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by Sergio Mastro
Tango Club

Centennial of "La Cumparsita"

Description

Iconic tango composed by an Argentinean and Uruguayan 100 years ago, and probably the most played and danced, in all tango shows and milongas around the world and it is a tradition to be the last song in these events.

"La cumparsita" is a tango written at the end of 1916 by Gerardo Matos Rodríguez, with lyrics by Pascual Contursi and Enrique Pedro Maroni. Roberto Firpo, director and pianist of the orchestra that premiered the song, added parts of his tangos "La Gaucha Manuela" and "Curda Completa" to Matos' carnival march ("La Cumparsita"), resulting in "La cumparsita" as it is currently known.

There are contradictions of opinions as for the date and, as we shall further see, also about what orchestra was the first one to record it.

For Legido and for Matos Rodríguez´s grandniece, Rosario Infantozzi Durán, the dates are in 1917 and the first recording was by the Alonso-Minotto orchestra.

It is not at issue that the Roberto Firpo orchestra had been the first that played “La cumparsita” in public. The dispute is about the year.

Truth is that it turned a centennial and became one of the most famous tangos in its different versions.

About the title:

Cumparsa: Lunfardo (dialect of Buenos Aires) word that denotes a group of people that attends the carnival festivals dressed in a similar fashion (usually, but not exclusively, wearing masks). The term seems to be a corruption of the italian 'comparsa'.

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by Sergio Mastro