Manuel Gregorio Argerich was born in Buenos Aires in 1835. His brother, Juan Antonio, was born in 1840 and was, like Manuel, a key figure during the cholera and yellow fever epidemics. He helped organize the commission to organize a plan to manage the epidemic with José Roque Pérez. He was a professor at Clinica Quirurgica and director of an orphan's home. They were descendants of Dr. Cosme Argerich.
Argerich married and had children. Friend and writier, José Manuel Estrada said of his home life: "He asked, of his family, a clear and transparent sky in which to serenade his violent arguments; he loved his young wife deliriously, the only person under whose refuge he found peace and a tranquil candor - the soft passion and holy happiness that his contorted soul needed; his love for his children was violently disproportionate, incorporating the imagination of youth and the discretion of providence."
Battle of Caseros
As medical doctor, he was conscripted as a medical officer into the Unitarian Army under the command of Argentine caudillo Juan Manuel de Rosas in defense of Buenos Aires, tending to the care of wounded and injured soldiers, during the Battle of Caseros in which Rosas' authoritarian "Unitario" regime was finally defeated. Following the battle, when Rosas fled to Great Britain, Argerich was documented to have stayed in the field voluntarily after Rosas' defeat, treating not only wounded soldiers and fellow officers formerly under Rosas' command, but also Urquiza's soldiers stricken by smallpox, with complete indifference as to which uniform his patients wore.
Buenos Aires Epidemics
A year after Urquiza was assassinated, Argerich treated the victims of Buenos Aires' epidemics of Cholera in 1867 and Yellow Fever in 1871. Argerich was identified as one of the "avenging angels" who was not part of the mass exodus from the city, but stayed behind at his peril to minister to the sick who remained in Buenos Aires. He is depicted treating a patient alongside Dr. Roque Perez in Juan Manuel Blanes' iconic 1871 portrait, Yellow Fever of the great Buenos Aires epidemic of 1871.
Although he was committed to his responsibilities as a physician, he was conflicted, he said to José Manuel Estrata 3 days before he died: "My Children! My Wife! Have I the right to defy death and risk abandoning them forever?"
He is also remembered as a pioneer of the Spanish-Mestizo theatrical genre known as the Zarzuela. Argerich wrote the lyrics for Los Consejos de Don Javier, or The Advice of Don Javier, and was put to music in 1892 by Felice Lebano. It was first played at the Buenos Aires' Apollo Theater on September 1, 1892. In anticipation of the premier, La Nación issued a review on July 14, 1892 stating that the music by Lebano, in particular, made the work innovative, Zarzuela music. It was one of the first popular works of Zarzuela theater in Argentina.
During the great yellow fever epidemic of 1871, Argerich, tirelessly continued his care of the sick until finally succumbing to the disease on May 25, 1871, the 61st anniversary of the Argentine Revolution. He was one of the 13,614 victims of the Buenos Aires Yellow Fever epidemic.
In the sweet love of his home life, and in the severe labour of scientific inquiry, he searched for a moderation of his overflowing passions - which he always felt were delayed and out of harmony with the pace by which they had defined his nature in the heat of his youth.
Susceptible to all the turbulent agitations of the people, it was impossible for him to simply be indifferent to their bad fortune and desolation. This man of charity revealed himself with complete furor.
Manuel Argerich contributed to a renaissance by serving the poor - sign with which the Divine Master makes known to the people the coming of his Redemption.
Argerich is buried in Buenos Aires at the La Chacarita Cemetery (Spanish: Cementerio de la Chacarita). His gravesite was declared a National Monument in 1970 and is a highlight of prominent graves in a tour of that cemetery.
- Omar López Mato (1 January 2001). Ciudad de angeles: historia del cementerio de la Recoleta. OLMO Ediciones. p. 20. ISBN 978-987-43-3536-4.
- José Manuel Estrada, Albert Estrada Vilarrasa, Alberto Vilarrasa Estrada, Juan Mamerto Garro. "Obras completas de José Manuel Estrada, Volume 9 (Spanish)". pp. 576–581.
- "La Fundación de la Gran Logia". La Masonería Argentina. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
- "Vomito Negro (Spanish)". Revistapersona.com. Retrieved December 19, 2013.
- Walter Rela. "El Teatro de Florencio Sánchez (Spanish)". letras-uruguay.espaciolatino.com.
- Marcela Méndez. "Historia del arpa en la Argentina (Spanish)". p. 65.
- "Manuel Gregorio Argerich". Find a Grave. Retrieved December 19, 2013.