100 years of "La Cumparsita"
"La cumparsita" is a tango written in 1916 by the Uruguayan musician Gerardo Matos Rodríguez, with lyrics by Pascual Contursi and Enrique Pedro Maroni. It is among the most famous and recognizable tangos of all time. Roberto Firpo, director and pianist of the orchestra that premiered the song, added parts of his tangos "La Gaucha Manuela" and "Curda Completa" to Matos' carnival march ("La Cumparsita"), resulting in "La cumparsita" as it is currently known.
The song was originally a march, whose melody was composed in early 1916 by an architecture student in Montevideo, an 18-year-old man named Gerardo Hernán Matos Rodríguez. On 8 February 1916, Matos Rodríguez had his friend Manuel Barca show orchestra leader Roberto Firpo the music in the cafe called La Giralda. Firpo looked at the music and quickly determined that he could make it into a tango. As presented to him it had two sections; Firpo added a third part taken from his own little-known tangos "La gaucha Manuela" and "Curda completa", and also used a portion of the song "Miserere" by Giuseppe Verdi from the opera Il trovatore.
La Cumparsita is very popular at milongas (Tango social gatherings); it is a common tradition for it to be played as the last dance of the evening.
The song was named cultural and popular anthem of Uruguay by law in 1997