The International Day of Tango is celebrated annually on 11 December and started out as a joint birthday celebration for both Carlos Gardel, one the most famous and loved Argentine Tango singers of all time (“The Voice “, “The Creole Thrush”, “The Tango King”) and Julio De Caro, one of the most influential composers, violinists and orchestra conductors.
Carlos Gardel was born either in 1887, in Tacuarembó, Uruguay or in 1890 in Toulouse, France. By the age of 6 he was living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Gardel was famous for the dramatic phrasing of his tango ballads and lyrics, which were played in nightclubs and in films in the 1920s and 1930s. Sadly, Gardel died in a plane crash in Medellín, Colombia in 1935 while on tour. Listen to Gardel and learn more about his life on TodoTango/Gardel.
Julio De Caro was born in 1899, the second of 12 children with Italian roots. In 1924, Julio made his first recordings of a new tango music style that he believed was at the same instrumental level as Carlos Gardel’s style at vocal level. De Caro’s music introduced a “softer” and more passionate violin, which forever replaced the somewhat “marching” tango-arrangements from earlier recording years. De Caro died on 11 March 1980. You can hear some fine examples of De Caro’s music on TodoTango/de-Caro.
The day of celebration was instigated by the composer, producer and talent scout, Ben Molar who was also a personal friend of Julio de Caro.
However, it wasn’t easy to make the day an official celebration of tango! Molar first presented the idea to Ricardo T. Freixá the Secretary of Culture of the Municipality of Buenos Aires City in 1965. Freixá then had get the approval from all the arts organisations of that time; Sadaic , Argentores , Sade , Casa del Teatro, Sindicato Argentino de Músicos, Unión Argentina de Artistas de Variedades, Academia Porteña del Lunfardo, Radio Rivadavia, Fundación Banco Mercantil, La Gardeliana, Asociación Argentina de Actores and Asociación Amigos de la Calle Corrientes. It took 11 years to pass and finally on 29 November 1977 the Decree No. 5830/77 was signed by the Municipality of Buenos Aires City.
Some 13 days later during a tango festival organised by Molar at Luna Park, Buenos Aries, it was announced to some 15,000 dancers, musicians, singers, bands, broadcasters and journalists. Then on 23 December that same year, a decree was put forward and approved by the Secretary of Culture of the Nation, Dr Raúl Alberto Casa to make the 11 December a national day of tango in Argentina.
In 2009, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) approved a joint proposal by Argentina and Uruguay to include the tango in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists. Today, officially or not, this special day of celebration is recognised by tango enthusiasts and artists around the world. Happy birthday Carlos. Happy birthday Julio. Happy birthday Tango.