by Julio Nudler
Musician, pianist, conductor, composer and arranger
(February 26, 1918 - April 28, 1951)
Full name: Osmar Héctor Maderna
pianist strongly inclined to romanticism, viewed as the Chopin of the tango. His subtle, almost ethereal and suggestive touch, deprived of any emphasis or pomposity, led him to create an orchestral style based on the same pattern. Plain and transparent, his arrangements conceived fancy solos alternating piano, bandoneon and violin. That style of his, born toward 1940, influenced the entire decade and contrasted with both the popular tango (with Juan D´Arienzo as remarkable example) and the academic tango (Aníbal Troilo). His tangos lack any tough or coarse traces but also any symphonic pretension. He preferred to convey a simple emotion and accurate expression, which he achieved through a permanent self-control.
Maderna was born in Pehuajó, a small inland city, 300 km southwest of Buenos Aires, located in a productive rural area. He was the eighth son of Juan Maderna, a local musician who played the accordion and the harmonium. At the age of 13, Osmar jointly with some local musicians organized the orchestra "Vitaphone". In 1938 he arrived in Buenos Aires where he performed, on the radio, as soloist, classical, soft music and tango pieces, in addition to joining a second rate typical orchestra. But his luck reverted when he was called by the bandoneon player Miguel Caló, in October 1939 to substitute the pianist Héctor Stamponi.
Though interacting with some other young talented musicians who were already or would become part of that orchestra, such as the violinist Enrique Mario Francini and the bandoneon players Eduardo Rovira, Armando Pontier and Domingo Federico, all of whom would then succeed on their own, Maderna actually changed the history of the group. That orchestra would leave us eighty recordings such as the instrumental versions of "Sans Souci" by Enrique Delfino or "Inspiración" by Peregrino Paulos, among others, in which it can be appreciated not only Maderna´s orchestral concept but also his great solos. Mention should also be made of outstanding singers such as Raúl Berón, Alberto Podestá, Jorge Ortiz and Raúl Iriarte, the last of whom was, although not the best, the most representative of that orchestra.
Those dazzling times ended in 1945 when Maderna and Iriarte decided to leave on their own and form a duet which would not last much. Then, the singer returned with Caló - more of a businessman than a musician- and Osmar moved forward with his own orchestra. He made his debut with that orchestra at the mythical Marzotto, one of the legendary tango cafés on Corrientes Avenue, the core of the "porteño" downtown, that did not survive the following decade. Maderna would also succeed at another café: Tango Bar, and on the two major radio stations of the time: El Mundo and Belgrano.
In 1946, Maderna recorded for the Uruguayan "Sondor" company his first two records including the remarkable "Chiqué" (instrumental) a classic piece by Ricardo Luis Brignolo to which the pianist gave his own touch. Also remarkable were two pieces sang by Orlando Verri, the most outstanding singer in the history of this orchestra. In May of that year he started recording in Argentina for the Victor Company totalling 52 themes with his last record on March 29, 1951. A month later, on April 28, he died while flying his own plane.
Those records included several great instrumental pieces such as a new version of "Chiqué" (or "El Elegante" -the new name imposed by the censorship prevailing since 1943 ); "Ojos Negros", by Vicente Greco; "Loca Bohemia" by Francisco De Caro; "El Bajel", a beautiful and virtually ignored tango by Julio and Francisco De Caro; "El Marne" by Eduardo Arolas; "El Baqueano", "Qué noche" and "El Rodeo", by Agustín Bardi, "El pillete", by Graciano de Leone; "Charamusca", by Francisco Canaro, "Inspiración", by Peregrino Paulos, "La Cautiva", by Carlos Vicente Geroni Flores, and "Aromas" by Osvaldo Fresedo, among others. This repertoire shows Maderna's refined taste in choosing his tangos.
Apart from Verri, Maderna also had other significant voices such as Mario Corrales (renamed Mario Pomar, who would later succeed with Carlos Di Sarli's orchestra), Héctor de Rosas (later, singer in Astor Piazzolla's first quintet) and Adolfo Rivas. Another singer of many of that orchestra's recordings was Pedro Dátila. Of the instrumental tangos composed by Maderna, the most renown is "Lluvia de Estrellas" conveying, like others, his double nature of romantic pianist (very much influenced by Chopin´s waltzes and nocturnes) and pilot. Also famous is his "Concierto en la Luna" and not that famous despite its beautiful subject, "Escalas en Azul". His greatest success came with his waltz "Pequeña", written by Homero Expósito and recorded by Maderna in 1949 with the voice of Hector de Rosas. Other significant tangos were "La noche que te fuiste", with José María Contursi, "Volvió a llover" and "Rincones de París", both with Cátulo Castillo.
After his fatal accident, his mate -the violinist Aquiles Roggero- gave continuity to this style -all through the 50s- with the orchestra "Símbolo Osmar Maderna". Its main vocal interpreter was Adolfo Rivas. The recordings made by that famous band include "Notas para el cielo", a tango which Orlando Trípodi -Maderna's substitute at the piano- wrote in homage to him. Interesting to note is Miguel Caló's firm support of Maderna's style despite they were no longer together.