Horacio Loriente

his great pianist was born in the neighborhood of Congreso. He belonged to the generation of excellent keyboard musicians that included Enrique Delfino, Francisco De Caro, Juan Carlos Cobián and José María Rizzuti, among others. He studied at the Conservatorio Fracassi.

In his beginnings he played piano in the movie theaters when silent movies were projected and later at the intermissions of the performances of the theatrical company led by Angelina Pagano and Francisco Ducasse.

We found his first tango gig in 1915 at the café El Caburé on Entre Ríos Street in Buenos Aires along with Ricardo Luis Brignolo (bandoneon) and Rafael Tuegols (violin). This small group that also included later Atilio Lombardo (violin) appeared in 1917 at the Cabaret Montmartre. There, excepting Tuegols, they had been summoned by Eduardo Arolas for appearances at the Tabarín and, previously, at the Royal Pigall. Riccardi would not play with Arolas and his fellow players at the Tabarín because he was requested by Francisco Canaro to replace José Martínez.

Then at the Royal Pigall we found Riccardi in the autumn of 1918 with the Francisco Canaro Orchestra that included Canaro and Eduardo Ponzio (violins), Minotto Di Cicco and Juan Canaro (bandoneons) and, of course, Riccardi (piano).

«For me it was a great effort to adjust myself to it because it was based on the beat and sometimes it was necessary to sacrifice the music. I was used to play in a different way and I had different aesthetical concepts», he told us.

He was among the pioneers that on December 14, 1920 founded the Asociación Argentina de Autores y Compositores de Música (Argentine Association of Authors and Composers). By that time he released his first tangos: “El pértigo”, “El lucero” and “El metejón”.

Luis Riccardi recalled others of his peers in his tenure in the Arolas’s group such as Tito Rocatagliatta and Luis Bernstein.

In the carnival balls of 1924 at the Teatro Cervantes the Francisco Canaro Orchestra premiered a hit composed by Riccardi: “Piccolo navio”, a humorous tango that soon became popular and was committed to record by Carlos Gardel. That same year the orchestra headed by Canaro opened the season at the Tabarís. The personnel was: Francisco Canaro, Rafael Tuegols and Antonio Buglione (violins), Minotto Di Cicco, Juan Canaro and Ernesto Bianchi (bandoneons) and Riccardi (piano).

The following year Francisco Canaro traveled to Europe and he left in Buenos Aires an Orquesta Canaro led by Luis Riccardi that continued appearing at the Tabarís with Di Cicco, Bianchi and Mario Canaro (bandoneons), Mario Brugni, Rafael Tuegols and Ernesto Ponzio (violins) and the bass player Vicente Sciarretta.

In 1926 he was awarded the first prize at the tango contest sponsored by Max Glücksmann at the Grand Splendid Theatre for a true melodic gem that he entitled “Páginas de amor” and had lyrics by José González Castillo. It was a boom by the excellent orchestra fronted by Osvaldo Fresedo.

By this time, due to his seriousness and his honesty, he was greatly trusted by Pirincho who gave him a position of secretary until he retired. He was arranger and advisor of the aggregation. He carried out an intense schedule and did not leave Buenos Aires when the bandleader traveled again to Europe.

In 1964 Jorge Favetto mentioned the names of the six musicians that accompanied Gardel in the 1930/31 recordings: Luis Riccardi, Ángel Ramos, Federico Scorticati, Cayetano Puglisi, Octavio Scaglione and Olindo Sinibaldi.

He was a brilliant figure in the Canaro’s musical comedies as from La muchachada del centro. A testimony of great quality was committed to record and was the one known as “Intermedio de La Patria del Tango” in which Riccardi plays a memorable piano duet with another unsurpassable musician: Lucio Demare. The latter was also his cousin and he was the one responsible for his association with Canaro.

The above hits encouraged Canaro to hire Mariano Mores in 1939 to play piano duets in the orchestra performances and in the recordings. More than twenty years of continued hard work had elapsed and after a tour of Brazil in 1940, following the instructions of his doctor, Riccardi quit show business. He persuaded Canaro that Mores possessed the necessary experience to continue alone, and so it was.

We have no doubt that the artistry of Riccardi did not succeed into full blossoming in his long tenure in the Canaro’s orchestra. Solo passages and counterpoint were not in the plans of the bandleader. It was showcased, a least, the indisputable personality of a great interpreter with a strong swinging left hand.

He wrote around thirty pieces among which we highlight, besides the above mentioned ones, “Pájaros de fuego” and “Sortilegio”.

Undoubtedly, his name represents one of the most beautiful pages in the history of tango.