Horacio Salgán: the tango legend who revolutionized Argentine music | Afromeris

Horacio Salgán: the tango legend who revolutionized Argentine music | Afromeris
Horacio Salgán: the tango legend who revolutionized Argentine music | Afromeris

On a day like today in 1916, he was born in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Abasto. Horacio Salgán, who became a legend of our cultural bastion, Tango. From an early age, Salgán showed an extraordinary talent for music. He learned to play the piano when he was only six years old and quickly demonstrated exceptional mastery of the instrument, so much so that at the age of thirteen, he says, he was the best student at the National Conservatory. Throughout his career, he explored and expanded the limits of traditional tango, providing a harmonic and rhythmic complexity that distinguished him as an avant-garde.

The growth was dizzying since at the age of twenty he joined Roberto Firpo’s orchestra and, at the same time, he became an arranger for Miguel Caló’s orchestra. Years later, in 1944, he founded his own orchestra made up of four bandoneons, four violins, viola, cello, double bass and piano. His excellence would be heard, they say that Astor Piazzolla, at that time working with Aníbal Troilo’s orchestra, would escape to listen to Salgán’s orchestra.

Among his most notable works are iconic compositions such as “A fuego slowly”, “Don Agustín Bardi” and “El once”. These pieces not only capture the emotional essence of tango, but also reflect Salgán’s creative genius and his ability to fuse tradition with innovation. In addition to his extensive musical repertoire we can find within his legacy the book “Curso de Tango”, where he exposes all of his knowledge in the construction of tango and reveals working methods from his 85-year career.

Throughout his career, Salgán received numerous awards and recognitions for his contribution to the world of music. Among the most notable is the tribute from the Argentine National Music Academy, and the distinction as Emeritus Personality of Argentine Culture. But the greatest recognition always comes from peers and in that area there were no doubts about its legitimacy. In any case, Salgán cared about what was important, and recognized his roots in practice. This is how he transmitted it:

«Unintentionally, absolutely. There are many people who approach tango or other musical genres with the idea of ​​renewal. I didn’t approach tango to save it, or anything like that. I did it because I have love for the music of my country – tango and folklore -, because I have respect and devotion for music and for the genre, in this case tango. “I, among other things, practice all genres—classical, jazz, etc.—but I have a quasi-religious respect for all music itself, because music is a bridge to God.”

The end of Salgán’s career was marked by the celebration of his legacy and a renewed admiration for his music. His last public performance was at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires in 2011, where he was honored by colleagues and admirers from around the world.

Owner of a career as extensive as his repertoire, Horacio Salgán died at the age of one hundred, leaving an irreplaceable void in the world of tango. However, his music remains a source of inspiration for musicians around the world. On the anniversary of his birth, we fondly remember this legend of Argentine tango and celebrate his life and his music that will remain forever in our memory.

*Afro-Argentine artist and anti-racist activist from DIAFAR.

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