Composers Anecdotes
Dancing in Character: Bottiroli’s La tribu baila

José Antonio Bottiroli

José Antonio Bottiroli

When we think of a waltz, we think of the big waltzes in the Viennese style – sweeping gestures, sweeping gowns, and a multi-part complex composition. Argentine composer José Antonio Bottiroli (1920-1990), however, reduced the waltz to little works of some 20 to 30 seconds. His first group of 10 Microwaltzes were then re-considered as little character pieces, where seven of the ten microwaltzes were recast as depicting members of the Alessio family, collected under the title of La tribu bailu (The Tribe Dances).

Orlanda and Nicolás Alessio, with their young son Carlos

Orlanda and Nicolás Alessio, with their young son Carlos

Bottiroli’s mentor, Nicolás Alfredo Alessio (1919-1985), is shown as the Grandfather of the Tribe. Alessio was part of a very musical family, where he and his five brothers all studied music. In 1951 he was appointed Director of the Provincial Conservatory of Córdoba “Félix T. Garzón”. He lost this position in the 1955 coup d’etat when Joan Perón was overthrown. From 1961, however, he taught at the National University of Córdoba, in the School of the Arts.

We open with Grandfather, Nicolás, who is shown as the Tribe’s Chief:

Bottiroli: 10 Microvalses (Microwaltzes), B42: La tribu baila (‘The Tribe Dances’), B 114: No. 1. Nono Nicolás: Cacique

No. 2 moves to his wife, Grandmother Orlanda, with a lighter aspect.

Bottiroli: 10 Microvalses (Microwaltzes), B42: La tribu baila (‘The Tribe Dances’), B 114: No. 2. Nona Orlanda: Su mujer

Now the daughters appear – first the party girl, dancing into the light. Nicolás and Orlanda had one son, Carlos, and two daughters: Beatriz Leonor and Mara Noemí.

Bottiroli: 10 Microvalses (Microwaltzes), B42: La tribu baila (‘The Tribe Dances’), B 114: No. 3. Hija I: Bolichera en ‘Puntas’

Then the more responsible younger sister, who serves as the secretary to the tribe.

Bottiroli: 10 Microvalses (Microwaltzes), B42: La tribu baila (‘The Tribe Dances’), B 114: No. 4. Hija II: Secretaria de tribu

Is that the sound of the son-in-law running away or the police sirens? Title: Son-in-Law: Wanted by the Police.

Bottiroli: 10 Microvalses (Microwaltzes), B42: La tribu baila (‘The Tribe Dances’), B 114: No. 5. Yerno: Requerido porla ‘Poli’

Finally, we get to the granddaughters, first a study in restlessness, with unending questions.

Bottiroli: 10 Microvalses (Microwaltzes), B42: La tribu baila (‘The Tribe Dances’), B 114: No. 6. Nieta II: ¿Qué pasa, señor?

And the second granddaughter, who is fearful of nature’s power as an earthquake shakes.

Bottiroli: 10 Microvalses (Microwaltzes), B42: La tribu baila (‘The Tribe Dances’), B 114: No. 7. Nieta I: ¡Ojo, terremoto!

Nicolás Alessio and Jose Bottiroli playing duets

Nicolás Alessio and Jose Bottiroli playing duets

It’s an interesting concept – reducing the big waltz down to just a gesture – and one that’s so small that you can pin it to a person as a picture.

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