Bandoneonist, arranger and leader
(14 May 1914 - 21 December 1987)
ndefatigable traveler, carrying his bandoneon he passed through the ranks of over twenty aggregations until he put together his own group. He walked a long way before he had the satisfaction of being chosen by his peers as president of the Asociación Bandoneonística Argentina (A.B.A.) (Argentine Association of Bandoneon Players) which appointed Piazzolla as honorary president.
With just one of his compositions he did enough to be remembered forever: "Esta noche en Buenos Aires", with lyrics by Avlis. It was premiered in 1944 by the great Angelito Vargas. More than forty years later someone said: "So many years after its premiere, it will keep on talking about a merry calendar with colored signs and about a smiling carnival that will live as long as its reminiscing lasts."
He was the second of eight siblings, all them born in the same house located in the neighborhood of Barracas where their parents settled when they arrived from Italy in the late 1910. When he was born music was already at home, his father led a group with other amateur players. He either played guitar, violin or mandolin. Besides playing for the sake of their joy they had the possibility of making some money at the parties they were called.
His long career started in 1929 with the Silvestri-Pugliesi group lined-up by boys of the neighborhood. He put together the Del Piano-Paradiso orchestra with Carmelo Paradiso on violin and his brother Vicente on piano, Eugenio Jódice playing second bandoneon and Luis Estrada, third. The latter was soccer player in Boca Juniors, substitute for the remembered back Bidoglio.
They made their debut in 1930 at the Liguria saloon located on 645 Azara Street. Fortunately Roberto Firpo was present the day of the opening. The latter was immediately interested in hiring him for shows at the Palace Theater during the intermissions between silent movies as it was usual. He had to ask permission to his father for that.
In 1931 he was invited to join the José De Caro Orchestra, he accepted the offer but he did not split with Firpo, he swapped between both but don Roberto had the priority.
The following year he joined the Osvaldo Fresedo Orchestra. His tenure was until the late 1933. Movies witnessed through images this period when in the pioneer film "Tango " Del Piano appears with that orchestra. He is the last in the bandoneon section, above, to the right in the screen. He also appears in "Los tres berretines" shot that same year.
Between 1934 and 1935 he played in the orchestra led by Augusto Berto. The outfit had not regular vocalists but, occasionally, Mariano Balcarce and Ángel Vargas appeared as guest singers. There his perdurable friendship with the latter started. As well he played in the orchestras led by Eugenio Nóbile, later devoted to jazz, and with Freddy Scorticati's. Even though it was what he used to do, he never played in so many groups at the same time as he did at this period. Scorticati's line-up was put together to back the female singer Dorita Davis. He continued with Berto to play at the Juanita Larrauri's radio shows.
In the late 1935 he joined the Juan Canaro's orchestra. The pianist was maestro Carlos Di Sarli, one of the bandoneon players was Domingo Federico and the lead violin, Víctor Felice. He played nearly two years until he decided to quit, but soon later he came back. They appeared at the Tabarís cabaret. One of the violinists was Alfredo Gobbi. The vocalists were Alberto Tagle, Fernando Díaz and the Desmond sisters.
In 1937 he was as well with the orchestra called Los Mendocinos led by Francisco Lauro. Later it was led by Juan Sánchez Gorio and, it its last stints, by the pianist Bernardo Blas. Here the vocalist was Mario Landi. In 1938 they backed the female singers Yola Yoli, Laurita Esquivel and in the early 1940, the female vocalists Carmen Duval and María de la Fuente.
The following year he played with the Orquesta Típica Víctor. Then he reunited again with his friend Ángel Vargas and played, precisely, in the only three recordings that the singer cut with this aggregation: "Adiós Buenos Aires", "Sin rumbo fijo" and "Incertidumbre". Eduardo was as well in the recording session of the Scorticati's and Juan Faustino Sarcione's tango "Alma", sung by Alberto Gómez.
During 1939 he worked in three orchestras: Roberto Firpo, for the second time, Juan Canaro, for the third time, and Freddy Scorticati. Who knows how many times? Canaro's vocalists were Andrés Falgás and Alberto Del Valle, and with Freddy, Mario Corrales.
The violinist and leader Roberto Zerrillo hired him in 1940. He had to insist to make him sign, he thought he was completely necessary in his outfit. They played for a long time in Montevideo. Juan Carlos Howard had quit and the piano was played since then by César Zagnoli. The vocalist was Jorge Cardoso, who later settled in Spain.
