Martín Bauer

Gaucho Poetry’s Impact on Contemporary Music

Monday, 13 May, 2019 - 6:30pm
Free, until full capacity is reached
Study Centre
Organized by
Museo Reina Sofía
José Luis Espejo
Martín Matalón and Oscar Strasnoy, The Shadow of Wenceslao, Ópera de Rennes, 2016
Martín Matalón and Oscar Strasnoy, The Shadow of Wenceslao, Ópera de Rennes, 2016

On a rose-coloured piebald,

A new load on even ground,

Falling back, a trotting sound,

Beautifully sat now,

A countryman from Bragao,

Last name Laguna:

Young horseman, wowee!

In my eyes there is no other fellow,

Able to take a foal

And rein it in on the moon, like he.


Estanislao del Campo, The Creole Fausto, 1866

The Museo Reina Sofía presents a performance lecture and poetry recital on gaucho poetry and its relationship to contemporary music, conducted by Argentinian musician Martín Bauer. This literary genre is one of the most original phenomena in Río de la Plata literature, with its influence enduring for over a hundred years in Argentinian humanities, giving rise to variants and offshoots while also leaving its mark on European genres such as opera and musical theatre.   

Jorge Luis Borges said: “knowing how a character speaks is knowing who they are; discovering an intonation, a voice, a strange syntax is to discover a destiny”. This quote, which appears in a brief essay the Argentinian writer penned on gauchoesque poetry, grants us a formidable framework for contemplating the relationships that emerged between music, literature and theatre by way of this genre. This is precisely what gaucho poetry explores: the emerging voice, tone and gaucho syntax of a La Pampa dweller, yet written by cultured men of the city in rhyming octosyllable verses.

In his intervention, Bauer will survey, in detail, two core pieces in this poetry:  

El Fausto Criollo (The Creole Faust, 1866) by Estanislao del Campo and José Hernández’s El Gaucho Martín Fierro (1872). Such was their impact almost one hundred years later that the Argentinian writer, strip cartoonist and playwright, Copi, a resident in Paris and contributor with Grupo Pánico, once again evoked the voice of the gaucho, writing two plays in which he was writer, draughtsman, cartoonist and actor: The Shadow of Wenceslao (1978) and Cachafaz (1981). Both punctiliously respect the rules of the gaucho genre whilst being congruent with the languages of coetaneous stage production. Through this material, Argentine composers Martín Matalón and Oscar Strasnoy wrote two homonymous operas in 2000 and 2010, respectively, which Bauer will also analyse in the lecture. 


Martín Bauer (Buenos Aires, 1962) is a musician, teacher and cultural manager who lives in Buenos Aires. He has directed the Buenos Aires-based Centros de Experimentación del Teatro Colón (CETC) and the Teatro Argentino de la Plata (TACEC), of which he was founder and is currently its general and artistic director. He also directs the programme Colón Contemporáneo for Teatro Colón.