Posts Tagged ‘Gente de tango’

The artistry of Carlos Di Sarli

September 13, 2009

El Señor del Tango, as he was named, didn’t permit anyone to film him at the piano.  When someone approached, he stopped playing.  He died in 1960 at the age of 57 with his artistic secrets.

In 1981, a group of musicians decided to form an orquesta playing the Di Sarli style.  They became Gente de Tango.  They were faced with the daunting task of notating the complete scores of Di Sarli arrangements which never existed on paper.  All Di Sarli’s arrangements were created in daily rehearsals.  The scores had to be recreated by listening to the recordings.

I first met the amateur musicians of Gente de Tango in 2005 at a rehearsal in Villa Devoto.  I refer to them as amateurs because most of them pursued Guillermo Silvio Durantecareers in something other than music.  Like Carlos Di Sarli, Guillermo Durante directs the orquesta from the piano.  He is the master of the Di Sarli style.  It occurred to me recently that I should film Guillermo at the piano during a performance.

Gente de TangoOrquesta Tipica Gente de Tango performed at Nuevo Salón La Argentina, and I was there to record Guillermo’s hands at the piano.  The salón has a grand piano on stage, and I was able to film from the left side of the keyboard.  It was the first time I watched him as he played Porteño y Bailarin, El Amanacer, Verdemar, A la gran muñeca, and Milonguero viejo.  Guillermo couldn’t understand why I wanted to film him.  It didn’t take much imagination to feel as if I was watching Carlos Di Sarli himself at the piano while filming Guillermo.  It was moving to say the least. 

Guillermo Durante has already passed the age at which Di Sarli died.  He should be sharing his expertise with young pianists so that future generations of musicians will continue to recreate the Di Sarli style for dancing.  We always will have the recordings of Di Sarli, but a live performance is very special.

Carlos Di Sarli

January 6, 2009

January 7, 1903 — January 12, 1960

Carlos Di Sarli is called “Lord of Tango” for good reason.  He was a pianist, composer, and orchestra leader who left a rich legacy.

I used a cassette tape of Di Sarli recordings for my tango classes in Chicago, but it wasn’t until I heard more of his recordings in the milongas of Buenos Aires that I learned to appreciate the greatness of his artistry.  The deejay at my favorite milonga knows that I wait patiently for the Di Sarli tandas.  Dancing one tanda of Di Sarli with a milonguero is enough to satisfy me for the night.  The other day I danced a tanda of Di Sarli, ending with Junto a tu corazon (Hoy como ayer).  I love this tango so much that I had to buy the sheet music with lyrics

Di Sarli never allowed anyone to film him while he played piano with the orchestra nor did he notate his elaborate piano improvisations.   They were painstakingly transcribed from recordings.  Today is it possible to experience Di Sarli’s unique style at the piano as it is recreated by Guillermo Durante, pianist since 1982 with Orquesta Tipica Gente de Tango in Buenos Aires. 


photo from