Alberto Heredia

nly a great one, after handing an arrangement for orchestra to Aníbal Troilo, can be relieved from the suffering of the implacable torment of Pichuco’s eraser from which nobody escaped. That rare privilege was conferred to him in 1958 when Emilio Balcarce, in his condition of orchestrator, delivered the music sheets of “La bordona”. The latter is his most significant work due to the beauty of its melody which always sounds contemporary despite the passing of time. He was by then the inspired musician that had walked along the music staff in every posible way and who, discovering the secrets of a perfect harmony, was shaping the best sounds of the most important orchestras.

Enamored with music, his blood is nurtured by the sap of tango and the four-to-the-bar beat circulates in his veins as soon as his fingers caress the strings of his violin and transfer his feeling to the bandoneon keyboard. He decided to play bandoneon to make it weep or sing influenced by its expressive forcefulness, the sweetness of its nuances and the harmony of its chords.

As soon as he became an adult and after a stint with the group led by Ricardo Ivaldi, he put together his own orchestra but he delayed its continuity to play violin with the Edgardo Donato’s orchestra. Later he again formed his own aggregation which included the singer who later would be one of the greats in the history of tango: Alberto Marino.

When Alberto Castillo split with the Ricardo Tanturi’s orchestra, the former asked him to lead the orchestra that would accompany him as soloist and with it he achieved great hits like “Manoblanca”, “Anclao en Paris”, “Charol” and “Amarras”. Alternating his activity with other great figures, again he put together an orchestra on request by Alberto Marino who had split with Aníbal Troilo. The vocalist launched himself as soloist and released unforgettable hits like “Organito de la tarde”, “El motivo”, “Desencuentro”, “La muchacha del circo”.

With his vast knowledge of instruments, harmony and counterpoint, he began to write music charts in which not only had he to apply his talent but also understand the soul, the taste and the will of the bandleader for whom he was writing. In that way he was absorbing the spirit of those for whom he was writing arrangements, reaching their most intimate secrets and so marking with his own signature the orchestras led by Aníbal Troilo, Alfredo Gobbi, Francini-Pontier, José Basso, Leopoldo Federico, among others.

Back to playing, in 1949 he joined the Osvaldo Pugliese Orchestra. In that brilliant ensemble he shared the violin section with Camerano, Cacho Herrero and Carrasco. The bandoneon players were Osvaldo Ruggiero, Jorge Caldara, Gilardi and Castagniaro, Aniceto Rossi was on double bass and maestro Pugliese led from the piano. He contributes for the orchestra also as arranger, influenced by the style imposed by Pugliese and Ruggiero. Furthermore in September 1949 the orchestra recorded his tango “Bien compadre”.

Playing as second violin —Herrero was the lead violin—, his work in “El tobiano”, “Pasional”, “Si sos brujo”, “Caminito soleado”, “Por una muñeca”, and “Nonino”, among others of high level, is worth mentioning. After a 20-year tenure, in 1968 he decided to follow new roads and with his partners Osvaldo Ruggiero, Víctor Lavallén, Cacho Herrero, Julián Plaza, Aniceto Rossi and Jorge Maciel, the Sexteto Tango was formed. The latter, due to his charts, achieved a very rich style, not equal to Pugliese’s but close to it.

With this group they traveled to Japan, France, Russia, Spain, Holland and all the South American countries. After many years of performing the sextet had many changes of personnel and Emilio decided to quit and settled in Neuquén. But fate changed things and in 2000 a young musician, Ignacio Varchausky, suggested to the Secretary of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires to form an orchestra that would revive the spirit and the styles of the 40s in order to teach the new generations. So the Orquesta Escuela de Tango was born. And Balcarce was appointed its leader and conductor.

Then he devoted himself to teach the students the knowledge of the most outstanding styles of those orchestras with the original charts. The course lasts two years and the students gradually learn by picking up what it is not written: ways of expression, appogiature, accents, nuances, licks and the spontaneity that is achieved in the rehearsals for embellishing melodies. With a well polished background, several groups of young musicians who came from different latitudes have graduated. Important maestros backed this task as guests: Julián Plaza, Ernesto Franco, Horacio Salgán, Leopoldo Federico, and Alcides Rossi, among others.

In Paris the orchestra was assisted by the contribution of maestros of the level of: Néstor Marconi, José Libertella, Atilio Stampone, Rodolfo Mederos and Raúl Garello.

Two discs: De Contrapunto and Bien Compadre are the testimony of the excellent interpretations made under his expert conduction.

And as Ignacio Varchausky said: «Emilio Balcarce is really a teacher because he teaches; his music and his love for music teach, his tango and his love for tango teach. He teaches us without knowing it, and he does not realize it because very seldom does he want to teach anything but simply sharing what he knows and feels. Each accent, each outburst, each effect that he demands is a way of getting closer to what he calls “expresión porteña” and which we, little by little, are beginning to understand. To talk about Emilio is to talk about the best of tango; that Tango that make us so proud when we enjoy and share it with the whole world because we know is ours».

Pleasant, laughable, open to a dialogue, he amazes those who, charmed, are nurtured by his wisdom and seek refuge in the peaceful shade of his figure.

He is a maestro that walked along the streets of his Villa Urquiza, living with the people, with their expectations and their sufferings. He understands the sorrows and the happiness of others. He is admired by his peers, by his alumni and by the public. He keeps on working like the first day, with a great enthusiasm, creating new arrangements for his students.