Osvaldo Pugliese

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Tango pianist Osvaldo Pugliese

Osvaldo Pedro Pugliese (Buenos Aires, December 2, 1905 – July 25, 1995, Buenos Aires) was an Argentine tango musician. He developed dramatic arrangements that retained strong elements of the walking beat of salon tango but also heralded the development of concert-style tango music. His father, Don Adolfo Pugliese, pushed him to work harder; his mother, Aurelia Terragno, often whispered to her son while he was practicing, al Colon (to the Colon), referring to Buenos Aires` famous Colon Theater, where only the country`s finest artists play. His other brothers Adolfo Vincente and Alberto Roque were violinists.

In 1918 he left primary school to work as a print graphic artist. His father finally convinced him to take classes with the teacher Antonio D'Agostino, at the Conservatorio Odeon.

Some of his music, mostly since the 1950s, is used for theatrical dance performances. In Buenos Aires, Pugliese is often played later in the evening when the dancers want to dance more slowly, impressionistically and intimately.

Pugliese is a great choice for slower tango dance music, but the arrangements can be a bit more rhythmically challenging than those played by other orchestras.[citation needed] He wrote his first tango, Recuerdo, or Memory, in 1924, when he was 19. Two years later, when it was finally recorded, it became a classic. 'La yumba' (1946) is another famous and most popular Pugliese's tangos compositions.

Pugliese was outspoken in his political opinions. His communist sympathies, though never violent, at times earned him the hostility of those in power. Populist President Juan Perón is said to have had labor union heavies once intimidate Pugliese by locking him in a sinking boat, rescuing him at the last minute; though the alleged 1949 incident has never been proven (Pugliese, likewise, seldom spoke of it publicly), the day Pres. Perón awarded the great pianist the Order of May (Argentina's highest civilian award), he embraced Pugliese, saying: "Thank you, maestro, for forgiving".[1] Pugliese reportedly responded, "Forgive what?"

Pugliese was a man of integrity and humility. He spent years in jail due to his beliefs. The government also restricted his recordings to 10 per year. As a communist, he organised his orchestra as a collective paid his orchestra by their contribution, and earned their loyalty. Quite rare, his core orchestra members (Osvaldo Ruggiero 1st bandoneon, Enrique Camerano 1st violin, Julio Carrasco and Oscar Herrero 2nd violins, Alcides Rossi on double bass) stayed with him nearly 30 years (1939-1968).

He was a member of the Communist Party starting in 1936. He also managed to help create "Sociedad de Musicos y Artistas Afines" to increase job stability and wages for musicians.

He was married two times, to María Concepción Florio “Choli” (in 1936) and to Lydia Elman (1970). His first wife died in 1971, and he had one daughter, Lucia Delma "Beba" Pugliese, from the marriage. She was born in 1939, and was also a pianist in her own right.

In 1939 he formed his orchestra as a cooperative and made his debut at Cafe National (Av. Corrientes 980 - "Cathedral of Tango") on the 11th of August, 1939.

The orchestra toured the former Soviet Union in 1959 (eighty cities in three months -- sometimes playing two or three shows a day) and also China (twenty- eight cities in another month), Chile (1990), Mexico, Columbia (1980), Peru, Cuba (1984, 1988, 1992), Japan (1965, 135 shows in five months; 1979, 1989), the U.S. (stopping in Chicago in 1979), the Middle East, France (1984), Portugal, Spain (1985; 1988 playing in Madrid, at Teatro Albéniz with the singer Joan Manuel Serrat, and Barcelona), Belgium, The Netherlands (with Piazzolla in Amsterdam, 29th of June 1989), Finland and almost all South and Central American countries: Uruguay (1987, Teatro Solís de Montevideo). For his work the maestro received high cultural distinctions, including from the Argentine, French and Cuban governments.

In 1961, he wrote Milonga Para Fidel to show his support for the Cuban revolution. When he was in jail, he still wrote arrangements and the orchestra still performed, and placed a red carnation on the keyboard of the piano in his honor.

The 1960s government of the late General Juan Carlos Ongana (who had a deep fear of Peronists and communists alike) simply banned Pugliese from radio broadcasts and public places.

At age 80, he was allowed on the 12th of December 1985 to give a concert in Teatro Colon, in Buenos Aires. He received 5 standing ovations. With characteristic humility he said: “The truth is...it’s a night of the people, of the masses, lovers of our genre, our beloved genre, tango.” The ceremony was led by Luis Brandoni and Hector Larrea. The orchestra's members that night were: Roberto Alvarez, Alejandro Previniano, Fabio Lapinta (bandoneons), Osvaldo Montermi, Fernando Rodriguez, Diego Lerenderi, Gabriel Rivas (violins), Merei Brain (Viola), Emil Cartolosa (double bass) and Osvaldo Pugliese (piano).

List of songs that were played a Teatro Colon:

  1. “Arrabal”
“Los Mareados”
  3. “Después” canta Abel Cordoba
  4. “Quinto Año” canta Adrian Guida
  5. “Chacabuqueando”
“A Evaristo Carriego”

  7. “Melodía de Arrabal” canta Abel Cordoba
“Almagro” canta Adrian Guida

  11. “Copacabana”

  12. “La cancion de Buenos Aires” canta Abel Cordoba
  13. “Contame una historia” canta Adrian Guida
“Mala Junta”
“Milonga para Gardel” cantan Adrian Guida y Abel Cordoba
“Desde el alma”
“La Yumba” with his old orchestra members too.
  19. “La Mariposa”

  20. "Toda Mi Vida"
  21. "El Encopao"

“La Yumba” song was sung with his old orchestra members also:

  • Oscar Herrero, violin (1943-1978)
  • Jorge Bruschi, violin (1980-1983)
  • Kike Lano, violocelist (1963-1973)
  • Silvio Pucci, violocelist (1973-1983)
  • Norberto Bernasconi, viola (1954-1978)
  • Alcides Rossi, contrabass (1970-1978)
  • Orscar Castagniaro, bandoneon (1943-1951)
  • Ismael Spitalnik, bandoneon (1956-1971)
  • Arturo Penón, bandoneon (1961-1984)
  • Julian Plaza, bandoneon (1959-1968)
  • Osvaldo Ruggiero, bandoneon (1939-1968)
  • Victor Lavallén, bandoneon (1959-1968)
  • Daniel Binelli, bandoneon (1968-1982)

He died after a short illness on the 25th of July 1995 at 89 years old. His remains are in Chacarita Cemetery in an imposing mausoleum, the work of Juan Carlos Ferraro (1997), which was made thanks to the generous contribution of his fans. His funeral received great attention with an impressive caravan that marched in reverse along Avenida Corrientes.

He participated as an actor in the films:

  • "My five children",
  • "Tango and tango"
  • "Coexistence".
  • "Thank you very much teacher." an unfinished documentary, in 1993.


In 1986, during the management of the radical Julio César Saguier, CABA declared him Ciudadano Ilustre.

In 1988 he was awarded with the title of Commander of Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France.

In 1992, on 11th of November he was awarded "Alejo Carpentier" from Cuba, the most important cultural distinction awarded by the Cuban government


  1. ^ Clarín, 26 July 1995.

External links[edit]

Memorial to Osvaldo Pugliese, Villa Crespo, Buenos Aires.