Antonio Tormo

Real name: Tormo, Antonio
Nicknames: Mburucuyá
Singer and composer
(18 September 1913 - 15 November 2003)
Place of birth:
General Guitiérrez (Mendoza) Argentina
Néstor Pinsón

e was, undoubtedly, the most popular folk singer that sprang up from the Cuyo region —that comprehended the provinces of San Juan, Mendoza and San Luis—, whom we include here because among his over 300 recordings he cut some tangos, some waltzes and songs that were added to the songbooks of tango singers and tango orchestras.

Widely popular, especially in the most popular sectors of our society, this singer born in the locality of Maipú, Mendoza, was adorned with a clear tenor range, a beautiful melodious voice and a perfect vocal technique. To this we have to add a well chosen repertoire that generated frequent hits.

When in 1955 the military overthrew general Juan Perón a series of decrees were enacted. One of the first ones was a ban for the mass media that prohibited mentioning Perón’s name and exhibiting any thing or sign with a peronist feature. Then a witch hunt started that, in some cases, forced many artists, actors, radio men and popular singers to leave the country and, in other cases, to quit their jobs.

Tormo underwent this for the mere fact of being a popular artist, nobody cared to check if he was a peronist. Because he was admired by the people from the provinces that lived in the big city whom Eva Perón called «my greasy ones» and her enemies scornfully called «the black-faced ones», the censors took for granted that condition. For that reason he switched from being a boom to being completely excluded from society for nearly thirty years.

Even though he never gave up singing —he appeared abroad and sang in his province— he was not aired by the media. However, in 1976 he appeared in the movie El canto cuenta su historia written and directed by Fernando Ayala and Héctor Olivera that featured the top stars of our folk music and our tango.

When we read more about his story we learned that his father had died before his birth and that the ones who raised him were his Mom and his uncle and stepfather Ramón —brother of the deceased— who had been an employee at the Bodegas Giol (winery). He was ten years old when they moved to San Juan where thereafter he studied at the Escuela de Artes y Oficios (school of arts and crafts) where he graduated as professional barrel maker.

When he was a teenager he was acquainted with Diego Manuel Benítez, aka Manuel Canales, guitar player and singer. That friendship launched them to form a vocal duo.

They appeared in family reunions and soon later on LV10 Radio Cuyo. Thereafter they met Eusebio Jesús Dojorti, known as Buenaventura Luna, who suggested them to join the group he was putting together. His group included Remberto Narváez, José Castorina —known by the stage name El Zarco Alejo— and other boys. So the well-remembered Tropilla de Huachi Pampa was born.

After several appearances they went to Buenos Aires and their debut was on Radio El Mundo, by that time the number one radio station. Later the outfit appeared on the radio in the folk soap opera El fogón de los arrieros which, in a way, followed the steps of the successful Chispazos de tradición. Among others, the brothers Alfredo and Julio Navarrine were there and Buenaventura Luna was in charge of the librettos.

In 1942 Tormo, Narváez and El Zarco Alejo split with the group to form Los Arrieros Cantores.

Around 1947 they split up: Narváez went on appearing from time to time while he was waiting for his friend Guillermo Arbós that still had a tenure with the Héctor Stamponi Orchestra. The following year they put together a folk duo which had a long tenure. El Zarco went on as soloist with his compositions and Tormo, who had returned to his province, like the former he decided to go back to Buenos Aires with his four guitarists to take a chance.

Firstly he appeared on Radio Splendid, later on Radio Belgrano and also at the customary venues for popular music. His number of fans was daily increasing and he finally entered the recording studios. After his early recordings for RCA-Victor in 1949 he released a disc with “Los ejes de mi carreta” and the waltz “Amémonos”. The latter was a smash hit that sold a million copies. Audiences used to crowd the room of the radio station where he appeared and a great number of people were unable to enter and had to stay outside.

He became so renowned that he was summoned from Colombia, Chile and Uruguay. And he was also enthusiastically acclaimed in those countries like in his own. He signed contracts for amounts not regular for that time. And in 1950 he released “El rancho ‘e la Cambicha”, a true boom that sold five million copies. He was a main attraction until September 16, 1955 and then ostracism began for him.

When in 1983 democracy was restored he got recognition for his career from several organisms. Of the many ones he got we remember just two. The one of 1999 when the Chamber of Deputies of the Nation awarded him as «Mayor Notable Argentino» and, later, when the Secretaría de Cultura de la Nación awarded him as «Personalidad Emérita de la Cultura Nacional».

Of his tango repertoire, in which waltzes predominate, we highlight:

Amémonos” (waltz) Inspired by a popular air. Music by Alfredo Gobbi and lyrics by Manuel Flores.
A unos ojos” (waltz) Also taken from a popular tune. Music by Carlos Montbrun Ocampo and lyrics by Gabriel Videla.
“Desde el alma” (waltz); “Farol de los gauchos” (zamba).
“Puentecito del río” (waltz). Music by Antonio Tormo and Manuel Canales and lyrics by Buenaventura Luna.
Que nadie sepa mi sufrir” (waltz); “El huérfano” (Popular air) Anonymous; “Idilio trunco” (waltz); “Claveles mendocinos” (zamba).
La limosna” (tango). Music by Juan José Guichandut and lyrics by Horacio Sanguinetti.
Mis delirios” (waltz). Music by Agustín Magaldi and Pedro Noda, and lyrics by Roque Corletto.
Flores del alma” (waltz); “Los ejes de mi carreta” (milonga); Cristino Tapia’s “Las tonadas son tonadas”; “La tropilla” (triunfo); “Tu diagnóstico” (waltz); “A mi madre” (estilo); “Dos que se aman” (waltz). “Vivo en la taberna” (tango), music by José María de Hoyos and lyrics by Carlos Marín; “El adiós” (tango); “El trompetero” (tango), music by José María de Hoyos and lyrics by Atahualpa Yupanqui; “No puedo perdonar” (tango), music and lyrics by Elvira Tomasi; “La pastora” (song), music and lyrics by José Razzano and Saúl Salinas; “Mis harapos” (song).