David Díaz

Real name: Díaz, David José
Violinist and composer
(17 May 1906 - 8 May 1977)
Place of birth:
Tandil (Buenos Aires) Argentina
Néstor Scalone

e was born in the beautiful city of Tandil, in the middle of the province of Buenos Aires. He was the third of nine siblings, seven boys and two girls. When they grew up, some of them teenagers and all with musical education, they formed a peculiar group: the Hermanos Díaz Orchestra in which the nine played. For a time, and accompanied by their parents, they made tours of the interior of the country.

David was seven when he began his studies at the Conservatorio Williams with a scholarship granted by his teacher Rodríguez Castro. Seven years later he graduated as music teacher and was awarded with a gold medal and granted another scholarship to further his studies in the United States. But at that time it was customary that the members of the family had to work to provide for the basic needs of the family group. Then there was no money for the ticket —something the scholarship did not include— so the trip was frustrated.

His forte was violin playing even though he also played guitar and string bass. When he was on one of those tours with his family in Bahía Blanca to appear at the Café Royal some meaningful events for his immediate life occurred. Firstly it was love. He came to know Servanda Santamarina. There was a promise to come true later. He continued on tour until 1928 when he split with his siblings in order to return and get married. There he appeared in radio programs as member of the staff orchestras of the radio stations LU2 and LU7 which were specialized in classical music. Furthermore he also played in a tango group. The one led by Nicolás Tauro and also in the Blue Melody jazz combo.

Press and public highlighted his virtues. These news reached Carlos Di Sarli’s ears who invited him to join the group he was putting together and taught him the tango secrets with all its tricks. Among friends and relatives, David always expressed his gratitude to the maestro.

When he moved to the capital city Di Sarli hired him to play in his sextet. Gone were his early days in Buenos Aires with the forgotten orchestra led by Héctor Aberasturi.

In the mid- 30s he was summoned by José Tinelli to appear with his aggregation on the radio, cabarets and several venues. The group was also requested to appear in a movie: La Virgencita de Madera, a movie adaptation of a popular theater play that the brothers César and Pepe Ratti had staged for many years in the Buenos Aires venues. Directed by Sebastián Naón it was premiered at the Cine Monumental on April 21, 1931. David had an outstanding performance in the film and also the female singer Chola Bosch was starred. She later would become José Tinelli’s wife.

1938 was a transcendental year in the violinist’s career because Aníbal Troilo summoned him for his brand-new orchestra to replace the lead violinist José Stilman. That was the start of 37 uninterrupted years that peaked at the last Pichuco’s performance at the Teatro Odeón on May 17, 1975.

That strange continuity in the milieu allowed him to appear in over 330 of the recordings by Troilo, exactly a 93% of all the ones made. He also played in other recordings to enrich the musical background for vocalists such as Julio Sosa, Argentino Ledesma, Edmundo Rivero and Roberto Goyeneche. Furthermore he was sideman in the orchestras led by Lucio Demare, Horacio Salgán, José Basso and also Argentino Galván, when in 1960 he recorded La Historia del Tango for Music Hall.

As compositor he released a few numbers, among them were the waltz “Volverás” and the tangos “Don Benjamín”, “El tango de siempre” with lyrics by Leopoldo Díaz Vélez and the polka “Iberá Tupaxi”.

In the movies he appeared each time Troilo did it: El tango vuelve a París (1948), Vida nocturna (1955), Mi noche triste, only in the musical background (1952) and finally in the musical parade that Esta es mi Argentina offered in 1974.

I highly recommend to listen, for verifying his talent, to some of his solos, especially those in the tangos “La noche que te fuiste”, “Desvelo”, “”, “Ojos negros”, “La viajera perdida”, “Patio mío”, “Triunfal” and “Selección de Julio De Caro”.

Excerpted from the Tango y Lunfardo magazine Nº 64 (February 1991).