Ricardo García Blaya

e was a musician with a limited style, with a primitive conception of the genre prior to tango milonga which later became popular when he had already left Buenos Aires. Despite this we have to highlight certain melodic features that singled him out from other contemporary peers. The guitar was his first instrument and, after some years, he definitively switched to piano.

We may say that his real importance is because he was one of the tango pioneers in Paris. He arrived there after the tour in 1907 of the Gobbis and Ángel Villoldo who went there to cut recordings for the Gath & Chaves label. And also after the tour of Carlos Vicente Geroni Flores with Enrique Saborido in 1911 which was regarded as the first incursion of our artists in Europe.

Celestino was part of the second incursion, in 1913, with the bandoneon player Vicente Loduca, the violinist Eduardo Monelos, the dancer Casimiro Aín and his partner Martina. This voyage to Paris on the Sierra Ventana steamship was paid by Alberto López Buchardo, musician and refined man of the high society of Buenos Aires.

They got a job at the Cabaret Princesse, that later would turn into the mythical cabaret El Garrón which was located on the upper story of the rue Fontaine, number 6 b. Downstairs there was the Deux Masques Theater which later became the cabaret Palermo.

It was an event that, no doubt, became the milestone that served as the antecedent for those who, years later, crowned the consecration of our music in those far away lands: Manuel Pizarro, Eduardo Bianco, Genaro Espósito, Bachicha, Eduardo Arolas, Francisco Canaro, Julio De Caro and the great Carlos Gardel.

For posterity the most important thing was the series of discs they recorded in Paris in 1913 for the Pathé label under the names of either Orquesta Típica Loduca or Rondalla Ferrer, conducted by V. Loduca. This series covers a total of 46 tangos, 10 waltzes and 2 canciones criollas (folk songs).

Because of a contract to appear in Brazil as magician, his other occupation, Loduca split with the orchestra and Celestino asked Güerino Filipotto to embark to Paris to replace him. The Brazil gig was short and in 1914 he was hired by the Victor record company for recording 15 numbers in Camdem, New Jersey. Among the tangos he recorded is Ferrer’s “Don Severo” on whose sheet music copy we can read: «Dedicated to my beloved friend Saverio Lombardi».

Monelos also quit, ill with tuberculosis and, soon later, he died in the province of Córdoba (Argentina). His place was occupied by José Sciutto of whom we know very little.

Forced by the outbreak of war, Ferrer, Filipotto and El Vasco Aín went to the United States. By that time they worked for a living on anything but music. Pepe Sciutto remained in Paris.

After April 1915 they signed with the Victor label of New York which needed a tango orchestra to level up the results with its competing peer Nacional Odeon which was successful with its record sales due to Roberto Firpo.

In the recording files of the company is found: Orquesta Típica Argentina Celestino: between 1915 and 1919, one hundred and twenty-five recordings plus two piano solos. Among them, a curiosity, the Ernesto Ponzio’s tango, “Ataniche”, but on the disc another componer appears, Roberto Firpo, and another title, “Los Güevara” (July 9, 1915, Victor 67.605) just like Firpo himself had done it before, but without dieresis.

We can highlight: “L'Atelier” (October 13, 1915, Victor 67.687); Pedro Datta’s “Alma dolorida” (March 1, 1916, Victor 67.783); Martín Lasala Álvarez’s “El estagiario” (January 17, 1917, Victor 69.422); the first recording of “Ivette”, instrumental (August 16, 1918, Victor 72.161); “El Pollo Ricardo” (January 17, 1917, Victor 69.421); Alberto López Buchardo’s “Entre dos fuegos” (November 1915, Victor 67.770).

The tango “La aguada” (March 19, 1919, Victor 72.299) was the last recording of this series. Regretfully, today many of the matrices are destroyed. He also recorded for Columbia but we do not have information about it.

In the early twenties, again in Europe, there were many Argentines in Paris and our two boys used to play for the food and very little more. They appeared at the cabaret Princesse and played all kinds of music, jazz, tango, blending in with the French musicians.

In 1921 Manuel Pizarro and Genaro Espósito arrived from Marseilles and put together an orchestra that included Ferrer, Sciutto, Filipotto and five musicians from Paris to play at the cabarets Fontaine and Pavillon Dauphine.

Pizarro says that they had to put on gaucho costumes to play onstage and it was very hard to teach tango to the local players. Clothing and the inclusion of French musicians in the orchestras were conditions imposed by the musicians union of France.

Due to the friendship between Pizarro and an aristocratic Argentine boy who was a tango fan, Vicente Madero, they returned to the Princesse. The latter found a way to introduce them to Ely Volterra, the owner of that cabaret. Madero recommended the orchestra and the owner accepted to run the risk. Tango was a good deal at that time because it was estimated that there were over four thousand Argentines in Paris and most them were acquainted with the venue.

By that time, after a Celestino’s idea, the cabaret changed its name. «Volterra thinks that when the cabaret is crowded by Argentine people he will get rid of those garroneros (freeloaders) French guys that are like a disease». When the impresario knew the meaning of that word, the Princesse became El Garrón and it was by that time that Ferrer composed the tango with the same name, his most popular number.

He was a well-known character in the Parisian nights who was widely acquainted with the Argentines that played in Paris and that were all great artists: Víctor Lomuto, Eduardo Arolas, Mario Melfi, Eusebio Botto and Juan Bautista Deambroggio (Bachicha), among many others.

As for his compositions, to the above mentioned ones “Don Severo” and “El Garrón” we have to add: “La rajada”, “Compadre hachazo”, “Avicultura” and “El encuentro”. The former three recorded by the composer, the latter was recorded by Osvaldo Fresedo in 1923.

He passed away in Hamburg, Deutschland in 1958.