Néstor Pinsón

large number of tango composers have had their greatest hits in their beginnings, in their youth, but later they declined, not in the quality of their pieces but in the public acclaim. And Luis Visca was not the exception to the rule.

After one of his early compositions, the tango “Mi perdón” with lyrics by Carlos Pesce, which was recorded by Ignacio Corsini in 1925 his two greatest hits came: “Compadrón” and “Muñeca brava”. The latter ones were never overshadowed by any of his later numbers. The two numbers bore lyrics by Enrique Cadícamo.

The lyricist himself tells us in his book Mis memorias that one day in 1927 Ratita Rafael Iriarte had come to see him with the news that Visca had a new tango and wanted him to write the lyrics. He went to the movie theater where the musician was playing and after the show the latter played it for him at the bandstand itself. The lyricist thought it was suitable for a festive subject and as it was usual for him he wrote the «monster» (a group of nonsense words but which keep the rhythm of the melody and help to remember it when the time to write the definitive stanzas has come).

In this case his inspiration came when he remembered a person that often visited the Café Paulista in the neighborhood of Flores and who was called Purapinta by the café patrons. And so the lines of “Compadrón” were born.

The tango was premiered by Sofía Bozán at the Teatro Comedia in Rosario. Carlos Gardel who was then in town, knowing that La Negra was appearing there, went to say hello to her. As soon as he heard the piece he was amazed by the noisy acclaim it arose because the full audience was singing along the refrain. That very evening he talked to José Razzano to book the rights for the recording. It was committed to disc on October 6, 1927.

According to Visca, the instrumental premiere took place in Buenos Aires at the Café Germinal. It was played by the Anselmo Aieta’s orchestra in which he was the pianist. As for the theatre in Rosario where Bozán had premiered it, he used to say that it had not been the Comedia (as Cadícamo wrote), but the Teatro Sarmiento.

Muñeca brava” sprang up at the Max Glücksmann contest in 1928 and Gardel recorded it on June 28, 1929.

His early professional appearances as pianist were in the late 1924 at the Cine Colón on Entre Ríos Avenue with a group of friend musicians, among them was Elvino Vardaro. And in 1925 he made his debut on Radio Cultura with a group put together for the occasion.

Thereafter he joined the sextet led by Anselmo Aieta at the time Juan D'Arienzo, Juan Cruz Mateo, Juan Polito, Jorge Argentino Fernández, Gabriel Clausi, Alfredo Gobbi and others passed through its ranks. He joined several aggregations and with the outfit led by Antonio Arcieri made a tour of Brazil.

And the important milestone in his career came when he joined the ranks of Juan D’Arienzo who had inherited an aggregation offered by his friend Ángel D'Agostino that had decided to follow another path and suggested him to take his place. Juan took over the leadership and summoned Visca as pianist. Soon thereafter they teamed up and so the D'Arienzo-Visca Orchestra was born. They stayed together until 1934.

He was a man deeply melancholic, fragile, and was often sick.

Cadícamo was his friend and confident. In his book he tells us that on one occasion before a voyage to Spain, he met Visca and the latter asked him some advice: «Then, all of a sudden he asked me if he should or should not marry. Surprised, I found an excuse in the fact that I was single and that the answer was outside my reach... I quoted Saint Paul: “The one who marries behaves well”. And I managed in avoiding that responsibility by talking about the voyage I would start in a few days’ time.

«On the eve of it I met him again and he showed me his passport while he told me that he was embarking with me on the Conte Rosso. I guessed that he was running away. A group of musicians and singers (the Spaventa brothers, Ángel Maffia and others, from the deck began to sing for their relatives on land those lines that say: “Weep, weep heart, weep if you have reason why, ‘cause there is no offence for a man to weep because of a woman”... For God’s sake! Visca locked himself in his cabin for the longest part of the voyage, he hardly ate, the boys began to call him the fakir».

He split with the D'Arienzo Orchestra in 1934 because of his father’s death. In an interview to Rodolfo Biagi, the latter says that after a tour of Brazil as pianist of Juan Canaro, he was jobless for some time. He used to frequent the Chantecler where his friend D'Arienzo played. Visca was on piano, and on several occasions he was invited to replace him because he was often ill.

Visca, besides his compositions and his own recordings, was also in the movies. In the pioneer film ¡Tango! he accompanies the singer Alberto Gómez when he sings “Alma”.

In 1936 he formed an orchestra for appearances at the Chantecler. In 1940 he fronted a quintet to back up the singer Roberto Ray. And after 1948, he probably found the definitive place in his career when he devoted himself to appear as soloist at different venues, especially on radio stations. I remember his radio shows on Radio El Mundo. His musical style of a simple conception was widely accepted by audiences. As a soloist he recorded a large number of pieces.

Other numbers besides the above mentioned were: “Yo también” recorded by Biagi with Jorge Ortiz on vocals and by many others; “Maldonado” recorded by Osvaldo Fresedo with Ernesto Famá; “Si tuviera vento” and “Barajando recuerdos”, (with lyrics by Cadícamo), the former was recorded by Charlo and the latter by Ricardo Tanturi with Alberto Castillo; “Fanfarrón”, recorded by Rosita Quiroga; “Amanecer”, instrumental, recorded by Julio De Caro; “Ivón”, also by Tanturi with Campos; “No me lo digas” (lyrics by Luis Rubistein), recorded by Enrique Rodríguez with Armando Moreno and by many others.

In one of his orchestral aggregations he included the vocalist Alfredo Castells who, of course, appeared in the recordings of “Compadrón” and “Muñeca brava”.

We are glad to rescue from oblivion a musician of his level, one more of the many ones that made tango a great genre.