Gricel de Aníbal Troilo 

Orchestra Aníbal Troilo
Vok: Francisco Fiorentino
T: 3:31, BPM: 62

Music: Mariano Mores 1916 – 2016
Pianist, director of orchestras, composer

Text: José María Contursi 1911 – 1972
Tango poet, bohemian, civil servant


Tango is a sad thought to dance (Enrique Santos Discépolo) is a cliché that has been as flat-footed as the feet of many tangueros.

The lyrics of the tango poet José María Contursi, which he wrote for his lover Gricel, feed this cliché with every line.


Ready for the movies, however, is the related real-life love drama that lasted for decades and inspired Contursi to write a handful of the most moving tango lyrics.

The first encounter 1935

Susana Gricel Viganó, a charming redhead who later regularly won the beauty contests of her sleepy provincial hometown in the Córdoba region, where she lived a rather dull life, travelled to Buenos Aires in 1935 at the age of fifteen. Her acquaintance, Nelly Omar, one of the great tango divas, had invited her to one of her concerts at the Stentor radio station. Whether the teenager with the dreamy blue eyes was interested in the music is not known.

In any case, she met the radio presenter José María Contursi, el duque de la noche porteña (king of the night), dandy and bohemian, handsome, eloquent, a notorious seducer of women.


However, he was already married and loved his little daughter. Gricel returned to the province.

1938: "Spa stay" with Gricel's parents in Capilla del Monte.

Three years later, Contursi was to visit a health resort for health reasons.

It was Nelly Omar who reminded him of her acquaintance Gricel in Capilla del Monte in the province of Córdoba, whose parents ran a boarding house there.

The young Gricel did not resist the seductive powers of the elegant bon vivant, but it was Contursi who fell madly in love with the provincial beauty.

Supposedly for health reasons, he now travelled regularly to Capilla del Monte, keeping the fire of love alive with letters, but finally, two years later, when his wife fell ill, he chose his family.

Gricel, who had seen the relationship as much more than a relationship, was left deeply hurt. She resolved, it is said, never to cry and mourn again and from then on answered Contursi's protestations of love with great coolness.

1939 - 1945 Tango lyrics full of tragedy

No one in Buenos Aires had any idea of his unfulfilled longing. Contursi  now poured out his feelings into heart-rending tango lyrics, which inspired the greatest tango composers of the 1940s to top compositions.

Titles like Quiero verte una vez más (1939, I want to see you again), En esta tarde gris (1941, On this grey afternoon), Toda mi vida (1941, My whole life) and finally Gricel (1942) tell of Contursi's unrequited love.

All the great orchestras such as Lomuto, Troilo, Pugliese, Caló, Canaro and many others successfully included it in their repertoire.

Later, other titles followed, such as Cada vez que me recuerdes (1943, Whenever you think of me) and La noche que te fuiste (1945, The Night You Left Me)

Home in Capilla del Monte Gricel was now known as Gricel, la del Tango. She continued to win all the beauty contests, was courted at balls, but it was not until 1949 that the twenty-two-year-old married and had a daughter. Her husband was a similar womaniser to Contursi, he left her when she was 40, she then lived with her parents and worked as a teacher.

1962 Lucky years?

27 years after their first encounter, Gricel got to know that Contursi, now a widower, has been addicted to alcohol for years, haunted by depression, and has been living in complete seclusion.

Without hesitation, she immediately traveled to Buenos Aires, snatched the great poet out of his agony, their love reawakens, they marry in 1967 and spend a few more years in Capilla del Monte far from the alcoholic temptations of the big city.


1972 The End

The happy ending of this moving love story lasted barely five years. In 1972 Contursi died, having been ill with his liver for some time. Gricel lived alone for over 20 years; she died of a stroke in 1994.

Contursi was actually born into tango poetry.
His father Pascuale Contursi was considered one of the great tango poets of the previous generation, and he wrote the first lyrics to La Cumparsita as well as the verses of the tango that is considered the first true sung tango: Mi noche triste laid the foundation for Gardel's singing career in 1917.

Aníbal Troilo (1942/Francisco Fiorentino)

The song:

Troilo's troupe artfully and delicately develops the musical question-answer game laid out in Mariano Mores' composition. Almost every bar of this three-and-a-half-minute mini-opera full of small dialogues breathes the back and forth, the longing and despair of this love.


The central motif, later varied many times, is heard almost abruptly: a rising sequence of notes, a falling sequence of notes as well as the harmonic merging that repeatedly echoes Gricel's wistfully called syllables. The low range increases the melancholy. But it is not only these sequences of notes that seem to speak to each other: Above all, the pianist Orlando Goñi, sometimes also Troilo, answer short phrases varying and commenting.


Almost all tangos are based on half-minute sections (usually eight bars of four beats = 32 steps), called 'verse' and 'chorus', which alternate with each other.

Gricel, on the other hand, has sections of varying length, and the division of this tango into two parts is also untypical: only after a long instrumental section of 1:40 starts the singing of Francisco Fiorentino. A powerful rhythm stomps underneath, which after a few bars recedes behind the hesitant, wistful accompaniment of violins and bandoneon.

From 2:02, a violin melody joins in, floating in clear tones.

Troilo integrates his singer Fiorentino into the orchestra in an elegant way. At 2:35 to 2:45 during the central text passage porque no te olvidé (because I have not forgotten you), the orchestra falls almost completely silent, only to resume with dramatic-sounding triplets.

Francisco Canaro (1942/Eduardo Adrian)
To me this arrangement, that is dominated by the organ, doesn't fit to the lyrics at all. This is astonishing as Mariano Mores is not only the piano player of Canaro but also the composer of this beautiful music.

Atilio Stampone (1971/Roberto Goyeneche)
The 2015 world champions justify Goyeneche's force and Stampone's violin rugs in a grandiose choreography.

Lidia Borda





No debí pensar jamás

en lograr tu corazón...

y sin embargo te busqué

hasta que un día te encontré


Translation: Alberto Paz

I never should've though

tabout trying to win your heart...

Yet I looked for you

until one day I found you

y con mis besos te aturdí

sin importarme que eras buena...

Tu ilusión fue de cristal,

se rompió cuando partí

pues nunca, nunca más volví…

¡Qué amarga fue tu pena!

and with my kisses I bewildered you

failing to care how good you were.

Your illusion was like crystal

that shattered when I left,

because I never, ever came back...

How bitter was your heartache!  

No te olvides de mí,

de tu Gricel,

me dijiste al besar

el Cristo aquel...

y hoy que vivo enloquecido

porque no te olvidé

ni te acuerdas de mí...

¡Gricel! ¡Gricel!

Don't forget me,

your Gricel,

you said while you kissed

that image of Christ...

Today, I'm still crazy

because I did not forget you,

you no longer remember me

Gricel! Gricel! 

Me faltó después tu voz

y el calor de tu mirar

y como un loco te busqué

pero ya nunca te encontré

I lacked the sound of your voice

and the warmth of your eyes

and like a madman I looked for you

but I never could find you

y en otros besos me aturdí.

Mi vida toda fue un engaño!

¿Qué será, Gricel, de mí ?

Se cumplió la ley de Dios

porque sus culpas ya pagó

quien te hizo tanto daño.

and I succumbed to other kisses.

My life was such a fake!

What will I become, Gricel?

It was the law of God

because his mistakes already paid

the one who hurt you so much.