The story behind the artifact:
Payasadas de la vida musical score album by Jorge M. Dada
The Payasadas de la vida musical score album is a collection of original and printed scores of songs composed by Jorge M. Dada for the namesake film.
But who was Jorge Miguel Dada? He was a man of Greek nationality, born in Jerusalem, Palestine, about 1896. His family moved to El Salvador and, in time, Jorge and his brother Demetrio founded a film distribution company there.
Apart from his interest in business, Dada has a penchant for art, particularly music and poetry. He was not only a composer and poet, but he even used to sing his own songs, and recite his own poems with orchestra accompaniment. Several of his songs were recorded by companies like Brunswick, Peerless, and Vocalion, performed by him or other singers. Some of those recordings can be found as part of the Strachwitz Collection at UCLA.
Dada’s voice was sweet, and his Spanish had a Greek accent.
In 1934, young Mexican filmmaker Miguel Zacarías convinced Dada to produce his second film. Dada, who had a keen eye for business, knew that Spanish-speaking moviegoers craved for films not just in their own language, but depicting their culture, folklore, and ways of life in the genuine fashion Hollywood “Hispanic films” lacked.
Dada agreed to be the financial backer for the film, provided that it would be based in a sketchy idea of his that he called the “novela original”, and that the title were Payasadas de la vida. Zacarías consented, and the movie was made.
The soundtrack music was all composed by Dada.
Payasadas de la vida, a melodrama of circus people, was the first of ten movies Dada produced in Mexico. He got credit for the “novelas originales” in all of them, and he also composed the soundtrack movie for every film.
In the early 1940s, the scarcity of film stock due to WWII made him quit his career as a producer, but his film distribution business continued thriving for decades. When he passed away, the younger Dada generations took command of it.
Payasadas de la vida had a successful commercial life in the 1930s and 1940s. After that, nobody knew its whereabouts. It was until 1990 that Rogelio Agrasánchez Linage found and restored it. The restored movie was screened to a special audience: Enrique Dada (Jorge’s grandson); director Miguel Zacarías, Gloria Morel –the film’s leading lady-, Manuel Medel –the protagonist-, as well as other directors and actors. It was a touching event.
After that screening, Rogelio Agrasánchez Jr. interviewed Enrique Dada, who donated the Payasadas de la vida album to the Agrasánchez archive.
The album is bound, and the cover has two stamped legends in golden ink:
Música y canciones de la version cinegráfica
Payasadas de la vida
Jorge M. Dada
The contents are:
- Expiación (tango-song): 3 different printed music scores w/lyrics
- Lamentos (tango-song): original score in ink w/typed lyrics + 1 printed version
- Consagración (vals-song): 1 printed music score w/lyrics
- Payasadas de la vida (vals-song): original score in ink w/typed lyrics
- En mi harem (fox-song): original score in ink w/typed lyrics
- Lamentos (fox-trot): original score in ink w/typed lyrics
- Dormite niñito (lullaby): original score in ink w/typed lyrics
- Ojos negros (vals-song): original score in ink w/typed lyrics + 1 printed version
Some of the printed versions were glued to the interior covers of different editions of the Cuban magazine ‘Carteles’, which were beautifully illustrated.
Three extra printed music scores are loose in the album;
- Olvida ché (tango-song; also from Payasadas de la vida)
- Payasadas de la vida (vals-song)
- Rosario (tango-song; theme of a 1935 Mexican namesake movie Dada produced, and also directed by Miguel Zacarías)
Jorge M. Dada, his movies, poetry and music definitely deserve to be studied and enjoyed.
For more information about Payasadas de la vida, see Miguel Zacarías, creador de estrellas, by Rogelio Agrasánchez Jr.
For more information about the Strachwitz Collection, go to their website at: frontera.library.ucla.edu