Hector Varela


Composer, arranger, and bandoneonist (1914 – 1987)



Hector Varela was the main bandoneoist and arranger in the Juan D'Arienzo’s tango orchestra. When he was only 16, he became a member of Salvador Grupilla's orchestra. After that, he then joined Alberto Gambino, who introduced him to the media on the radio show Chipazos De Tradicion.

As a student of "the king of rhythm", Juan D'Arienzo – with who he played for 10 years – he was well known by his precision, traditional sound, and above all – by powerful rhythm. The most important fact about Varela and his orchestra was that he played tango for dance, and designated it to his dancing audience.

In 1939 he formed his first tango orchestra, which had a similar style as Varela’s master D'Arienzo – a style very popular among young dancers.

At that time he became a well known tango musician and bandoneonist, and he was competitive with Cayetano Puglisi, Carlos Lazzari, Fulvio Salamanca, and others.

Radio stations were always playing Varela’s hits; in dance halls, his tango was the most popular. At that time he recorded about 20 compositions such as Lilian,Don Alfonso, and Tres Horas. His concerts were so crowded that they caused traffic-jams – almost everyone just wanted to hear and dance Varela’s tango.

At the peak of his career in 1950, he leaves his orchestra and forms a new tango band. Everyone expected that the new tango orchestra would follow the tradition of Juan D’Arienzo; however, Varela presented a completely new music and rhythm.

His success was huge; his new tango was played on most popular radio stations. That first record from 1950 is where his famous tango compositions were recorded: El Flete, Farolito Viejo, Un Bailongo, Tal Para Cual, etc. His orchestra consisted of Cesar Zagnoli, Antonio Marchese, Alberto San Miguel, Hugo Boralis, Mario Abramovic, and singers Armando Laborde and Rodolfo Lesica.

He had played all over the South Latin America; he even recorded Noches de Brasil as an reaction to that time an his stay in Brasil and Rio. As a part of that period, other compositions – characteristic by their strong rhythm – were born: Mi Corason es un Violin, and Historia de un Amor.

At that time he performed at almost all milongas and tango clubs, and those were the years of his greatest success. In 1960s and later, he played for various TV channels, as well as in famous show Grandes Valores del Tango.

Varela was a brilliant musician that accomplished a great success on the market and among his audience – especially young tango dancers.

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