Carlos Gardel

Carlos Gardel

picture of Carlos Gardel

Carlos Gardel was the Buenos Aires tango king at one time. Although his birth place is a mystery , Carlos Gardel is generally thought to have been born as Charles Romuald Gardés in Toulouse, France to unknown father and Berthe Gardés. Whenhe was 2, he came to Argentina and his name was Hispanicized. When asked about his nationality he would answer I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the age of 2 years and a half.

Gardel began his career singing in bars and parties and in 1913 formed a duet with José Razzano (which would last until 1925), singing a wide variety of folk songs. Gardel made the music his own by inventing the tango-canción in 1917 with “Mi Noche Triste”, which sold a 100,000 copies and was a hit throughout Latin America. Gardel went on to tour Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia and made appearances in Barcelona, Paris and New York. He sold 70,000 records in the first three months of a 1928 visit to Paris. As his popularity grew, he made a number of films, which were essentially vehicles for his singing and his matinee-idol looks.

Gardel possessed a dark baritone voice which he used with excellent musicality and dramatic phrasing, creating miniature masterpieces among the hundreds of three-minute tangos which he recorded during his lifetime. Together with his long-term collaborator, lyricist Alfredo Le Pera, Gardel also wrote several classic tangos, notably “Mi Buenos Aires Querido”, “Volver”, “Por una cabeza”.

When Gardel and his collaborator Le Pera were killed in an airplane crash in Medellín, Colombia in 1935, millions of his fans throughout Latin America went into mourning. Hordes of people went to pay their respects as the singer’s body travelled via Colombia, New York and Rio de Janeiro to its final resting place in La Chacarita cemetery in Buenos Aires.

Gardel is still revered in Buenos Aires, where people like to say of him “he sings better every day.” His fans still like to place a lit cigarette in the fingers of the life-sized statue which adorns his tomb. One of Gardel’s favorite phrases, Veinte años no es nada (Twenty years is nothing) became a famous saying across Latin America.

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About the author of this blog.

Tom Wick is an American expat living in Buenos Aires. An expert travel consultant and tour guide offering free travel inforamtion and private guided tours of Buenos Aires.

Contact Me

Please write to me about any Buenos Aires Argentina travel information or about living in Buenos Aires as an expat. tangohistorytours@gmail.com

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