Enrique Santos Discépolo

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Enrique Santos Discépolo
Enrique Santos Discépolo.jpg
Background information
Birth nameEnrique Santos Discépolo
Born(1901-03-27)27 March 1901
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Died23 December 1951(1951-12-23) (aged 50)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
GenresTango, milonga
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, songwriter
InstrumentsPiano, Bandoneón, vocals
Years active1920s–1951
LabelsEl Bandoneon
Associated actsAstor Piazzolla, Carlos Gardel, Francisco Canaro

Enrique Santos Discépolo (Discepolín) (27 March 1901 – 23 December 1951) was an Argentine tango and milonga musician and composer, author of famous tangos such as "Cambalache" and many others performed by several of the most important singers of his time, amongst them notably Carlos Gardel. He was also a film actor, director and screenwriter.


Discépolo was born in Buenos Aires on 27 March 1901. He was attracted to the arts from an early age and tried acting and theater writing (with moderate success) before finally "arriving" to Tango. Even when his decision to write popular music wasn't totally separated from his previous exchanges with theater and acting, his older brother Armando resisted this move and therefore in the beginning things weren't easy for Enrique. Armando had taken over his education after his parent died when Enrique was very young.

He wrote a few songs (including, the later famous Que vachaché, an old lunfardo phrase meaning "Whatcha gonna do") with little success until his break came in 1928, when singer Azucena Maizani performed his Esta noche me emborracho ("Tonight I'm getting drunk"). Days after this performance, the lyrics to this tango circulated across the nation and gave him notoriety. Later on that year, actress and singer Tita Merello rescued Que vachaché, and propelled it to the same popularity as Esta noche me emborracho. To finish a great year in 1928, he also met his partner, Tania, who would be with him for the rest of his life.

He continued to gain notoriety in the ensuing years, and, in 1934, he wrote "Cambalache", a song whose lyrics not only reflected the world political climate of the era, but also almost predicted its future. Argentines sometimes contemplate on how much those lyrics still reflect life in the world today, some 80 years later.

Discépolo died after suffering a stroke on Christmas Eve in 1951.


Discépolo was not as prolific as some other Tango writers (like Enrique Cadícamo, for example), but he was very versatile in his styling. He was not only able to write ironic and moralistic songs ("Que vachaché", "Yira... yira...", "Que sapa señor", "Cambalache"), but also romantic ("Sueño de juventud"), sarcastic ("Justo el 31", "Chorra"), expressionist ("Soy un arlequín", "Quién más, quién menos"), passionate ("Confesión", "Canción desesperada") and nostalgic ones ("Uno", "Cafetín de Buenos Aires").

His tango songs, as those of most other tango composers, make extensive use of lunfardo, thus making understanding his lyrics an exercise in patience for listeners unused to that dialect.

Selected Songs[edit]

  • Infamia ("Infamy")
  • Que vachaché ("Whatcha gonna do")
  • Yira... yira... ("Go round... and round...")
  • Que sapa señor ("What's up sir")
  • Cambalache ("Junkshop")
  • Sueño de juventud ("Dream of youth")
  • Justo el 31 ("Right on the 31")
  • Chorra ("She-Thief")
  • Soy un arlequín ("I am a harlequin")
  • Quién más, quién menos ("Who more, who less")
  • Confesión ("Confession")
  • Canción desesperada ("Desperate song")
  • Uno ("One", in the figurative sense of "oneself")
  • Cafetín de Buenos Aires ("Buenos Aires Cafe")

Selected filmography[edit]

Discépolo directed or co-directed a number of films:[1]


  1. ^ "Enrique Santos Discépolo". IMDb. Retrieved 6 June 2014.

External links[edit]