Alberico Spatola

Real name: Spatola, Alberico Salvador
Trumpeter, pianist, bandleader and composer
(15 April 1885 - 7 July 1941)
Place of birth:
Montevideo Uruguay

e was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, but his parents decided to move to Buenos Aires where he lived in his childhood and nearly all his lifetime. Member of a musical family, when he finished grade school he began his music studies with José, his father.
The trumpet was his first instrument and later, the piano. Back in 1909 he composed a tango, “La sucursal”, with which he won the first prize at a contest of the Teatro Avenida.

In 1913 his debut as professional player took place at the Parisién café on 300 Esmeralda Street when he played as trumpeter of a ballroom orchestra. On that occasion he composed his most well-known number, the tango “13” (“Trece”), symbol of the year of its creation. Ángel Villoldo wrote its lyrics.

From that moment on Spatola composed numbered tangos, regardless of the year, up to number 25; some of them with a subtitle. Thereafter he abandoned this procedure and he entitled his tangos in the customary way.

In 1914 he put together his own tango orchestra with which he appeared at the carnival balls of the Teatro Coliseo.

As pianist and leading his orchestra he made his first public performance in Montevideo in 1916. That same year he played in Tucumán as lead trumpet of the orchestra that accompanied the Italian tenor singer Enrico Caruso.

In 1922 he joined the music band of the Federal Police as second leader; he became director in 1934 and he renew the repertoire of that band by including a large number of pieces by Argentine composers and even some tangos.

In 1928 he had a brief tenure in the ballroom orchestra headed by Alberto Castellanos that played at the Grand Splendid Theatre. In that aggregation he played clarinet and his fellow players were renowned names like Remo Bolognini and Juan José Castro in the violin section and José María Castro on cello.

The author of “Por dónde andará”, Salvador Merico, in 1913 dedicated to him his first tango which he entitled “Spatola”.

He was a prolific composer: “Andate y no vuelvas” with lyrics by Luis De Biase, “Cacholo” with words by Luis Roldán, “Cervantes”, “Club Pentagrama”, “De mil amores [c]”, “Don Faustino” (dedicated to: «The honorable Mr. Faustino Da Rosa»), “El bacilo”, “El calaverón”, “El distinguido”, “El importuno”, “El indiscreto”, “El très jolie”, “Farolito”, “Mi viejo pago”, “Muy de la corbata”, “Parra”, “Piruja”, “Pisa morena”, “¡Qué chinche!”, “Tapón” («Dedicated to the popular trainer Vicente Fernández»), “Un mal trago”, “Va el chip”.

Among the numbered tangos: “Trece”, “Catorce (Petit duc)” with words by Villoldo, “Quince (Pido la palabra)”, “Dieciséis” (according to Horacio Ferrer: «one of the most profound and beautiful ones. It was always one of the tangos that Arturo Rubinstein preferred. He even played it in the autobiographical movie El amor a la vida of 1971»), “Diecisiete”, “Dieciocho (Luisito)”, “Diecinueve (Al Coliseo vamos a bailar)”, “Veinte (Caramba)”, “Veintiuno (Chona)”, “Veintidós (Totó)”, “Veintitrés (Contra la yeta)”, “Veinticuatro (Bartolito)” y “Veinticinco (Qué tigre)”.

He also made attempts in other genres: “Angélica [b]” (waltz); “A la voz de aura [b]” (ranchera); “Coquito” (two-step); “Sección Tráfico” (march-pasodoble).

1. Veniard, Juan María: en Antología del Tango Rioplatense - Desde los comienzos hasta 1920. Apéndice 4 «Principales autores e intérpretes», Instituto Argentino de Estudio Sobre el Tango - Instituto de Musicología Carlos Vega, Buenos Aires 1980.
2. Ferrer, Horacio: El libro del tango, Antonio Tersol Editor. Barcelona, 1980.