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El Señor del Tango (Part 1)

posted Mar 9, 2014, 4:26 PM by Sophia de Lautour   [ updated Jan 12, 2015, 6:08 PM ]
carlos di sarli tango
What an incredible influence Carlos di Sarli  (el Señor del Tango) has had on the music of Argentine Tango! 

Here's a bit about the first two decades of the life of this gifted pianist, leader and composer...

But first... why the nickname 'El Señor del Tango' , translated as 'the Gentleman / Lord of Tango'? This nickname is due to the elegance of his music and his rich musical legacy:

"Di Sarli is to tango what Duke Ellington is to American popular music. They both explored sophisticated and complex simplicity - and encouraged every sensual inclination." 

Di Sarli was born on January 7, 1903 in the South of Argentina in the province of Bahia Blanca, which he immortalised in a song of the same name. 

He was the eighth child of an Italian immigrant family. His parents were Serafina Russomano and Miguel Di Sarli, the owner of a gunsmith store.  Baptized as Cayetano Di Sarli, in accordance with his Catholic tradition, he later changed his name to Carlos.

The musical gene was rampant in Di Sarli's family! His mother was the daughter of the tenor singer Tito Russomano.  His older brother Domingo was a teacher at a music conservatory in Bahía Blanca. Nicolas, another older sibling, became a famous baritone, and his younger brother, Roque, became a pianist. 

At a young age Di Sarli received training in classical music in the conservatory where his brother was teaching.  At the age of 13 (to the upset of his father and piano teacher) he joined a company of travelling musicians who were performing popular music including  tango. By that age he had mastered playing classical music on the piano, and at that time tango music was becoming very popular.

Shortly before joining the company he lost an eye as the result of the accidental discharge of a firearm in his father's gun shop. Di Sarli would subsequently always wear dark sunglasses to cover the wound.

At the age of 16 Di Sarli composed his first tango 'Meditación' but he never recorded it himself.  At the same age he set up his own tango orchestra and played mostly in the province of Bahia Blanca until he turned 20 and moved to Buenos Aires.