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The Great Tango Orquestas

The Great Tango Orquestas

Most of the music you will hear at a good average milonga will be from tango’s “Edad de Oro” - The Golden Age - which is said to have lasted from 1935 to 1955. In reality most of the best tango music we love dancing to today was made between 1935 and 1945.Some very good music was also produced in the late forties and fifties, but it was often more complex and sophisticated, and not always as good to dance to

During the Golden Age there were four orchestras that can be said to define tango music of the time, and that every tango dancer should know about:

  • Juan D’Arienzo y Su Orquesta Tipica
  • Carlos Di Sarli y Su Orquesta Tipica
  • Anibal Troilo Y Su Orquesta Tipica
  • Osvaldo Pugliese y Su Orquesta Tipica

These four orquestas were very different in character,  in this short article I would like to briefly introduce them:

Juan DÀrienzo - “El Rey del Compas” - The King of the Beat


Of these musicians it can be said that it was Juan D’Arienzo who really sparked off the Golden Age and got more people dancing tango in Buenos Aires than ever before! His music was very rhythmic, with a strong danceable beat. His style became firmly established when the pianist Rodolfo Biagi joined his orquesta, and changed little throughout the rest of his career. In many ways his music was rather one dimensional, it was frowned upon by some musical purists, but it is great to dance to and most importantly the public loved it - they made him the most successful band leader of the Golden Age.

Listen to this 1936 recording of La Viruta to hear him at his best!

Hør musikken på Youtube: La Viruta, Juan D'Arienzo

Læs også: Juan D'Arienzo

Carlos Di Sarli - “El Senor del Tango” - The Lord of the Tango


The music produced by the pianist and band leader Carlos Di Sarli is also characterised by a strong danceable beat, but this orquesta placed a much greater emphasis on melody. The violins dominated the orquesta’s sound, handling both the rhythm and melody, while Di Sarli himself added “the style” with his wonderful bell like piano fills linking the musical phrases. He worked with many great singers during his career, but today he is possibly most famous for his late instrumentals. Bahia Blanca, his own composition named after his place of birth is one of the best loved numbers in all of tango….

Hør musikken på Youtube: Bahia Blanca, Carlos Di Sarli


Anibal Troilo - “Pichuco” - Cry Baby


Regarded as the greatest bandoneon player of them all by the inhabitants of Buenos Aires, Troilo’s orquesta from the early 1940s was truly sensational. Together with the singer Fransico Fiorentino and outstanding musicians such as the pianist Orlando Goni, bandoneonist Astor Piazolla and double bass player Enrique Diaz, this orquesta has one of, if not the very best. Troilo moulded the sound of his orquesta to suit the singer, he was the musician everybody wanted to sing for. His music was full of contrast, choppy “staccato” passages were contrasted with smooth “legato” sections and full of excitement. In milongas today it is this early period that is most heard. The orquesta evolved over time, developing a slower richer style, before finally adopting a “concert” style at the end of the golden age. Listen to En Esta Tarda Gris to get a feel for this brilliant orquesta:

Hør musikken på Youtube: En Esta Tarda Gris, Troilo 


Osvaldo Pugliese


Pianist and band leader Osvaldo Pugliese produced intense, passionate music, full of soft -hard contrasts. In the 1940’s he developed what was know as the yumba beat, which came to be his trademark. His music was rather avant garde in nature, much of it still sounding modern today. It reflected the sounds of industrial machinery and city life, and found its greatest popularity amonst the working class barrios of Buenos Aires. A lifelong communist he was often persecuted by the authorities, but this didn’t dent his popularity with the public. His music is often played late in the evening at milongas, giving dancers to dance both expressively and in a slow and intimate manner. The tango Negrancha is a great example of the “yumba” sound:

Hør musikken på Youtube: Negrancha, Osvaldo Pugliese

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