In the late 1940 he joined the Joaquín do Reyes Orchestra. The vocalist was Eduardo Morel (Eduardo Zelada Olazábal). In 1943 Miguel Caló hired him as lead bandoneon, the second bandoneon was Armando Pontier. It is a brief tenure, Del Piano cannot either bear any longer that his arrangements are not played or that he is a staff musician. Finally, that year he switched to the orchestra led by Ángel D´Agostino, after Alfredo Attadía's departure. It was during the short period when Ángel Vargas had left the orchestra. He returned two months later and the two friends were together again.
Since then Eduardo Del Piano began to be recognized and appraised. The definitive consecration came when Vargas included in his songbook "Esta noche en Buenos Aires". This tango was performed by then by Alfredo de Angelis with Julio Martel. This rendition was regarded by its composer as unsurpassable. He used to be very pleased with Martel's interpretation, especially, at the end of the second part. But they were unable to record it because Francisco Canaro had got the authorization for Eduardo Adrián to sing it. At that time when a number had been recorded by an artist of one company, another company was not allowed to do it. But this only took place in papers because finally Canaro did not commit it to record and Antonio Rodio with Alberto Serna and, of course, the "Ruiseñor Porteño" did it.
With D'Agostino, Eduardo wrote many arrangements and orchestrations; among them these stand out "A pan y agua", "De pura cepa", "De corte criollo", and "El cornetín del tranvía" that begins with a bandoneon solo that he himself played. There is no improvisation, he writes his solos and his variations with facility. Along with Vargas the players were showcased, because Ángel asked him a counter-line which was widely accepted by the audience.
On September 10, 1946 the last recording of the D'Agostino-Vargas team took place. Later the singer split definitively with the orchestra. The former went to the province of Mendoza to appear on Radio Aconcagua for a five-month tenure. The musicians in the orchestra were beginning to have difficulties with D'Agostino. Then due to an engagement signed with a club in the city of Morón, they suggested Eduardo and the violinist Victor Felice to act as agents in order to comply with the job. The singers for that brief gig were Tino García and Oscar Alsina, a boy that never recorded.
On his comeback to Buenos Aires, Ángel Vargas asked Eduardo to conduct his accompaniment. The latter agreed and in June 1947 Eduardo Del Piano made his debut leading an orchestra.
At that first appearance a curious and important thing took place, the announcer Raúl Astor, when he introduced them, said: «Here is the Ruiseñor de las calles porteñas, Ángel Vargas.» It was his definitive baptism, that it is worth noting, did not take place during the singer's tenure in the D'Agostino's orchestra.
They made 20 recordings together and in October 1950 they broke up but their friendship continued as before. The leader had the need of his own orchestra.
As for his choice of vocalists, with the first one there were no problems. He was Mario Bustos who had been singing with Carlos Demaría's outfit. But with the other he chose, there were many. Eduardo liked Osvaldo Cordó but he had not imagined that he was a guy with serious problems of personality. Telling some of the stories about the things that happened would be to turn to funny anecdotes. Because of that he then chose Héctor de Rosas. He was about to audition Luis Tolosa, but the latter arrived late at the appointment.
Their debut was at the Tango Bar on Corrientes Avenue. Later they switched to the Adlón tearoom, on a first floor on Florida Street, here with three vocalists because Rubén Grillo had joined them. When the first two split with him Adolfo Rivas came and the latter was then replaced by Roberto Bayot.
So things went until 1958, a time that is no longer good for tango. From a couple of years back the recording companies were promoting rock music, consequently Del Piano's spirit was low. He decided to stop for a while and devoted himself to commerce. He and his wife run a perfume shop located on Galicia Avenue in the city of Avellaneda.
Many years had passed and even though his career had come to an end on several occasions he put together small groups for sporadic performances or to accompany some singers in their recordings. Such were the cases of Osvaldo Ribó, Néstor Novoa, Carlos Danel, Néstor Soler and some other that I cannot recall now.
His death was unexpected, he died alone at his home when his wife was out. In terms of art he was disappointed, a wish that never came true, he said it many times. He was sad because his recordings had never been released in a long-playing record. Many years later, an FM Tango production compensated in part that omission releasing a CD that included most of his recordings with Ángel Vargas.