Carlos Gardel Bigography

Gardel rivals Astor Piazzolla as the most important single figure in tango history; if Piazzolla was roughly tango’s equivalent of Duke Ellington, then Gardel was certainly its Frank Sinatra — a towering giant of a vocalist, macho yet sensitive, with an unequalled affinity for the popular song of his homeland

A statue of Carlos Gardel outside the Abasto Market in Buenos Aires, near which he grew up.

Carlos Gardel (11 December 1887/18901 – 24 June 1935) was an enormously popular Argentina-raised tango singer during the inter-war years, whose birth-place has been largely disputed. His death in an aeroplane crash at the height of his career created an image of a tragic hero on both shores of the Río de la Plata. For many music fans, Gardel embodies the soul of the tango, a musical form and dance which evolved in the barrios of Buenos Aires and Montevideo at the end of the 19th century.

Gardel with Blanca Vischer in the film
“El Tango en Broadway”.

Gardel possessed a baritone voice deployed with unerring 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, Amores de Estudiante, Soledad, Volver, Por una cabeza and El di­a que me quieras.

Carlos Gardel singing career

Gardel, United States 1934

Gardel began his career singing in bars and at private parties and in 1911 formed a duet with Francisco Martino, and after with José Razzano (which would last until 1925), singing a wide repertory. Gardel made the music his own by inventing the tango-canción in 1917 with Mi Noche Triste, a Pascual Contursi and Samuel Castriota’s theme, which sold 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, Madrid, 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 for Paramount in France and the U.S., which were essentially vehicles for his singing and matinée-idol looks.

Carlos Gardel in airplane crash

When Gardel and his collaborator Le Pera were killed in an aeroplane crash in Medellín, Colombia in 1935, millions of his fans throughout Latin America went into mourning. Hordes of people thronged to pay their respects as the singer’s body travelled via Colombia, New York and Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo, Uruguay where his mother lived. There he was put on lit de parade while thousands of Uruguayans rendered homage to their beloved singer. After two days the singer’s body travelled to its final resting place in La Chacarita Cemetery in Buenos Aires.

Gardel Legacy

Gardel is still revered from Buenos Aires to Tokyo, where people like to say that “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 favourite phrases, Veinte años no es nada (Twenty years is nothing) became a famous saying across Latin America.

Carlos Gardel Filmography


1935 El Dia Que Me Quieras
1935 Tango Bar
1934 El Tango En Broadway
1934 Cuesta Abajo
1932 Melodia de Arrabal
1931 Luces de Buenos Aires
1931 Esperame
1930 Mano a Mano

Discography

Carlos Gardel – Lo Mejor de lo Mejor

2006 Mi Noche Triste
2006 Definitive Gold [Bonus DVD]
2005 Recital Ideal
2005 Passion of Argentina
2004 Tangos Argentinos
2004 Gold Collection
2004 Esta Siempre Vivo
2004 Chansons de Ses Films
2003 Volver
2003 For Export
1999 Cumparsita Y Sus Mejores Tangos, Vol. 1
1991 Carlos Gardel “For Export”
1990 Su Majestad El Tango
1953 Tangos Immortalizados

Disc: 1
1. Volver
2. El Dia Que Me Quieras
3. Malevaje
4. Lo Han Visto Con Otra
5. Soledad
6. La Mariposa
7. Estudiante
8. El Carretero
9. Cuesta Abajo
10. Carnaval

Disc: 2
1. Silencio
2. Caminito
3. La Cumparsita
4. Milonga Sentimental
5. Mi Buenos Aires Querido
6. Duelo Criollo
7. Por Tus Ojos Negros
8. Criollita Deci Que Si
9. Volvio Una Noche
10. Ausencia