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Juan José Castro’s Tangos. Musical Portrayals of Male Characters of the Argentine Tango
  • Oscar E Macchioni, University of Texas at El Paso


Juan José Castro composed Tangos for piano in 1941. Perhaps, this is the first work for piano by a major Argentinean art-music composer that includes tango rhythm. Each tango describes a male character associated with the Argentine tango, exploring the musical, social, and cultural representation of these characters.

The first piece in the set “Evocación” (Evocation) serves as an introduction to the following four tangos. In an impressionistic and improvisatory manner, Castro evokes the famous tango La Cumparsita. The second piece “Llorón” (Whiner) portrays a common character of tango’s lyrics: a male whining, crying, and complaining about politics, family, and love. The third one is “Compadrón” and despite political implications, compadre, compadrito, and compadrón refer to the hero or anti-hero of the neighborhoods who eventually becomes a fighter, robber, or killer. The fourth one “Milongero” refers to the character that likes to party and dance milongas, a dance from the Pampas which is believed that later developed into the tango. In this case, Castro used a two-part invention-like to stress the dance implications of the milonga. Finally, “Nostálgico” (Nostalgic) is another character that emerges in most tangos, someone who is unsatisfied and always remembers better times. In this piece, Castro evokes a traditional tango, Nueve de Julio, and in the coda he imitates the dry sound of the bandoneón through descending full chords. (c) 2006

Publication Date
March 10, 2006
Citation Information
Oscar E Macchioni. "Juan José Castro’s Tangos. Musical Portrayals of Male Characters of the Argentine Tango" (2006)
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