El Once by
Osvaldo Fresedo 

Orchester Osvaldo Fresedo
Vok: Roberto Ray
T: 2:38, BPM: 62

Musik: Osvaldo Fresedo
(1887 – 1984, bandoneon, director, composer)

Text: Emilio Fresedo (1893-1974)

Osvaldo Fresedo - Roberto Ray - 1935



Osvaldo Fresedo (1925, 1927, 1931, 1935/Roberto Ray, 1944, 1953, 1979), Roberto Firpo (1942), José García (1943), Carlos Di Sarli (1946, 1951, 1954), Alfredo de Angelis (1952), Enrique Rodriguez (1956), Juan D’Arienzo (1966)

And here a video by tangomundo from Berlin (2020):



At first the name of this tango seems puzzling:

Why the eleventh? And who is supposed to enjoy themselves?


For decades, the highlight of the tango season were the huge carnival festivals with thousands of dancers and orchestras with more then 30 musicians.

But the Bailes del Internado also had a legendary reputation before and after 1920. Internados were medical students who were in a year of practice after graduation. They choose Spring Day, 21 September, as their Students Day and thereby followed a french tradition. They celebrated all over the city center. They attracted attention with less than tasteful parades and comedy plays. The highlight of the celebrations were the Bailes del Internado.


Here you can find - in Spanish - a small thesis about the balls.Bailes del Internado


For the first ball on 21 September 1914, the graduates afforded themselves a first-rate temple of pleasure, the Palais de Glace (Eispalast). Angel D'Agostino sung about this building in the wunderfull tango of the same name.

From 1916 these balls took place in Pabellón de las Rosas .

Also this palace inspired a beautiful composition: Pabellón de las rosas, e.g. a vals by Juan D’Arienzo, 1935.

In 1924, the budding doctors held their legendary festival for the last time. It was the eleventh.

El Once - 1927 - Instrumental



El Once - 1931 - Theóphilo Ibañez





For the very first ball in 1914, the students invited the best tango combos of the time: Francisco Canaro and Roberto Firpo. They each had to compose a new tango.

In the following years, classics such as El internado, Derecho viejo or Rawson were written for the balls, but also pieces with ironic titles such as La muela careada (The carious tooth) or El amoníaco, which Fresedo also contributed.

In 1919, he penned El sexto for the sixth ball, and consequently the students were to enjoy El once at the 11th ball in 1924.



There was a real competition between the students of the different hospitals to see who could come up with the crudest pranks and worst jokes on the occasion of 'Students' Day'.

Francisco Canaro reports in his memoirs that the young men cut off the hands of the dead in the mortuary and then dressed up as ghosts to scare the women with the frozen body parts.

In 1924, disguised students surprised their rector in his sleep, causing him to shoot one of the troublemakers in terror.

After this tragic accident, the authorities banned 'Students' Day' and with it the Bailes del Internado. Thus El Once is the last tango composed for these balls.

El once - 1925 - Instrumental


El once - 1945 - Instrumental

The origin

Osvaldo Fresedo reports that he had completely forgotten to compose the desired tango for the eleventh ball. No wonder, he was a busy man in the mid-20s, running several orchestras at the same time.



Before the daily performance of his main orchestra at the Cabaret Abdullah, he asked his musicians for help: he played the melody of the new piece, improvised a little, they contributed theirs and Fresedo, who was an experienced, excellent musician, then completed the piece in a few days.



El Once, made a la parilla (parilla = barbecue; means playing without notes, only by agreement), became a big instrumental hit that many orchestras recorded. Fresedo's brother Emilio wrote the rarely sung verses, which Carlos Gardel was the first to take up in 1925.


Fresedo returned again and again to his composition El Once, the version from 1935 with the singer Roberto Ray is certainly the most interesting.


The development of the orchestra can be traced well on the basis of the others.

Theresa Fauß did a nice comparison of different versions of El once .

El Once - 1953 - Instrumental


El Once - 1979/80 - Instrumental


The song (Version von 1935)

In keeping with its year of origin, 1924, El Once has a simple structure, to which Fresedo also adhered in 1935.


Three bars played with four beats of staccato, are answered by one intoned legato. The simple melodies, whose notes are set like a musical prelude, each extend over only one bar and seem to repeat themselves with little variation. The charm is in the gimmicks of piano and vibraphone at the bar transitions.

Roberto Ray sings for only 30 seconds in the fourth section (from 1:33), but it is here that Fresedo shows himself to be a master of euphony, enveloping the crystal-clear tenor voice with exquisite sounds of piano, vibraphone and elegant singing of the strings.

El Once - La Tipica Pablo
Bailan Ines Muzzopappa & Corina Herrera -2020



El Once   (1924)

(A divertirse)


No deje que sus penas se vayan al viento

Porque serán ajenas al que oye lo cierto,

No espere que una mano le afloje el dolor

Sólo le dirán ¡Pobre! y después, ¡Se acabó!

Por eso me divierto, no quiero sentirlas

No quiero oír lamentos que amarguen la vida,

Prefiero que se pierdan y llegue el olvido

Que todo lo remedia, que es lo mejor.

El Once  (1924)

(A divertirse)


Don't let your sorrows fly away in the wind

For they will be alien to the one who hears what is true,

Don't wait for a hand to loosen your pain

They'll only tell you Poor! and then it's over!

That's why I'm having fun, I don't want to feel them

I don't want to hear laments that make life bitter,

I'd prefer they were lost and oblivion arrives

Which remedies everything, which is the best.

Si busca un consuelo, no vaya a llorar

Aprenda a ser fuerte y mate el pesar,

Sonría llevando a su boca el licor

Que baile su almita esperando un amor.

El humo de un puro, la luz del lugar

Las notas que vagan le harán olvidar,

Quién sabe, a su lado, los que irán así

Con los corazones para divertir.

If you're looking for comfort, don't go crying

Learn to be strong and kill the grief,

Smile and take the liquor to your mouth

Let your soul dance, waiting for love.

The smoke of a cigar, the light of the place

The wandering notes will make you forget,

Who knows, by your side, those who will go like this

With hearts to amuse.

A divertirse todos, rompiendo el silencio

Para cantar en coro, siquiera un momento,

Recuerden que en la vida, si hay algo de valor

Es de aquel que la lleva pasándola mejor.

Alegre su mirada, no piense en lo malo

No deje que su cara se arrugue temprano,

Deje que todo corra, no apure sus años

Que a nadie le importa lo que sintió.

To have fun alltogether, breaking the silence

To sing in chorus, even for a moment,

Remember that in life, if there is anything of value

It belongs to the one who has the best time.

Cheer up your eyes, don't think about the bad things

Don't let your face wrinkle early,

Let everything run its course, don't rush your years

No one cares what you felt.

transl.: deepL