Ignacio Corsini

Real name: Corsini, Andrea
Nicknames: El Caballero Cantor
Singer, composer and lyricist
(3 February 1891 - 26 July 1967)
Place of birth:
Agira (Enna) Italy
Roberto Selles

ome time Ignacio Corsini recalled: «Birds taught me the spontaneity of their singing, without witnesses, in the great scenery of Nature. I learnt to sing like them, naturally and with no effort». And precisely, his singing had that simple, town thing, without the interference of what is assimilated at a conservatory.

He was, then, a criollo singer, with no boast of virtuosity, with a style deeply rooted in the payador José Betinotti, but with a clear nasal tone—even though it seems a paradox— typical of the south of Italy.

He was from there, more exactly, from Troina, in the province of Catania (Sicily), even though his surname was from the north and from that origin only remained in him the fair hair and his light blue eyes, like those of the famous pulpera (female store keeper) he alluded to in his song.

He was born on February 13, 1891, with the name Andrés Ignacio, son of Socorro Salomone and a Corsini, whose name and memory did not remain and whom he did not even know. With his mother he arrived in Buenos Aires in 1896. Both settled in Almagro (a neighborhood of Buenos Aires) and, when little Ignacio was seven, they moved to Carlos Tejedor, a city in the province of Buenos Aires. There he worked as an ox driver and herdsman, and it was there were the gaucho little birds taught him the secrets of singing.

Ten years later he was back in Almagro, which was Betinotti's neighborhood as well, with domicile on the street then called Artes y Oficios —later known as Quintino Bocayuva—, at number 567.

And what was inevitable happened, the model and his admirer met. But Corsini was not satisfied with being only an imitator, so he was progressing and developing his own and unmistakable style.

Shortly later, in 1907, he got acquainted with the circus artist José Pacheco, who introduced him to theater and, we can even say that, to marriage as well, since Corsini married his daughter, Victoria Pacheco, in 1911. «In her I found the great partner of all my life, who encouraged me in my uncertain hours and to whom I owe a great part of my success», he would acknowledge in his unpublished autobiography, written in 1950, two years after his wife´s death.

In 1912, he had already achieved a certain prestige as singer-actor —in the José Podestá's and José Arraigada's companies or the circuses of Colombo, Cassell, Casano, etc.— and because of that the Victor label made him record his early discs. It is worth making clear that this is the correct year, because the recording equipment of that company was then in Buenos Aires, and not in 1913, 14 or 15, as sometimes it has been said.

Corsini was, by then, an interpreter of the country repertoire and had waxed waltzes, criollo songs, estilos and habaneras; tango had not yet passed through his throat, as also happened with Carlos Gardel.

When he was still restrained to country style, he was required by the cinema industry to be starred in Santos Vega (1917) and ¡Federación o Muerte! (1917); later, he would appear in Milonguita (1922), Mosaico Criollo (short movies, c. 1930), Rapsodia Gaucha (1932), Ídolos de la Radio (1934) and Fortín Alto (1941, where he was featured with Agustín Irusta and a young and unknown Edmundo Rivero).

He was definitively summoned by the recording studios in 1920, but he still did not dare to dig tango; only after having recorded ten songs, he decided to include one: “Un lamento” (by Graciano De Leone and Pedro Numa Córdoba). From then on, he would become one of the most recognized voices of the porteño genre, not forsaking his country tunes because of that.

In fact, his success as tango singer started after May 12, 1922, when, on the sainete (one-act farce) El Bailarín del Cabaret, he premiered “Patotero sentimental” (by Manuel Jovés and Manuel Romero), what meant, also, the definitive public acclaim.

Another of his interpretations with which he is identified is “Caminito” (by Juan de Dios Filiberto and Gabino Coria Peñaloza), one of the tangos most known in the world, which he popularized as from May 5, 1927 from the Teatro Cómico stage.

But El Caballero Cantor —as he was known— was also composer and lyricist of some works, such as the tangos “Flor marchita” (lyrics by Francisco Bohigas), “Fin de fiesta” (music by Carlos Geroni Flores) and among others, “Aquel cantor de mi pueblo” (music by Enrique Maciel) committed to record by Edmundo Rivero.

He dug other genres as well, being a waltz his own page most known, “Tristeza criolla”, on a poem by Julián de Charras. But the estilo was the genre in which he produced the greatest amount of numbers “Tradición gaucha” (Enrique Maroni), “Juan de los Santos Arena” (Julián de Charras), “A mi palomita” (José María Aguilar), etc.

The numbers written under the singer´s inspiration did not achieve an important recognition, except “Tristeza criolla”, which in the 40s was refurbished by Ángel Vargas.

However, other two authors would be responsible for the big booms which were going to make him be identified as the interpreter of a songbook referring to Rosas’s time, the poet Héctor Pedro Blomberg and his guitarist Enrique Maciel. The mere mention of the titles by this team makes immediately spring up Ignacio Corsini’s name: “La pulpera de Santa Lucía”, “La canción de Amalia”, “La mazorquera de Montserrat”, “China de la Mazorca”, “La guitarrera de San Nicolás”, “Los jazmines de San Ignacio” and many more. To them we ought to add, though about different subjects, “La que murió en París”, “Barrio viejo del ochenta”, “El adiós de Gabino Ezeiza” or “La viajera perdida”.

After the sweetness of success, Corsini felt the bitterness of his late years, after the loss of his wife, a circumstance which made him sing for the last time on May 28, 1949, at the radio show Argentinidad, on Radio Belgrano.

In 1961, he publicly reappeared, before the TV cameras on Canal 7, at the program Volver a vivir. And on July 26, 1967 he closed his eyes forever.

With him a very peculiar voice was gone; surely, the most atypical voice tango had.

Originally published in the fascicle 14 of the collection Tango Nuestro, issued by Diario Popular.