The Bandonéon

May 2018

The bandonéon is inseparable from the tango and is the consequence of an improbable meeting. Unlike other instruments of the early Tango era such as violin, flute, harp and guitar, which have a long tradition in Argentinian music, the bandonéon was a totally new instrument that will require the creation of a technique for the interpretation of tango and despite of this or for that would become the symbolic instrument of tango.

The first copies arrived in Argentina at the end of the 19 th century around 1870. There are different anecdotes, unverifiable, concerning the first bandonéon: an English or German sailor would have given it in payment of his debts to a pub owner or a Brazilian, Bartolo, would have received a German and would have come to Argentina ....

But the instrument arrived without method and without any documentation. The first "Fueyeros", fans of the "Fueye" nickname of the bandonéon will discover the instrument empirically, completely self-taught. A musician was then proud to say "I can play three tangos" as it was so difficult to use the instrument correctly.

The first self-proclaimed maestro was "El Pardo" Sebastian who teached to the first bandoneonists like Vicente Greco. Every bandoneonist was also a teacher and so a line of musicians developed, such as Juan Maglio "Pacho", Manuel Pizarro, Anselmo Aieta, Pedro Maffia, Osvaldo Fresedo. The one who was really going to theorize and deepen the teaching was the pianist Arturo Bernstein, who will be able to bring forth the greatest of the greatest: Anibal Troilo, Pedro Laurenz, Jose Garcia, Leopoldo Federico.

The increasing importance of the bandonéon will lead to the disappearance of the flute in the family of tango instruments. No instrument expresses the strength and "sentimiento" of the tango as well like the bandonéon. An anonymous German immigrant, the bandonéon became the symbolic instrument, the soul of Tango.

© 2017 by Naranjo en Flor Tangoschule in Regensburg