Ricardo García Blaya
| David Pinsón Ovejero

ike many cases in the history of tango, the pianist Pedro Datta is for us someone unknown, despite his oeuvre printed in many piano sheet music copies which fortunately we own and an unforgettable classic, his waltz “El aeroplano”.

So mysterious is his life that the largest information we found was in his death certificate.

Through it we knew he was Argentine, neighbor of Villa Urquiza, with domicile on 4870 Mendoza Street, the place where he died at age 47, at 4:20 am. He was son of Pedro and Dominga Pastore, both Italians —probably from the Turin region— and, that at the time of his death they had already died. He was an employee, single and that’s all.

We also talked to our friend the bandoneonist Gabriel Clausi, (El Chula), who told us: «Pedro Datta was a pianist that used to compose very well but he never appeared in public». Later he remembered that Arturo De Bassi had told him that he admired Pedro Datta «as a great pianist and composer».

Of course, with only that information we had to look after some other sources. So we got to SADAIC (Sociedad Argentina de Autores y Compositores) where we found out that he was founding member number 725 and and that he composed the tangos “El Parque” and “Para ti”; and the waltzes “Alma dolorida”, “Intelectual”, “El aeroplano”, “Flor de un día”, “Flor de una noche”, “La travesía de los Andes” and “Pasión y sentimiento”.

He dedicated the waltz “Flor de un día”: «To my good friend José Felipetti». The latter, in return, dedicated to him the waltz “Rayo amoroso”.

As for his tango “El Parque”, Ricardo Ostuni comments in his note, Los Tangos Radicales, published in the Club de Tango magazine (nº 39, November-December 1999), directed by our well-remembered friend Oscar Himschoot:

«La epopeya del Parque (referring the Artillery Park, epicenter of the Revolution of the 90, located in the now Plaza Lavalle) was immortalized by an old tango: “El Parque”. The composer was Pedro Datta, creator of that lasting waltz called “El aeroplano” (which used to have a lyric by the payador Pancho Cueva —Francisco Bianco—) and to whose beat our old ladies danced on the vine-covered courtyards».

It is important to remember that about the events of the Parque there were other numbers written and even with the same title (see “El Parque [b]”). Let’s see that Ostuni is forced to turn to the popular waltz, due to the lack of documentation about the composer. Neither Datta nor “El aeroplano” are mentioned in Horacio Ferrer’s El Libro del Tango.

As for the well-known waltz, that according to the sheet music published by Felipetti is «Dedicated to my good friend Manuel Aróztegui», the first recording I know is the one by Francisco Canaro in 1915 for the Atlanta label(disc 3017).

We also highlight, among many others, the ones by: the orchestra led by Eduardo Arolas with the singer Francisco Bianco (1917), Roberto Firpo’s orchestra (1920), Adolfo Carabelli’s (1927 and 1928), Ciriaco Ortiz Trio (1933 and 1934), Feliciano Brunelli’s duo (1934),the Cuarteto Firpo (1936), the Juan D'Arienzo Orchestra(1938), Héctor Stamponi’s (1948), Juan Cambareri’s quartet (1949) and the Adolfo Pérez (Pocholo) Orchestra(1950).

There is a curious recording, because after many years it is the second rendition with vocals: the one by the pianist Ariel Ramírez with Tito Argüello on vocals, disc Philips 6347200 (5522), in 1975.

It turns out strange that, Francisco Canaro, an specialist in embellishing and majestically orchestrating waltzes, after his acoustical recording in 1915, had not recorded again “El aeroplano”, a piece tailor-made for him.

Besides this successful waltz which was recorded on many occasions, other titles were recorded: “Alma dolorida”, recorded by Orchestra Celestino Ferrer (Victor 63.783-A, 1916) and Juan D ’Arienzo in 1937; “La travesía de los Andes” (Odeon 475-A) and “Flor de una noche” (Odeon 476-A), both of them by Roberto Firpo in 1916; and, lately, “Intelectual” (wrognly titled “El intelectual”), by the Cuarteto de la Ochava led by the guitarist Pedro Chemes in 1983. Our friend and tango collector Enrique Binda informed us about the information of the acoustics recordings.

Furthermore, he have another sheet music: the waltz “Alma gaucha”, with lyrics by José Fernández and on whose front cover (published by Natalio Héctor Pirovano) it is presented as his posthumous work.

It is always important to know about the career, the life of the musician, the man in flesh and bone, but the creator lasts due to his artistic legacy and, in this case we infer —when listening to his compositions— his fine melodic design, his inborn creativity.

We guess that Pedro Datta lacked a formal technical training because, according to Juan Silbido, Manuel Aróztegui was the one who wrote the music notation of “El aeroplano”.

Bruno Cespi confessed to me that one of his favorite waltzes is “Alma dolorida” and that the rendition made by El Rey del Compás (The King of Beat) is excellent.

We’ve got up to here. We shall go on researching about this remarkable creator, though sunken in the mystery of the past, Todo Tango attempts to rescue him from the even darker depths of oblivion.