The festive period delivered two heavy blows to Argentine culture this week, after writer, historian and journalist Osvaldo Bayer and folklore legend Jaime Torres both passed away on Christmas Eve.
The duo are the latest cultural touchstones sadly lost this year, following in the footsteps of figures such as Hermenegildo ‘Menchi’ Sábat, Débora Pérez Volpin and Julio Blanck.
Osvaldo Bayer, born 18 February, 1927, in Santa Fe, passed away in the capital on Monday aged 91, his relatives confirmed via social media.
Bayer, who famously once described himself as an “ultrapacifist anarchist – at all costs,” was considered the authority on the Patagonian Rebellion, following his painstaking research of the brutal suppression of a rebellion by rural workers in Santa Cruz province that began in 1920.
His iconic multi-volume book on the subject, La Patagonia rebelde, published in the 1970s, inspired a movie (on which he was a co-writer) and eventually, his exile from Argentina to Berlin, Germany, where he stayed until democracy returned.
The accomplished writer also contributed to media outlets such as Noticias Gráficas, El Esquel de la Patagonia, Clarín and Página/12.
Human rights organisations and social groups paid tribute to Bayer, after his passing on December 24, with filmmaker and senator Fernando ‘Pino’ Solanas describing him as a “master” and “one of our great intellectuals.”
Jaime Torres, born 21 September, 1938, in San Miguel de Tucumán, was a renowned folklorist who spread the sound of the charango far and wide.
The son of Bolivian immigrants to Argentina, Torres is widely considered to be one of Argentina’s greatest-ever charanguistas.
Famed not just for his interpretations of songs, but also his skills as a composer, Torres began learning the Andean instrument under the tuition of Bolivian musician Mauro Núñez, who taught him to play the instrument of five sets of two strings.
The folklore legend died last Monday (December 24) at a clinic, where he had been receiving treatment.
“Jaime Torres played with everyone, his legacy is inexhaustible,” said music and audiovisual producer Silvia Majul, paying tribute.
Torres, a prolific recording artist, released dozens of records over his lifetime and played shows across the world, often while guesting with other musicians on their own tracks.
Popular locally, he twice performed concerts at the famous Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, in 1972 and 1990, when only classical performances were common at the capital’s famous opera house.
Famously, he also added his own distinctive musical touch on the famous 1964 recording of the Ariel Ramírez creation, Misa Criolla.
As well as regionally, he also found fame in the United States, after his score for the local picture La deuda interna (also known as Verónico Cruz: La deuda interna) set in Jujuy against the backdrop of the Malvinas War, was nominated for an Oscar.
Cultural figures we lost this year
– January 11: Noemi Lapzeson, age 77, dancer, choreographer.
– February 6: Liliana Bodoc, 59, author.
– February 6: Débora Pérez Volpin, 50, journalist, politician, deputy in the Buenos Aires City Legislature.
– March 14: Emilio Disi, 75, actor, humourist.
– April 26: Elvira Orphée, 95, writer, Guggenheim Fellow.
– May 26: Antonio Pujía, 88, Italian-born sculptor.
– June 1: Poldy Bird, 76, writer. – June 11: Norma Bessouet, 77, artist.
– June 23: Violeta Rivas, 80, singer, actress.
– July 10: Alicia Bellán, 86, actress.
– July 26: María Concepción César, 91, actress, singer, dancer.
– July 28: Guillermo Bredeston, 84, actor.
– September 2: Elsa Bloise, 92, stage actress.
– September 7: Julio Blanck, 64, journalist.
– September 13: Roxana Darín, 87, actress.
– October 2: Hermenegildo Sábat, 85, Uruguay-born artist, caricaturist.
– October 11: Hebe Uhart, 81, writer.
– October 22: Horacio Cardo, 74, painter, illustrator.
– November 26: Tomás Maldonado, 96, painter, designer.
– December 18: Augusto Fernandes, 81, actor, stage director.