Ricardo García Blaya

e was born in Colonia Belgrano, province of Santa Fe. Undoubtedly a charismatic showman, controversial, histrionic, loquacious, a media celebrity; praised and criticized, is, above all things, a popular emblematic character in the communication media of Argentina.

His beginnings were onstage —which he never quit— but his true consecration was, firstly, on the radio and, later, on television as conductor and emcee. His work as tango wordsmith —which started at a very young age— ran always in parallel, hidden behind his profession.

He was the creator and director of Matinata, a radio program with great acclaim in the audience, four hours long, which daily included up to forty different tangos in a vision covering periods, trends and figures, with explanations about the universe of our urban music made by outstanding specialists of the genre. This daily radio program later became Soldán esquina tango.

His career was vertiginous. While he was still a student in high school he began to present shows. Thereafter he became an actor and quit his studies at the Law School. As such he appeared at independent theaters and joined radio casts. He appeared alongside Julia Sandoval, Eduardo Rudy, Horacio Torrado, and Patricia Castel, among others.

As from the mid-50s he was master of ceremonies of the traditional Confitería Richmond on Suipacha Street; of the cabaret Empire, of the Café Adlon and of the tearoom in the Gath & Chaves store.

Later he teamed up with Carlinhos for the successful tours of the latter’s La Bandita, together with the brothers Juan José and Dino Ramos —the latter was the popular writer of so many hits by Palito Ortega—, with whom he formed the Dúo de Dos in 1960.

In 1959 he made his debut on TV Channel 7 with two programs: Varieté, I have a vague memory of this show, and Tangos de Sobremesa which was widely watched. The latter showcased Los Violines de Oro, an aggregation led by Enrique Francini and Héctor Stamponi and which included Kicho Díaz on double bass and the violinists José Nieso, Adolfo Gendelman, Vicente Tagliacozzo, Simón Bajour, Luis Gutiérrez del Barrio, Hugo Baralis and Juan Ghirlanda.

On June 9, 1960 the TV Channel 9 was opened and it hired him for many years. He was the emcee of El Special, an international revue which featured renowned stars of the singing world. He also emceed Grandes Valores del Tango for twenty-five years —probably his greatest TV hit— and later Feliz Domingo, a weekly TV program for secondary school students of the entire nation with games and entertainments that lasted from 8 to 10 hours, but it had no connection with popular music.

As from April 1, 1973 he directed and emceed the above mentioned Matinata on Radio El Mundo. It is important to highlight the important level of collaborators that backed him in this program. Among them we can mention, for example, Julián Centeya and Dr. Florencio Escardó.

The program switched to Radio Splendid in the early September 1976 with a new name: Soldán Esquina Tango and it included the poet Alberto Mosquera Montagna, Héctor Gagliardi, César Tiempo, Carlos D’Agostino, Néstor Carbia, Fernando Tornello, Ernesto Testa, Roberto Cassinelli, Raúl Fernández, Fernando Navas and the producer was Pablo Vagner.

He appeared in a lot of movies, most of them in a light vein, along with Sandro, Elio Roca, Hugo Del Carril, Juan Verdaguer, Ernesto Bianco and Juan Carlos Calabró.

In theater he was protagonist of the comedy of French origin, Vengo por el aviso, with the vedettes Norma and Mimí Pons.

He received almost all the awards given in Argentina, among them, the Premio Konex; the Cruz de Plata (Silver Cross) Esquiú, twice; the Arcángel San Gabriel (Archangel St. Gabriel), twice; the Martín Fierro, eight times, and he is regarded as one of the hundred figures of our national show business of all times. And furthermore, there is a street corner that bears his name: the one on Corrientes and Carlos Pellegrini.

It is not pertinent to argue about the literary quality of his lyrics, but we have to single out his best known pieces, some of them in collaboration with great composers of our popular music.

His tango most widely spread and with a large number of recordings is “Sabor de adiós” with music by Mariano Mores and committed to record by the latter’s orchestra with Claudio Bergé on vocals in 1968; also the well-remembered recordings by Alfredo De Angelis with Carlos Aguirre in 1970 and the one by Héctor Varela with Jorge Falcón in 1973, as well as the beautiful renditions by María Graña and Rosanna Falasca.

Another number I like very much is “Por un papel” with music by José Basso and recorded by Rodolfo Lesica in 1960 and, among others, by the female singers Silvia Del Río and María Garay. It was also recorded by Carlos Moreno in an interesting rendering that can be found in Todo Tango.

His waltz “Hoy la he visto pasar a María” with music by Hugo Marcel was a smash hit by the singer Miguel Montero, firstly, and later by Nito Mores and Ricardo Chiqui Pereyra.

Furthermore, we may also mention the tangos, “Así bailaban mis abuelos” and “El final de un cuento”, both with Héctor Varela; “Los momentos que perdí”; the songs “Cuando existe tanto amor”, with Sandro and “Dos valientes”, with Horacio Guarany; and the waltz “Y el viejo no está”.

Recently, I came to know Soldán in flesh and blood at the birthday party of a woman friend of us both and, on that occasion, I was able to witness his pleasantness, his intelligence and his humility, attributes of a true tango man.