"Tinta verde" by Osvaldo Fresedo y su Sexteto Típico, 1927.
He was born on August 13, 1884 in Las Flores, a town that would eventually become one of the neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. At an early age he was sent by his parents to the home of relatives living in the capital, in the Barracas neighborhood, to attend primary school. In this house he also began his musical education, studying guitar with a relative.
At eight years old, he joined a carnival troupe, standing out for his skill as a guitarist.
At thirteen he started working as a telegraph trainee at Ferrocarril del Sud, and in 1904 he was summoned to fulfill the mandatory military service.
None of this was enough to deter him from his musical vocation.
After the military service, he was employed with an initial position in the commercial company “La Cargadora”, located in Bolivar 375. He retired from the same company in 1935, after 30 years of excellent work, reaching the position of general manager.
In 1905, Bardi began playing the violin, perfecting himself for 3 years and in 1908 he began his career as a professional musician.
In 1909 he played in La Boca, the headquarters for Tango musicians of that time, where the Porteños’ popular music would begin to move to downtown, and from there, throughout the entire city.
He was average height, stocky, and broad-shouldered. With pleasant features, he wore a neatly trimmed mustache and doctoral lenses. His friends affectionately called him “El Chino” (The Chinese) because of the sharp longitudinal section of his eyelids, perhaps his most predominant feature.
He was temperamentally serious, circumspect, soft-mannered and had a restful, kind way of expressing himself.
He was not a man of the night, but rather dedicated to his family, his wife and two children.
It was in 1910, when he joined the quartet of Genaro Expósito (bandoneon), in the cafe “La Marina”, after a season in the cafe “del Griego”, that one night, before opening the doors of the cafe to the patrons, Bardi sat at the piano vacated by “el Johnny” Prudencio Aragón, improvising some of the tangos of the quartet repertoire.
His teammates felt so comfortable with his interpretation that they urged him to play that instrument from then on.
And that is how Agustin Bardi became a pianist.
With his characteristic sense of responsibility, he began studying piano technique, reaching a good level in a few months.
As a pianist, he joined the quartet of flutist Carlos Macchi “Hernani”.
Then he left La Boca, to play in the cafe “El Estribo”, joining the orchestra of Vicente Greco. In 1911, Bardi composed “Vicentito”, dedicated to Greco, who recorded the song on two occasions, which launched the authorial career of Bardi.
Other ensembles of the time also began recording his tangos.
In 1914, Bardi played with Eduardo Arolas. It was at the time that Arolas returned to his artistic career after a frustrating venture to open his own business failed.
They played practically by heart, after sight reading, the tangos that day by day arose from the inspiration of the musicians.
Bardi deliberately set aside compositions that, once released, did not satisfy his demanding taste, and he refused to play them again when his orchestra partners requested it. But Arolas liked one of these tangos very much, and, in the face of Bardi's excuse of having misplaced it, said: “the one you wrote with green ink (tinta verde)…”
This tango went on to become one of the most well known compositions of Agustín Bardi, whose original edition of the score featured a cover illustrated by Arolas himself.
Let's listen to it in the rendition of Anibal Troilo y su Orquesta Típica recorded 1n 1938:
Having disconnected from Arolas, in 1916, he went on to play at the Avellaneda's Paris cinema, which was a precursor to having orchestras for silent films, with a trio completed by Graciano de Leone on bandoneon and violinist Eduardo Monelos.
There, Bardi incorporated the tangos “El jagüel” and “Cordón de oro” into his repertoire, composed by Carlos Posadas — the composer he most admired — and made his own, “El rodeo”, known.
Here is the 1943 recording by Osvaldo Pugliese y su Orquesta Típica:
His work at the company "La Cargadora" often forced him to move away from musical activity as a performer, which is why he never wanted to take responsibility for conducting an orchestra.
He did not like to play in the cabarets, since these performances had to be done very late at night, and he had to get up early for his daytime work. The last years of his performance as a professional pianist developed in dancing halls on Saturdays and Sundays in the halls of the Spanish and Italian collectives.
At the beginning of 1921, he toured the interior of Argentina, taking advantage of his vacation from the company, with Graciano De Leone.
It was the prelude to his definitive departure as a professional pianist.
"La última cita" by Ángel D'Agostino y su Orquesta Típica with Ángel Vargas in vocals, recorded in 1944.
His last performances were in the giant orchestra that Francisco Canaro convened for the carnivals of 1921.
On this occasion, however, Bardi refused to Canaro's invitation to premiere his tango compositions, claiming that he did not compose carnival tangos, nor was he interested in its diffusion under such circumstances.
From this moment, and then with his retirement from the company “La Cargadora”, Bardi devoted himself to the deep study of harmony and composition with the Salecian priest José Spadavecchia, to the composition of tangos, and to the manufacturing of rolls for pianolas for the company “Pampa”.
Another of Bardi's great contributions to Argentine popular music was the creation, together with Canaro, Filiberto, Lomuto, Greco, Martinez and others, of a society that protected the rights of musicians and composers, a society that over time would become the prestigious Sociedad Argentina de Autores y Compositores de Música (SADAIC).
He died on April 21, 1941.