La Cumparsita

In 1917,  a 17 year old architectural student entered the cafe 'La Giralda' in Montevideo, Uruguay.  The young man Gerardo Matos Rodriguez handed some music he had written to the tango orchestra of Roberto Firpo. Gerardo hadn't even written the music as a tango.  He had intended it as a march, but it had that 4 count beat of a tango.  Firpo added a few lines of his own and kept the music.

Firpo didn't even know the young man, and only remembered his first name was Gerardo. He had sold the music for 20 pesos and the tango was forgotten. Seven years later, in 1924, Gerardo was living in Paris, and he found Francisco Canaro playing and recording "La Cumparsita."  It had become a major hit in Paris and in Buenos Aires.

Within just a few years, La Cumparsita became the most popular tango in the world, and is today the most recognized music associated with the tango.  In many milongas, the dance floor opens and closes with La Cumparsita. (Check out the wonderful video of Horacio and Marissa Arcidiacono, instructors at Emory University dancing to La Cumparsita.)

Gerardo Matos Rodriguez, on the other hand, had to go to court in 1924 to reclaim the copyright to the music he had written and to a tango worth millions. The case wasn't settled until 1948.



Horacio and Marissa Arcidiacono, instructors at Emory University dance to La Cumparsita!

Resources

Playa, Ricardo García  La cumparsita. In Todotango.com. Retrieved 14:12, August 29, 2016, from http://www.todotango.com/english/history/chronicle/90/La-cumparsita/

La cumparsita. (2016, August 5). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13:02, August 29, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=La_cumparsita&oldid=733128390

La cumparsita. (2016, August 5). In www.EnlacesUruguayos.com Retrieved 13:29, August 29, 2016, from http://www.enlacesuruguayos.com/cumparsita.htm