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mario cavagnaro He was born in Arequipa in 1926. He arrived in Lima at the hands of his parents Miguel Ángel Cavagnaro and Elena Llerena when he was three years old. Shy and dreamy, before leaving the land where he was born he made sure to take with him his most precious toy: a teddy bear, the same one that two decades later inspired one of the most heartfelt boleros in the Peruvian songbook.

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/ Teddy bear, toy of my son, of my little one that one morning the Lord took /

That little bear was his confidant, his ‘little brother’, they shared games and talks. She adored him, that’s why she brought him when she came to Lima. They were inseparable, you can’t imagine how much Mario loved that toy”, comments Belsa Badaracco de Cavagnaro, widow of the remembered Peruvian composer.

Mario Cavagnaro and his widow, Belsa Badaracco.  (Photo: personal archive of Belsa Badaracco)
Mario Cavagnaro and his widow, Belsa Badaracco. (Photo: personal archive of Belsa Badaracco)

Years passed, Cavagnaro grew up and the affection for his companion in adventures also increased. The composer remained attached to his bear during the entire school stage and part of the university until an unexpected event separated them irremediably and forever. There was no “goodbye”, much less a goodbye hug.

When my husband entered the university, he placed his bear with his arms outstretched in a small armchair in the living room, so that when he came home from studying he would feel that he was welcoming him. But one day he didn’t find it. His mother had given it to some ladies who knocked on the door asking for used toys for poor children for Christmas. She told me that she had never felt such great sadness, she could never recover from that pain.”, agrees Badaracco.

The national composer had never told his parents about the brotherly bond that linked him to his beloved toy. He was an only child. That bear was to him like the brother he never had.

He never told anyone, not even his parents, because he feared his secret might be considered a complaint. His little bear was the only one who knew his first concerns, he was the confidant of his pranks”, adds Doña Belsa.

In July 1951, Mario Cavagnaro began his dizzying career as a composer and arranger. He gave life to great and popular musical successes, but without a doubt the one that managed to touch the most sensitive fibers of human feeling was the bolero “Osito de plush”.

Everyone believed that Mario had lost a son, but it was not so. Since she felt so much pain losing her bear, she imagined the deep pain a father must feel when losing a son, ”reflects the composer’s widow.

And although after that sad episode Cavagnaro received hundreds of bears as a gift from family, friends and fans, none could fill that space left by his beloved teddy bear, the one with glass eyes.

“He never found a replacement for him and by way of relief he made a song in his honor. In this way she paid homage to him”, emphasizes Doña Belsa.

In the early 1990s, Mario Cavagnaro published his memoirs in the pages of a local newspaper. In the edition dedicated to “Teddy Bear” he wrote:

First of all, I must clarify that I did not have the misfortune of losing a son. Life, like everyone else, has brought me deep sadness, but not that truly irreparable loss. However, the teddy bear did exist, it was one of my first toys.. I don’t know exactly who gave it to me because when my childhood years dawned with the use of reason, the little bear already shared my hours, my affections and even my confidences”.

Teddy bear” has been performed by popular Peruvian and foreign performers such as Jesús Vásquez, Fetiche, Lucho Barrios, Julio Jaramillo, among others..

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