El Amanecer (Dawn) was written by Roberto Firpo who recorded it three times beginning in 1913.
You can also see him playing it in a 1933 film (that’s him at the piano).
We most often hear Di Sarli’s version played at milongas.
Around 1937 the Orquesta Tipica Victor and Firpo himself introduced birds chirping in the trees, and this tradition was followed later by other orchestras such as Di Sarli above and
although in all of these later renditions, the birds usually had to wait until the end to really do their thing.
There is, however, much more content in the music to be uncovered.
From poet and tangologist Francisco García Jiménez in his book “Así Nacieron los Tangos” comes this interview with Firpo.
“I would return from La Boca to my small bedroom on Rioja street, on the the electric train #43 – called ‘the Imperial’ for it’s high floors with long white benches” ….. “During this time, on the top floor, traveled the construction workers …. and, the workers happy, singing, would travel to their destinations and factories. Below (lower floor), were the ‘calaveras’, bad breath, emaciated, yawning next to us who had been entertained by us during the night, returning to their empty lives from their night out”.
In his melody, Roberto Firpo wanted to express one and the other. At first, the symphony of the birds chirping on the trees and the sound of the workers’ hammers; later, he added the low sounds (referring to the low and strong sounds of the instruments), to reflect the morning pain from the indulgence of the all nighters.
So, El Amanecer as we hear it refers to dawn in the city of Buenos Aires. For those in the countryside, Héctor D’Esposito provided an alternative:
OK Tanguer@s….. how are you going to express the middle refrain in that one?
Author – A.W.