Ojos Negros is a tango that has captivated the hearts of many tango lovers, with its simple and catchy melody, its romantic and nostalgic lyrics, and its expressive and elegant style. It was composed by Vicente Greco, one of the pioneers and innovators of tango music, who played the bandoneon and led his own orchestra. In this article, we will explore the history, the lyrics, and the versions of Ojos Negros, including the guitar recording by Roberto Pugliese.

The Origin of Ojos Negros

This tango was composed by Vicente Greco in 1910, when he was only 22 years old. Greco was born in Buenos Aires in 1888, and he learned to play the bandoneon, a type of concertina that is essential for tango music, at a young age. He formed his first orchestra in 1906, and he soon became one of the most popular and influential musicians in the tango scene. He composed more than 150 tangos, such as El flete, El pibe, and El morocho, and he also recorded many of them with his orchestra.

This work one of Greco’s most successful and beloved tangos, and it was dedicated to his wife, María Luisa, who had black eyes. The tango was originally an instrumental piece, but later it was given lyrics by Pedro Numa Córdoba, a poet and journalist who collaborated with many tango composers. The lyrics express the love and the longing for a woman with black eyes, who has left the narrator’s life. The chorus says:

Ojos negros, ojos negros, ¿dónde están, que no los veo? ¿Por qué se fueron de mi lado, dejándome en el pecho un mal herido?

Black eyes, black eyes, where are they, that I don’t see them? Why did they leave my side, leaving me in the chest a wounded pain?

The Versions of Ojos Negros

Has been recorded and performed by many artists, from different genres and countries, who have added their own interpretations and variations to the original piece. Some of the most notable versions are:

  • Osvaldo Pugliese: Pugliese was one of the greatest tango orchestra leaders and composers of the 20th century, and he was known for his powerful and passionate style. He recorded Ojos Negros in 1972, with his orchestra, and he gave the tango a majestic and dramatic sound, with a prominent role of the bandoneon and the strings. His version is considered one of the best and most popular versions of Ojos Negros.
  • Aníbal Troilo: Troilo was another legendary tango orchestra leader and composer of the 20th century, and he was known for his expressive and lyrical style. He recorded Ojos Negros in 1948, with his orchestra, and he gave the tango a delicate and elegant sound, with a subtle and refined arrangement. His version is considered one of the most beautiful and sophisticated versions of Ojos Negros.
  • Roberto Pugliese: Pugliese is an Argentine musician, composer, and arranger, who specializes in tango and guitar music. He recorded Ojos Negros in 2019, as a solo guitar piece, and he gave the tango a personal and intimate sound, with a fingerstyle and arpeggio technique. His version is based on his own arrangement of the piece and his master Anibla Arias, which he had previously performed live in several occasions. His version is considered one of the most original and innovative versions of Ojos Negros.


Ojos Negros is a tango masterpiece that has transcended its original genre and context, and has inspired many artists to reinterpret it in their own way. From Greco’s bandoneon to Pugliese’s guitar, from Pugliese’s orchestra to Troilo’s orchestra, Ojos Negros has proven to be a versatile and timeless piece, that can adapt to different styles and instruments, and that can convey different emotions and atmospheres. Ojos Negros is a testament to the creativity and the diversity of tango music, and to the universal appeal of the black eyes.

Ojos Negros, tango Vicente Greco. Roberto Pugliese blog
Ojos Negros, tango Vicente Greco. Roberto Pugliese blog

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