Salvador Merico

Real name: Merico, Salvador
Cellist, pianist, trombonist, bandleader and composer
(24 December 1886 - 15 May 1969)
Place of birth:
Andria (Barletta-Andria-Trani) Italy
Ricardo García Blaya

e was born in Andria (in that time province of Bari), in the southern part of Italy. He was the eldest of nine siblings and he spent his childhood in the city of Lucera, in the same region. His father Luis was a musician and played horn.

He traveled twice to Argentina. When he arrived in Buenos Aires for the first time he was just 20 years-old and had been hired to pay at the Parque Japonés (Japanese Amusement Park). One year later he returned to his country to marry his Italian fiancée.

After a short honeymoon in Paris he traveled to London to appear at the Covent Garden and in November 1911 he returned to Buenos Aires with his wife. Here he settled and remained for the rest of his life.

He had a good academic training as player of horn, trombone and violoncello, finally he devoted to trombone, firstly valve, later slide trombone.

In his adolescence he studied at a conservatory in Dresden (Germany) where he joined different kinds of aggregations and appeared in London, England and, finally he went to South America.

His experience and his musical knowledge allowed him to join as trombonist, firstly the Banda Municipal conducted by maestro Antonino Malvagni and later, the Orchestra of the Teatro Colón in 1915. He played under the most important conductors of that time: Tulio Serafín, Gino Marinuzzi, Ernest Ansermet, Richard Strauss, Clemens Krauss.

He was connected to the Colón until 1921 when a conflict arose and made that a large number of instrumentalists quit the theater and decided to group themselves in the Asociación del Profesorado Orquestal. They as well founded an orchestra.

Merico was among those musicians who from then on would carry out a notable work in that entity. He was president of its culture commission and lead trombone of the Philharmonic Orchestra of the association for seven years. This organism would display a very outstanding activity from 1922 to the early thirties.

By that time he put together the Merico’s Jazz Band that for years appeared to great acclaim at the cabaret Abdulah and which turned out his main income. Several important players were members of this band: Juan José Castro (violin), Oreste Castronuovo (piano), Enrique Castronuovo (violin), Vicente Merico (Salvador’s brother on saxophone), among others.

Soon thereafter that same year his most important and definitive stage came when he was hired by Pascual Carcavallo to musically contribute in the plays staged at the Teatro El Nacional. Since then he was orchestrator, conductor, composer and talent searcher for the Buenos Aires song. So he became one of the most renowned specialists of music for theater.

He advised and backed Azucena Maizani in her first appearance. Her debut was in 1923 with the tango “Padre nuestro”. He taught her to overcome stage fright. Another great female singer he discovered was Libertad Lamarque. She was always thankful for the help of the maestro and because her debut was with one of his tangos: “Tanita de la proa”. He also collaborated with the actress and vocalist Olinda Bozán in all her musical adaptations. Likewise he did with many of the actresses and female singers of our national scene.

In 1934 he was appointed director of the music band of the city of Mar del Plata with which he performed a repertoire of varied genres.

In 1939 the movie Mandinga en la Sierra was premiered. It was directed by Isidoro Navarro and Merico with Rodolfo Sciammarella were in charge of the musical production. In the above movie Luisa Vehil, Pedro Quartucci and the singers Myrna Mores and Francisco Amor are starred, among others.

As composer he wrote successful numbers in tango. Some of them became classics of the genre: “De todo te olvidas (Cabeza de novia)” (First Prize for Music and Lyrics of the Sixth Contest of the Disco Nacional in 1929 at the Palace Theatre); “Seguí mi consejo”, “Por dónde andará”, “Paquetín paquetón”, “Titiriteros”, all these numbers recorded by Carlos Gardel; “Dejalo”, recorded by Rosita Quiroga, “Toque de oración”, with words by the Uruguayan poet Yamandú Rodríguez (Second Prize for Music and Lyrics of the Seventh Contest of the Disco Nacional in 1930), committed to disc by the Francisco Canaro Orchestra on two occasions: one with Ada Falcón on vocals and the other with Charlo.

Besides the above mentioned the following tangos are his: “El as”, “Alhaja falsa”, “El desdeñoso”, “Esperanza”, “Flor de rea”, “Guapo sin grupo” —premiered by Sofía Bozán at the Teatro Sarmiento—, “No me importa”, “Para mi amigo”, “Qué tenés en la mirada”, “Sin rumbo”, “Tanita de la proa”; the song “Raza gaucha”, —recorded by Libertad Lamarque— and the ranchera “Bajo la Santa Federación”.

Among his classical pieces we can mention: chamber songs “La niña del agua” with words by Conrado Nalé Roxlo and “La niña enamorada” with texts by Enrique Guastavino and the ballet “Adrómeda” based on a poem by César Tiempo which was premiered at the Teatro Politeama.

I want to highlight two of his compositions, one as homage to the actress Lola Membrives, an “Intermezzo for violin and piano” that was recorded by Enrique Francini and Atilio Stampone and a “Prelude for piano” recorded by concert piano player Oreste Castronuovo.

Salvador Merico, completely forgotten now, is an evident example of the worthy contribution of the Italian immigrant to our city music and, with these short lines, we wish to rescue not only his oeuvre, talent and mastery but also and foremost his generosity and honesty.