Antonio Rodio

Real name: Rodio, Antonio
Violinist, leader and composer
(25 January 1904 - 1 June 1980)
Place of birth:
Crispiano (Tarento) Italy
Gaspar Astarita

e was a highly trained violinist, with an exquisite taste for interpretation, gifted with a sweet sound, that contributed —as instrumentalist, composer and leader— to develop and give hierarchy to the evolutionist forms of tango. He replaced Elvino Vardaro in the orchestra of Pedro Maffia in 1929, and all his later work in our popular urban music is noted for a distinct seal of nobility and tango quality.

Antonio Rodio was born in Italy in the locality of Crispiano, province of Tarento, on January 25, 1904. His parents, Roque Rodio and Francesca Pumarola together with 7 children arrived in Argentina when Antonio was a very young boy.

He started grammar school when he was six and went to the school placed on Deán Funes street, between Pavón and Garay streets. He began his music studies with the maestro Mario Rossner on the upper floor of the tea-room Santa Lucía located on Montes de Oca and Martín García street corner, where he completed his elementary training on violin in 1912.

Immediately he entered the conservatory Thibaud-Piazzini where he followed high studies and graduated as concert player. Carlos Marcucci, who was studying as well at this conservatory was his friend and companion of studies. While working he widened his musical knowledge at the Rossengger conservatory, where he graduated as superior professor of violin on December 1918.

At the age of 11 he started as professional violinist joining the Orquesta Clásica at the Cine Empire, on Corrientes and Maipú streets, where he had the responsibility of replacing Carlos Pessina. After winning a contest he was admitted at the Orquesta Clásica del Teatro Colón (Colón Theater Classical Orchestra), where he became concert master violinist. After graduating from the Rossengger conservatory he went, like Carlos Marcucci, with Arturo Bernstein to lineup in Ángel Danesi orchestra in the early 20s.

In 1923 he joined a quartet led by Carlos Marcucci (bandoneon), Antonio Rodio and José Di Clemente (violins), Alfonso Lacueva (piano), playing recitals on Radio Sud América. He also performed with Osvaldo Fresedo and with Domingo Santa Cruz. With Carlos Vicente Geroni Flores (on piano), César Ginzo and Roberto Dolard (bandoneons), Antonio Rodio and Alberto Mercy (violins), Luis Bernstein (double bass).

He returned with Carlos Marcucci for the opening night of the Cabaret Charleston, in the neighborhood of La Boca. This group was composed of the following pieces: Carlos Marcucci and Salvador Grupillo (bandoneons), Antonio Rodio and José Rosito (violins), Alfonso Lacueva (piano) and Olindo Sinibaldi (double bass), a sextet in which Antonio Rodio stayed for two years.

In 1929, with Enrique Delfino he teamed up a duet of piano and violin recording for the Odeon label the following numbers: “Piedad”, tango by Carlos Marcucci and “Aquel tapado de armiño”, tango by Enrique Delfino, “Haragán”, tango by Enrique Delfino and Stodtard's “Amor indio”, recordings made between the months of March and May 1929.

Also in 1929 he joined the Pedro Maffia's orchestra when Elvino Vardaro, Osvaldo Pugliese and Alfredo De Franco left the outfit. Pedro Maffia turned to three musicians whose names already were a synonym of quality in the artistic environment. They were: Antonio Rodio, who replaced Vardaro; Lalo Scalise was on piano instead of Osvaldo Pugllese and Gabriel Clausi took over Alfredo De Franco's seat. The orchestra finally was lined-up with the following members: Pedro Maffia and Gabriel Clausi (bandoneons), Emilio Puglisi, José Abbati and Antonio Rodio (violins), Lalo Scalise (piano), Nerón Ferrazzano on violoncello and Francisco De Lorenzo (double bass). With this orchestra Pedro Maffia appeared on January 2, 1930 at the Glorieta Río de la Plata, on San Martín Avenue and Gaona Street.

Besides his labor in this orchestra, on April 19, 1930 Antonio Rodio, together with Rodolfo Biagi on piano, accompanied Carlos Gardel at the recording of several numbers, among which “Buenos Aires”, “Aromas de El Cairo”, “Viejo smoking” and “Aquellas farras” were included, besides the foxtrot “Yo nací para ti, tú serás para mí”.

The Irusta-Fugazot-Demare trio, trying to improve the showcasing of the outfit, looked after two players of quality and so Antonio Rodio and Héctor María Artola became part of the trio. Some time later, when the latter left their seats, the places were taken by Alfredo Gobbi (violin) and Aníbal Troilo (bandoneon).

