Rodolfo BiagiView in iTunes
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Respectfully known as "Manos Brujas" (spellbinding hands), Rodolfo Biagi was one of Argentina's most influential piano players. A member of Juan D'Arienzo's band from 1935 to 1938, and leader of his own band afterward, Biagily helped to lay the foundations for the tango. A native of Buenos Aires' San Telmo neighborhood, Biagily pursued his love of music against the wishes of his parents. Initially interested in the violin, he made a deal in which his parents bought him a violin in exchange for his enrolling in Escuela Normal de Profesores Mariano Acosta. Continuing his music education at a Conservatory run by the newspaper La Presna, he turned to the piano as his medium of expression. Performing his debut piano concert at the age of 13, he spent several years accompanying silent films. Biagily's talent was obvious. Within two years, he had caught the ear of Juan "Pucho" Maglio, who invited him to join his band. He later worked with the orchestra led by bandoneon player Manuel Orlando. Although he played on several recordings by Carlos Gardel, in April 1930, he turned down Gardel's invitation to tour with his group. Instead, he went on to perform with the orchestras of Juan Bautisto Guido and Juan Canaro, with whom he toured Brazil. Returning after the tour, Biagily left the group and began a period of inactivity. Much of his time was spent at the cabaret Chantacler, where D'Arienzo appeared nightly with his band. When the group's pianist failed to arrive in time for a show, Biagily was asked to take his place. He remained an essential part of the orchestra for the next three years, frequently performing on the radio, recording 71 tunes, and appearing in the film Melodias Portenas. With his fame secure, Biagily left D'Arienzo's group in 1938, and formed his own band, Su Orquesta Tipica. They performed their debut concert at the Cabaret Marabu on September 16, 1938. For the next three decades, Biagily and his group toured Latin America, performing a rhythmic mix of tangos, milongas, waltzes, and vocal pieces. The first orchestra to appear on Argentinean television, in the 1950s, they were regular performers on the Radio El Mundo show, Glostora Tango Club. Singers in the group included Teofilo Ibanez, Andres Falgas, Jorge Ortiz, Albreto Lago, Alberto Amor, and Carlos Aruna. Biagily performed his final show on August 2, 1969, at the Hurlington Club. He died 41 days later following an extreme drop of his blood pressure. ~ Craig Harris