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Poetas
Bandoneonist, director and composer
(August 5, 1905 - July 9, 1970)
Full name: Ángel Ciriaco Ortiz Barrionuevo
Nickname: Ciriaquito

More Ortiz:

nce it was said about his virtuosity: «He made true the almost miraculous prodigy that someone who was not a porteño was able to produce embellishments and pirouettes with a bandoneon that a few tango players from Buenos Aires achieved». And added «it would be absolutely impossible to transcribe in a music staff what he plays in his instrument. What he contributes is the way of phrasing, of dividing the melody, of finding nuances, of harmonizing. It is a style with reminiscences of the guitar plucking of the milonguero criollo, which even though it has had no followers it may have much influenced Aníbal Troilo

He grew up in a little town's heterogenous musical environment, the joint "Don Ciriaco" run by his father, a bandoneon player as well and composer of the waltz "Viaje a Argüello". His childhood was filled with our national music in all its forms and beats. As a child he also started to learn playing bandoneon and with it, tango.

People say that around 1920 Roberto Firpo, on tour of the province of Córdoba, turned up. Ciriaquito, who was just fifteen years old, probably, replaced Pedro Maffia, who was absent due to a temporary illness. But his launching took place when another visitor, the pianist Nicolás Vacaro, heard him. It was 1923 and the musician persuaded him into traveling with him to Buenos Aires. He accomodated him in his house and introduced him to Juan Carlos Bazán, leader of the orchestra in which he was playing. Soon later he made his debut in Mar del Plata at the Pueyrredón club.


Ciriaco's tercet, with Edmundo Zaldivar and Vicente Spina

1925 was a fruitful year for him. He was hired to play at the Gaumont cinema theater, and then he put together a group that initially was comprised by Nicolás Di Massi on bandoneon, Marcos Larrosa and Juan Ríos on violins, and Eliseo Ruiz on piano. Furthermore he joined the Victor label as member of the staff orchestra of the recording company that Adolfo Carabelli was putting together. In it he stayed for about twenty years. He was in its initial line-up and in the first recording on November 9, 1925 which committed to wax the tangos "Olvido" by Angel D'Agostino and "Sarandí" by Juan Baüer. He played alongside te bandoneon players Luis Petrucelli and Nicolás Primiani, the violinists Manlio Francia, Agelisao Ferrazano and Eugenio Romano, with Vicente Gorrese on piano and Humberto Costanzo on string bass.

He made his debut on Radio Cultura in 1927 and later he switched to Radio El Mundo, where he stayed for twenty years. During that time he played in the following orchestras: Vardaro-Pugliese, Francisco Canaro and Julio De Caro. He also accompanied the singer Antonio Rodriguez Lesende with a trio that, besides him, comprised Juan Carlos Cobián and Cayetano Puglisi.

It would be quite difficult to mention all the artists he accompanied and his uncountable performances, but I would like to highlight his appearance in the carnival balls at the Teatro Politeama with a big orchestra conducted by Juan Carlos Cobián and add a brief paragraph about the poll organized by the Revista Sintonía to choose the most popular musicians in which he was selected alongside Pedro Maffia, Elvino Vardaro and the brothers Julio and Francisco De Caro. Maffia resigned and was replaced by the one following in number of votes: Carlos Marcucci. This all-star group performed on Radio El Mundo and recorded four numbers: "Un lamento", "Tierra querida", "El tirabuzón" and "Chiclana".

In 1950 he played with the Mariano Mores Orchestra at the Teatro Alvear. An idea devised by Homero Manzi, who was also the announcer, was the group "los cinco ases Pebeco" in which he played along with Marcucci, Maffia, Laurenz and Piana. They made their debut on Radio Stentor. On a radio show he appeared in a duo setting with the pianist Lucio Demare, and he as well appeared backed by many well-known guitarists. Among them, we have to mention three. Two of them nearly permanent members of his renowned Trio Ciriaco Ortiz: Ramón Andrés Menéndez y Vicente Spina, the latter composer of "Tu olvido", "Me quedé mirándola", "Loco turbión" and other outstanding pieces. The third one who accompanied him in his latter days on the scenario of "El viejo almacén" was Edmundo Porteño Zaldívar. This good guitarist joined the Ricardo Tanturi Orchestra in 1938 and was member of the splendid Cuarteto Troilo-Grela in the 50s. Furthermore, he was composer of many songs, among them the folk hit "El humahuaqueño" stands out.

He started to record with his trio on March 20, 1929. The pieces released were a gato and a chacarera that he had composed. His last disc was recorded on September 15, 1955. With it he reached 260 recordings for RCA-Victor. Subsequently, he recorded twelve numbers more for TK.

We can add this curious information: around 1952 and 1953, still in the Victor label, he put together a sextet to record four tangos: "Recuerdos de la pampa", "El verde", "Canaro" and "Una noche de garufa". With the Ciriaquito Orchestra he had also recorded four numbers between 1931 and 1932: a fox-trot, two tangos and a chacarera.

Taking into account the recordings he made with the Orquesta Los Provincianos between 1931 and 1934, his discography comprises 310 recordings.

At his father's local, the former died in 1942, he met Carlos Gardel in his inevitable visits when he was on tour in Córdoba. El Zorzal recorded two of his compositions: "Sueños" with lyrics by Eugenio Cárdenas and "Nena" with lyrics written by Juan Carlos Bazán. But his most important tango was, no doubt, "Atenti pebeta" with lyrics by Celedonio Flores.

His capabilities as player have not surpassed his permanent humor which produced fluent funny sayings and all kind of jokes.
He said about the female singer Tania: «Her first identity card was issued by Commander Cuitiño, second in authority to Juan Manuel De Rosas in the mid- nineteenth century.» And he added «She arrived in America as stewardess of one of Columbus' vessels». About Edmundo Rivero: «When he was a kid he used to play with toy trains but in Retiro railway station with real trains». «His choice opera was Manon (Big hand)». About the singer Alberto Gómez: «When he woke up, his wife handed him a mate and a hat», and like these jokes, any more.

Music meant for him his passion and his way of living, and music accepted and recognised him. He was always welcome because of his permanent smile and his easy humor. He is, undoubtedly, a school for bandoneon players and a person who deserves to be well-remembered.