In the thirties, Antonio Rodio, Enrique Delfino and the guitarist Manuel Parada accompanied major tango figures such as: Sofía Bozán, Ada Falcón, Azucena Maizani, Agustín Magaldi, etc.

Between 1934 and 1936 together with Alfredo Malerba (piano) and Daniel Álvarez (bandoneon), backed Libertad Lamarque. When Daniel Álvarez split, his place was occupied by Héctor María Artola.

In 1936 Antonio Rodio put together the outfit Los Poetas del Tango, with Héctor María Artola and Miguel Bonano (bandoneons), Miguel Nijensohn (piano) and Francisco Fiorentino, vocalist. Their performances took place on Radio Belgrano.

When this outfit was dismembered, Antonio Rodio switched to the Eduardo Ferri orchestra until 1937, in which he joined a group composed by: Enrique Rodríguez and Gabriel Clausi bandoneons) and Eduardo Ferri(piano).

In 1939 Roberto Maida (singer), who had recently split with the orchestra of Francisco Canaro, decided to put together his own orchestra to carry on with his career as soloist singer, and it was lined-up as follows: Pedro Maffia and Gabriel Clausi (bandoneons), Antonio Rodio and Tomás Cervo (violins), Lalo Scalise (piano), Francisco De Lorenzo (double bass) and Argentino Galván as conductor.

In 1941 he put together his own orchestra lined-up with the following musicians: Héctor Stamponi, Carlos Parodi, Antonio Ríos, Ernesto Rossi, Mario Demarco, Eduardo Rovira, Luis Bonnat, Tomás Cervo, Juan José Fantín, Máximo Mori, Jaime Gosis and the singers Alberto Serna and Mario Corrales (later renamed Mario Pomar). He also achieved Antonio Rodríguez Lesende's collaboration.

With his orchestra he made his debut on Radio Splendid and during the carnival balls he occupied the eight place among the most sought after and best paid orchestras. He also played at the Café El Nacional, Germinal and at different night locals on Corrientes street.

He recorded sixteen numbers for the Odeon label, between the years 1943 and 1944.

In May 1945 he joined the Miguel Caló orchestra on a tour of several countries of America.

In 1946 Miguel Caló traveled to Chile but when coming back to Buenos Aires with his orchestra, it had a member less, Antonio Rodio. He remained in Chile for some time to later return to Buenos Aires, where he joined the Francisco Rotundo's orchestra.

In 1949 he returned to Chile, now lining-up in the orchestra of Gabriel Clausi, playing at the Viña del Mar Casino and in Santiago. This orchestra was lined-up by: Gabriel Clausi, Vicente Toppi, Astor Piazzolla, Héctor Montenegro, Antonio Rodio, Antonio Rossi, Luis Piersantelli, Leopoldo Amoroso and Francisco De Lorenzo.

Gabriel Clausi came back to Buenos Aires, but Antonio Rodio settled definitively in Viña del Mar. He put together an oufit for international music and stayed several years working at the Casino Municipal of that city. He was founder, together with Izidor Handler and Ernesto Zahr, of the Viña del Mar Symphonic Orchestra(1954/56).

Member of the Orquesta de Cámara de la Universidad de Chile (Chamber Orchestra of the University of Chile), of Valparaíso and the Orquesta de Cámara de la Universidad Católica (Chamber Orchestra of the Catholic University) of Viña del Mar. First violin of the regular orchestra of the Festival de la Canción (Song Festival)of Viña del Mar. He also put together a typical group, which had a short life, to play at night locals.

In early 1980, a throat cancer had already been diagnosed and it was hurrying the fatal end. A heart trouble took him away definitively on June 1, 1980, in Viña del Mar, where he was based.

Through Antonio Rodio´s outfits the following vocalists passed: Francisco Fiorentino, Mario Corrales, Antonio Rodríguez Lesende, Alberto Amor, Carlos Varela, Daniel Adorno and Alberto Serna.

These are some of the numbers bearing his signature: “Maldita”, “Sin rabia y sin pena”, “Yerba mala”, “Rosa celeste”, “Mirándote en los ojos”, “Y la perdí”, “Si yo te contara”, “Igual que Dios”, “Parece mentira”, “Cosas olvidadas”, “Sin amor”, “Angustia”, “Amor brujo”, “Amor amor”, “Yo no puedo comprender”, “Corazón qué has hecho”.

Originally published in the Tango y lunfardo magazine, Nº 66, Chivilcoy 23 April 1991.