro, who is considered the tango revolutionary of the 1920s, was influenced by Osvaldo after 1920.

Fresedo introduced new techniques such as the staccato playing of the bandoneons or joint cressendi of the orchestra. But above all he was the darling of the rich in the north of the city and conquered their dance halls and cafés with his already well-balanced sound at a time when the tango was still more or less primitive folk music of the suburbs.

It was Fresedo and other musicians of the so-called Guardia Nueva who developed tango into a more sophisticated music. It is therefore not surprising that he was one of the first to expand his sextet into a complete Orquesta Típica with three violins, three bandoneons, bass and piano. Between 1925 and 1928, he made around 600 recordings for the Odeon label.

In 1927, his popularity was so great that four orchestras performed simultaneously under his name: The main orchestra played in the Cabaret Ta-Ba-Ris as well as on the radio, a second was conducted by the young Carlos Di Sarli in the cinema Fénix, a third played in the Bar Fresedo, which the owner had named after the orchestra leader, while the master himself whizzed through the city every evening and showed up once at each of the orchestras.

The privat man

Like so many Porteños, Fresedo was passionate about horse racing. After winning a large sum of money in a race in 1923, he fulfilled a dream and bought an airplane, with which he subsequently won prizes at air shows.



Firulete - 1922
Before 1926/27, recordings were acoustic, that means, without a microphone. The sound was captured through a large funnel.

Derecho viejo - 1927
Derecho viejo is a very old tango of Eduardo Arolas, composed even before 1916.

It was recorded by Fresedo in 1927, 1941 and 1959.

Paris 1928/1929

As already mentioned, Fresedo and his musicians were the típica of choice of the city's upper class. Accordingly, Fresedo was also friends with one of the most dazzling "Niño bien", i.e. sons of rich family: Macoco. It was this man of the world who, at the end of 1928, arranged a contract for him in Paris, which at that time was extremely lucrative for tango musicians.

There Fresedo performed in different cabarets on the Champs Elysee. In the beginning, Ernesto Famá was the singer. Gardel had left for Paris a few months earlier, and Fresedo met him regularly in Paris and continued to work with him here and there.

Fresedo spent January on the Côte d'Azur, where the French upper class enjoyed the milder winter. In spring 1929 he was contracted for a more jazz-oriented engagement in Paris, then in late 1929, he finally traveled from Paris to New York.





This video gives a good impression of tango dancing in Paris at the end of the twenties.


Orquesta Típica Select - 1920 - Color de rosa

USA again and again

In 1920, the U.S. record company RCA Victor, which had not yet opened a recording studio in Buenos Aires, chose the young Osvaldo along with two other talents to record in the U.S. They wanted to compeed with the other major record company, Odeon, which had the big stars Canaro and Firpo under contract.

The young men did receive $5,000 each and Fresedo was thus able to have his talented bandoneon playing pressed into the grooves of the shellacs as early as 1920 - but otherwise the three porteños weren't really popular in jazz-loving New York with their performances. The young men were forced to market as Argentine savages, they performed under the name Argentine Indians from the Pampas and had to wear gaucho costumes.


But Fresedo returned to New York several times. During his longest stay, in 1934, he even led his own orchestra, with which he performed in hip New York hotels such as Savoy-Plaza and Ritz-Carlton. While Fresedo did not succeed in bringing the tango to the United States, he was influenced by jazz and the sound of the big bands. Until 1939, Fresedo still played his beloved bandoneon himself, and only then limited himself to conducting and organizing the orchestra.


The Fresedo School

Carlos Di Sarli was Fresedo's pianist in the 1920s. He gave similar importance to the violins, he was always in search of of a harmonic and balanced sound. Di Sarli's composition Milonguero viejo is considered a homage to his musical model.

Florindo Sassone stroked his violin under Fresedo's direction in the early 1930s and was decisively influenced by him. At the beginning of the 1960s, Sassone had great success with Di Sarli's repertoire, but he brought it closer to Fresedo's sound by using harp, vibraphone and percussion, thus interweaving the sound of both great musicians.

But also in the music of Miguel Caló, which is also characterized by elegance and balance, one hears that the bandoneonist Caló repeatedly worked with Fresedo before and after 1930 and was influenced by him.


