El Abuelito – the grandfather is a tribute to my bandoneon. I bought it in Buenos Aires in January 2001 when Argentina was hit by another major financial crisis, the so-called Corralito. Back then, many people had to sell their favorite valuables to make ends meet.
When I tried out the very beautiful instrument, the owner Claudio walked restlessly around me and looked at me from all sides. Over a mate tea, he then told me why this bandoneon was so important to him: his grandfather had brought it to Argentina from his native Spain. He tinkered with it every day to make minor repairs, improve the sound or just cherish it. Claudio never imagined he would sell this heirloom that his grandfather loved so much. But he was forced and wanted to sell it to someone who would play and respect the bandoneon and not just see it as an investment.
A few days later, when I came back to pick it up, Claudio said emphatically, “Never forget that you’re taking part of my family with you!” And I promised him that “El Abuelito” would now also be part of my family and that I would respect the instrument like his grandfather did.