Atahualpa Yupanqui

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Atahualpa Yupanqui

Atahualpa Yupanqui , pseudonym of Hector Roberto Chavero (Juan A. de la Pena, January 31, 1908 – Nimes, May 23, 1992), He was an Argentine singer-songwriter, guitarist, poet and writer.

He is considered the most important Argentine folklore musician. In 1986 France honored him as Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Atahualpa_Yupanqui’s Biography

He was born on January 31, 1908 in Campo de la Cruz (from the Segoburo family, his great-uncles, Basque grandparents). It was an old rural post, equidistant from the town of Colón and from the city of Pergamino, north of the province of Buenos Aires, whose mestizo father, of Quechua origin, was a native of Monte Redondo, in the Argentine province of Santiago del Estero. and his mother, surnamed Aramburu, was a Creole of Basque parents. His childhood was spent in Agustín Roca (Junín party), where his father worked on the railroad as a telegraph operator and was also engaged in the taming of horses. Initially he studied violin with Father Rosáenz, the village priest. Later he learned to play guitar in the city of Junín with the concertist Bautista Almirón, who would be his only teacher. Initially lived in Junín in the house of Almirón; Later he returned to the village of Roca and traveled 16 km on horseback to take lessons in the city.With Almirón, Roberto Chavero discovered the music of Sister, Albéniz, Granados and Tárrega, and also transcriptions for Schubert’s guitar, Liszt, Beethoven, Bach and Schumann.

In 1917 with his family he spent a vacation in the province of Tucumán, and there he met a new landscape and a new music, with his own instruments, such as the hype and the Indian harp, and his own rhythms, the zamba, between The early death of his father made him prematurely the head of the family. He was improvised school teacher, then typographer, chronicler and musician. He played tennis, boxed and became a journalist. At 19 years old, he composed his song “Camino del indio.” He met Jujuy, the Calchaquí valleys and southern Bolivia.

In 1931 he married his cousin María Alicia Martínez, who had a son born in 1923 from a previous couple. He had not done well in the city of Buenos Aires, so they went to the province of Entre Ríos, where his first daughter, Alma Alicia Chavero, was born, and they settled for a time in Tala.

In January 1932 he participated in the failed Kennedy brothers’ revolutionary attempt in La Paz (Entre Ríos), in which Colonel Gregorio Pomar and writer Arturo Jauretche were also involved, who immortalized the patriada in his gaucho poem El Paso de los Libres.

After this defeat he had to go into exile. He had to take refuge for a while in Montevideo (Uruguay), and then in other locations in the eastern interior and southern Brazil. Meanwhile his wife had returned to Junín (province of Buenos Aires), where on January 11, 1933 his second son, Atahualpa Roberto Chavero, was born. Finally in 1936 in Rosario was born Lila Amancay Chavero. The following year, he separated from his wife. She and the four children returned to Junín.

In 1934 he re-entered Argentina through Entre Ríos and settled in Rosario (province of Santa Fe). In 1935 he settled in Racó, a hamlet about 40 km north-west of the town of Tafí Viejo (province of Tucumán). He briefly went through the city of Buenos Aires -where different interpreters began to popularize their songs- to perform on radio. After Santiago del Estero, to return for a few months to Raco in 1936. He made an incursion through Catamarca, Salta and Jujuy. Later he visited the altiplano again in search of testimonies of the old original cultures. He returned to the Calchaquí valleys, rode the trails of Juju on a mule and lived for a time in Cochangasta (a hamlet at two kilometers from the city of La Rioja).

In Tucumán, in 1942, he met the French-Canadian composer and pianist Sampedrina Nenette Pepín (1908-1990), with whom he lived for the next 48 years.

As in Argentina there was no divorce, they had to marry via Montevideo (in 1946), so legally Yupanqui was a bigamist. With Nenette he had his last son, Roberto Chavero, who was the only one that Atahualpa Yupanqui showed as such, perhaps influenced by Nenette, who held the reins in the couple.

Because of its affiliation to the Communist Party, Yupanqui suffered censorship during the presidency of Juan Domingo Perón. He was arrested and imprisoned several times. In this regard Yupanqui said:

In Perón’s time I was several years without being able to work in Argentina … They accused me of everything, even of the crime of the next week. Since that forgettable time I have the index of the broken right hand. Once again they put a typewriter on my hand and then they sat on top, others jumped. They were trying to get rid of my hand but they did not notice a detail: they damaged my right hand and I, to play the guitar, I’m a lefty. Even today, several years after that fact, there are tones like the minor if it costs me to make them. I can execute them because I use the trade, the skill; but they really cost me.