Unusual instruments

Even in earlier lineups of the 1920s and 1930s, the ensemble included saxophone, drums and acoustic guitar, which shows that Fresedo's Orquesta Típica was precisely a dance orchestra that played other genres besides tangos. Fresedo was also very close to early jazz during his stay in Paris. Especially in the early 1930s, the orchestra's discography accordingly includes numerous foxtrots, rumbas, pasodobles, rancheras or marches.

But it was not until 1935, after Fresedo had returned from the United States, that he integrated into his orchestra the harp, vibraphone and percussion, instruments so typical of his sound.

It was probably no coincidence that more than 20 years later, American jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie happened to land in Fresedo's club during his tour of Argentina in 1956. They arranged to meet the next evening. They even made recordings of this legendary tango-jazz crossover, such as Vida Mia.

Vamos corazón - 1941 - Ricardo Ruíz
In this tango Fresedo shows all his skills of instrumentation. Almost after every bar the texture changes, another sound group takes over the compás or passes the melody on to the next instrument.



Vida mia- Osvaldo Fresedo Dizzy Gillespie - 1956

A colorful tapestry of sound

Fresedo conducted a wide variety of orchestras for more than six decades.

He remained true to his trademarks - the greatest musical quality, a harmonious sound and a great balance between rhythm and melody - but it is the titles between 1933 and 1943 that are surrounded by a magic all of their own, which hardly any dancer can escape.



Yo no se llorar - 1933 - Roberto Ray
Raúl Palladino und Aneta Orlik - Krakau, 2018



Canto de amor - 1934 - Roberto Ray


Araca la cana! - 1933 - Roberto Ray
Gustavo und Giselle - Palermo 2003
Almost 20 years ago Gustavo and Giselle were our gods with this show in Buenos Aires. But the tango has evolved!
Tigre viejo
Osvaldo und Coca, Sunderland, BA, 2008
Sueño azul - 1937 - Roberto Ray
Dana Jazmin Frigoli - Adrian Romeo Ferreyra - 2022


Sollozos - 1937 - Roberto Ray
Michelle und Joachim - 2022







Arrabalero - 1939 - Instrumental


The violins come first in Fresedo's sound world.

He therefore liked to position them on stage in front of the bandoneons. Typical for Fresedo the violins play a couple of bars first in legato phrases, with bowing, and then the same phrase in staccato, often in pizzicato technique. i.e. plucked. Beautiful violin chants and countermelodies are layered above.

Since these melodies usually follow simple rhythmic patterns, they inspire the dancers sometimes clearly, sometimes reservedly, but always subtly and precisely with a clear compás.

Also typical are mostly subdued, sometimes brute crescendos and decrescendos of the entire orchestra (Derecho Viejo, 1942, 0:15).



Just as fundamental to the Fresedo sound, however, is the way he uses the piano. In most orchestras, this powerful, versatile instrument pulses as the rhythmic center. Often it is the pianists left hand that mark the beat with powerfully threshed low chords.

Fresedo always strove for an aristocratically elegant sound cosmos and therefore dispensed with the rumbling deep surges of the piano as well as with the sound of the bandoneons, which are rarely heard in the foreground. They rather emphasise the rhythm in a restrained way.

Instead, like a jazz piano, the fills of the piano often sit between the melody lines performed by the violins, commenting on and varying them or playing with triplet rhythms.

But also harp and vibraphone often shine at these intersections of musical phrases with furiously fast played runs swelling on and off. Or they mark melodious sound points. In a very similar way, the percussion can be heard with selected tonal accents. It's only after 1950 that Fresedo uses percussion as a continuously played rhythm instrument.

The carefully cultivated harmony of the instruments, the arpeggiated runs of the harp, piano and vibraphone, the piano played mainly in the higher registers, the deliberately placed sound accents of all the instruments as well as the clear-as-a-bell tenor voices of the singers give the orchestra as a whole a lovely, romantic touch without ever lapsing into rhythmic arbitrariness. To achieve this beautiful, balanced sound with pure melodies, Fresedo rehearsed long and intensively with each instrumental group individually. He wanted, as he said himself, that each musician internalize the emotions of the music. It was not the solos of virtuoso musicians that counted for him, but the overall sound of the orchestra.

Consequently, one rarely finds driving, energetic variaciones, i.e. a rapidly played finale, with this orchestra. Dancers showing with fast moulinettes or energetic figures at the end of a tango, that doesn't really suit Fresedo.

