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Julio De Caro

Musiker, violinist, orkesterledare och tonsättare
(f 11 december 1899. d. 11 mars 1980)

After starting in the second decade of the 20th century, close to the great creators of the period – Eduardo Arolas, Roberto Firpo and others – who had changed the early tango and after being influenced by the leading pioneers of melody construction of the genre – such as Juan Carlos Cobián and Enrique Delfino – the violinist Julio De Caro established with his sextet, as from 1924, a new and far-reaching style. This would gravitate, as no other had, in the tango history to come by widening its spiritual horizon. So much so that the De Caro school, in the instrumental level, and the Gardel school, in the vocal level, at the same time but separately were considered since then the supreme guide to tango interpretation in their corresponding areas.

De Caro maintained the essence of the tango originated in the slums, brave and playful as in the beginnings, but blending it with a sentimental and melancholic expressivity unknown up to then, so reconciling the folk root with the pro-European influence. His deeper academic training allowed him to dress his message in a polished musical language of unutterable enticement. His sextet recordings, sometimes lazy, sometimes bright, bring us the sounds of watercolors of a Buenos Aires with low houses, gray facades, streets with trees, blossoming gardens, paving stones and old streetcars. Or furthermore, of a harmonious political and social order in spite of the sharp controls of freedom and economic welfare which would brutally end in 1930 when the age of the coups d´état in Argentina began as a consequence of the world crisis.

To understand De Caro´s conception is important to take into account the tangos composed and played by De Caro himself, such as "Boedo", "Tierra querida" and many others. It was also essential the work of his brother Francisco, the sextet´s pianist and, as composer, the skillful creator of some of the most appreciated tangos in a lyrical romantic style, such as "Flores negras" o "Loca bohemia". The group switched between the passion in Francisco´s tangos and the paintings of urban landscapes and characters in Julio´s, with an easyness never achieved before.

The compositions by Pedro Laurenz were likewise fundamental. He was the bandoneonist in the sextet who brought everlasting pieces such as "Risa loca" or "Mal de amores". But in his huge repertory, De Caro never forgot the great composers outside his group whose tangos he interpreted under the new codes, making them ready for the choice of later decades by hundreds of orchestras disregarding if they played or not in De Caro´s way.

Julio was born in Buenos Aires in a large house on a street named Piedad in Balvanera neighborhood, as the second of twelve children within a family of Italian origin. His father, José (Giuseppe) De Caro De Sica (there was a kinship with the ancestors of the film maker Vittorio De Sica), wanted for his sons university studies and a formal musical instruction. He had been director of the Conservatory in the Teatro della Scala de Milano, so don Giuseppe decided that Julio would study piano and his brother Francisco, violin. But the boys exchanged instruments and what would be worse to challenge the feared paternal authority: they devoted to tango, causing a family break which would never be healed.

Arolas, the Bandoneon Tiger, gave accomodation to Julio, he was his artistic godfather and included him in his orchestra. In the years to follow he played with the bandoneon player Ricardo Luis Brignolo (composer of "Chiqué"), the pianist José María Rizzuti ("Cenizas"), the bandoneon player Osvaldo Fresedo ("Aromas"), the pianist Enrique Delfino ("Recuerdos de bohemia") and the Uruguayan bandoneonist Minotto Di Cicco, aka Mano brava, until he joined in 1923 the sextet of the pianist Juan Carlos Cobián ("Nostalgias").

When Cobián traveled to the United States towards the end of that year, De Caro formed his first sextet modelled after the one led by Cobián which included the bandoneonist Pedro Maffia, another major figure. Then a new era for tango was beginnning due to the efforts of a violinist who was noted more for his conception rather than his technique.

In 1924 he recorded his first records for Victor including two of his own tangos: "Todo corazón" and "Pobre Margot". In a period of thirty years he recorded 420 works, even though some collectors state they have found about twenty more. The main body of his discography is concentrated in the period 1924-1932, which is subdivided into two great series: the Victor company, up to 1928, and the Brunswick company, since 1929.

In 1933, De Caro entered into a stage of experimentation with widened orchestral masses and new timbres (winds, percussion) which, in the end, blurred the outline of the message (he himself had played a curious violin-cornet in the 20s).

Later, fortunately, he returned to his own sources but with the cost of falling into a kind of anachronism. Up to his retirement, he was the guardian of the noblest essences, he remained somewhat apart in the evolution of tango because of his strict obedience to historical Decarism in the instrumental aspect and for his reluctant acceptance of the central role of the singer in orchestras since 1940.

It is symptomatic that in that decade of enormous success for tango music, De Caro did not record for five years.

Between 1949 and 1953 he recorded 38 tunes for Odeon. That series represents an extremely important musical legacy because he recorded again works he had recorded before under poorer technical conditions and he also included some new ones.

It is worth mentioning "Aníbal Troilo" , a moving homage in tango music to the great bandoneonist, leader and composer . He also wrote the tango "Osvaldo Pugliese" for the musician who was his greatest epigone, but there are no recordings of it as there are not either records of "Piazzolla", a tribute to the other great tango innovator made by De Caro (and Piazzolla thanked him with "Decarísimo").

Out of his enormous work as composer we have to mention various fundamental tangos. Besides the abovementioned "Boedo" and "Tierra querida", these stand out: "Colombina" (with Francisco De Caro), "Copacabana", "Chiclana", "El arranque", "El bajel" (with Francisco), "El monito", "Guardia vieja", "La rayuela", "Loca ilusión", "Mala junta" (with Laurenz), "Mala pinta" and "Mi queja" (both with Francisco), "Moulin rouge", "Orgullo criollo" (with Laurenz), "Tierra querida", "Tiny" (with Maffia) and "Todo corazón".

December 11th was declared The Day of Tango because on that day, though in different years, Carlos Gardel and Julio De Caro were born.

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