Chavero went to France in 1949, already using the pseudonym Atahualpa Yupanqui, and singer Edith Piaf invited him to perform in Paris on July 7, 1950. He immediately signed a contract with Chant du Monde, the recording company that published his first LP in Europe, Minero soy, which won the first prize of best album of the Charles Cros Academy, which included 350 participants from all continents in the International Folklore Competition. Subsequently, he traveled extensively in Europe.

In 1952, Yupanqui returned to Buenos Aires, where he broke off his relationship with the Communist Party, which made it easier for him to arrange radio performances. While with his wife Nenette (Paule Pepín Fitzpatrick) built his house in Cerro Colorado (Córdoba), Yupanqui toured the country. He mechanized the films Horizons of Stone (1956), based on his book Cerro Bayo and Zafra (1959), also acting in them.


Atahualpa Yupanqui at the Cosquín Festival.

Nenette was the author of 65 songs, among the best known of Atahualpa, as

  • Baguala of the poor thing,
  • Chacarera de las piedras,
  • Couplers of the walker,
  • When the guitar sleeps,
  • From those hills I come,
  • From both dir and come,
  • The sorrel,
  • The muleteer goes,
  • The sky is inside of me,
  • The coyita,
  • The child sleeps smiling,
  • Flower of the hill,
  • Guitar tell me you,
  • Little asleep,
  • The montanaza,
  • Luna tucumana,
  • I like to look at the man,
  • My old payment,
  • Milonga del paisano,
  • Payo Solá,
  • Without horse and in Montiel,
  • Vidalita tucumana,
  • I want a black horse,
  • Zamba from yesterday happy,
  • Autumn Zamba and
  • Zambita of good love.

Given the machismo of the time, Atahualpa published those songs as written by the non-existent poet Pablo del Cerro.

The recognition of Yupanqui’s ethnographic work became widespread during the 1960s, and artists such as Mercedes Sosa, Alberto Cortez and Jorge Cafrune recorded his compositions and made him popular with younger musicians, who refer to him as Don Ata .

Yupanqui alternated between his houses in Buenos Aires and Cerro Colorado (province of Córdoba). During 1963 and 1964, he toured Colombia, Japan, Morocco, Egypt, Israel and Italy. In 1967 he toured Spain and finally settled in Paris (France). He returned periodically to Argentina – in the hands of various dictatorships. In 1973, with the return of Juan Domingo Perón, he appeared in the film Argentinísima II. But his visits became less frequent when the civic-military dictatorship (1976-1983) of Jorge Rafael Videla came to power in March 1976.

With the return of democracy, in the mid-eighties he presented several works in the famous café concert and gallery La Capilla, located in Suipacha 842 (Buenos Aires). In 1985 he won the Kónex award for brilliant as the greatest figure in the history of Argentine popular music. In 1986, the Government of France honored him as Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters. In 1987 he returned to Argentina to receive the homage of the National University of Tucumán. In 1989 he had to intern in Buenos Aires to overcome a cardiac ailment, despite which in January 1990 he participated in the Cosquín Festival. However, a few days later Yupanqui traveled to Paris to fulfill an artistic contract.

On November 14, 1990, his wife Paula Nenette Pepín (1908-1990) died in Buenos Aires.

In 1992, Yupanqui returned to France to perform in the city of Nîmes, where he became indisposed and died on May 23, 1992. Due to his express wish, his remains were repatriated and they rest in Cerro Colorado under a European oak. < / p>

His compositions are part of the repertoire of countless artists, both in Argentina and in different parts of the world, such as:

  • Los Chalchaleros,
  • The Borders,
  • Tucu Tucu,
  • Horacio Guarany, †
  • Mercedes Sosa, †
  • the Dúo Salteño,
  • Facundo Cabral, †
  • Jorge Cafrune, †
  • Alfredo Zitarrosa, †
  • José Larralde,
  • Víctor Jara, †
  • Ángel Parra, †
  • Inti-Illimani,
  • Juan Carlos Baglietto,
  • Alberto Cortez,
  • Pedro Aznar,
  • Liliana Herrero,
  • Jairo,
  • Soledad Pastorutti,
  • Divided,
  • Marie Laforêt,
  • Mikel Laboa, †
  • Federico Pecchia and
  • Enrique Bunbury.
  • Violeta Parra. †
  • Chavela Vargas. †

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