Te llama mi violin - 1942 - Oscar Serpa
Yanina Quiñones and Neri Piliu - 2016 - Istanbul


Fresedo for dancers

Osvaldo composed arround 80 titles as El espiante, Arrabalero, El once (A divertirse), Pimienta, Pampero, Siempre es carneval, Sollozos oder Vida mía. Milongas und Valses spielen in seinem Repertoire keine Rolle.

Colibriyo - 1934 Ray


Energetic tangos from the early thirties

In 1933 Osvaldo started with a new orchestra and strong musicians on the Odeon label. Already the first recording Araca la cana (1933, Roberto Ray) starts energetically with precise groove, but also the instrumental pieces La lavada (1933), Tigre viejo (1934) or Firulete (1940) inspire dancers with their rhythmical variety just as much as the more traditional first composition El spiante in the 1933 recording with fantastic sound effects.


Romantic with Roberto Ray

Roberto Ray (1912-1960) was a perfect fit for Fresedo's musical vision. In 1931 he joined the orchestra as an estribillista (verse singer), and in the early 1930s Fresedo was one of the first to have his singers sing longer phrases. When Ray finally left the orchestra in 1939 to persue a solo career with far less success, the Ray-Fresedo pairing had long since become a fixture. With his bell-bright, high tenor full of refined expression, Ray had set the standard for all of Fresedo's later singers.

In the mid-1930s he produced great hits such as Vida mía (1933), Isla de Capri, Cordobesita, Nieblas de riachuela, Volver (1935) and Sollozos (1937).

But there are also a number of tangos with more groove such as Telón (1939) or Careta, careta (1940) with the lesser known singer Carlos Mayal.

Cordobesita - 1933 - Ray
Pablo Rodriguez y Noelia Hurtado - Amsterdam - 2010


Isla de Capri - 1935 - Ray
Elizabeth Matias Arte - Mexico - 2017
Telon - 1938 - Ray




Elegance and energy with Ricardo Ruiz

In the wake of the D'Arienzo revolution, beginning in 1936, Fresedo also designed his sound tapestries to be somewhat faster and more energetic, without sacrificing quality, elegance and harmony. His fantastic next singer, Ricardo Ruíz (1914-1976), lent his crystal clear high voice to the orchestra for 28 tangos.

Inquietud, Mi gitana (1939), Alas and Rosarina Linda (1940) show Fresedo at the height of his art, as do the tangos Careta, Careta (1939) or Nidito azul (1940) with the lesser known Carlos Mayel. This strong phase ended, when almost all the musicians and singers left the orchestra in 1942.

Mi gitana - 1940 - Ruiz
Eugenia Parrilla e Yanick Wyler - Florenz - 2017

Plegaria - 1940 - Ruiz

Alas - 1940 - Ruiz

Buscandote - 1941 - Ruiz
Monica Llobet & Richard Council - Miami - 2015

Between romantic perfection and great kitsch: the singers Oscar Serpa and Hector Pacheco

But Fresedo built up a new, equally strong orchestra. The new singer was Oscar Serpa (1919 - 1982), until then mainly an interpreter of traditional folk music. He stayed with Fresedo until 1947, performing 59 titles, until he switched to Carlos Di Sarli. Elvino Vardaro, one of the great violinists of the Época de Oro, joined the orchestra as another star.

With his unique tone and virtuoso technique, he not only lent class to the tango Te llama mi violín (1942, Serpa), but also contributed to great tangos like Uno (1943, Serpa) or Tango gris (1943, Serpa).

Uno - 1943 - Oscar Serpa
Amelia Rambe - Ferrol Matthew - 2022

Te llama mi violin - 1944 - Oscar Serpa
Yanina Quiñones and Neri Piliu - Istanbul - 2016

Siempre siempre - 1944 - Oscar Serpa

Para lucirse - 1952

Vida mia - 1952 - Hector Pacheco

But already in these years numerous numbers such as Sol (1945, Serpa), indicate what the Fresedo sound will be like in the next decades. Because of affected string waves, exaggerated sound effects or the often intrusive percussion, most people perceive this often slowly played music as kitschy violin soup.

This is even more present after 1950 when Hector Pacheco (1918 - 2003) was the main singer. Music and style are now influenced by Fresedo's new arranger, the bandoneonist Roberto Pensara, who was fascinated by Astor Piazzolla. Fresedo, who had opened his own club called Rendez Vous in 1947, rarely played for dancers in later years. 'El Pibe del Paternal' died in 1984, performing with his orchestra until the end.