Oscar Zucchi

e belongs to the generation of the period 1910-1925 and stood out among the youngest ones of it. He was one of the players with most polished technique that continued the style of Arturo Bernstein, who was his teacher. But, save for his peers, he did not reached the recognition he deserved. Possibly, because he left the country when he was thirty and then in Europe he became bandleader and composer.

But as his interest was aimed at achieving a perfect technique as player, he did not devote much time to being a composer and he evidenced that he did not possess gifts as impresario. Instead, for example, Manuel Pizarro showed the contrary in France despite he was a musician of inferior musical capabilities.

As he had a pale face and blond hair somebody said he looked like an Englishman, hence his nickname. His beginnings as professional musician date back, possibly, to 1921 when he joined a quartet led by El Gordo Juan Carlos Bazán at the magnificent Tigre Hotel. The other players were Fidel Del Negro, author of “La mina del Ford” and Ricardo González (El Muchila).

That same year he was appearing at the Teatro Ópera with one of the orchestras fronted by Francisco Canaro with his brothers Juan and Rafael, Luis Ricardi and Rafael Tuegols. In 1922, he was with another aggregation headed by Canaro at the Casino Pigall on 340 Maipú Street, with Humberto Canaro on piano (even though he played the bass better) and, among others, Anselmo Aieta and Ángel Danesi.

Other appearances of the group were at the Royal Pigall, on Corrientes 825, and at the Armenonville, on Alvear and Tagle, a restaurant-cabaret with arbors in the open air.

His excellent technical gifts attracted the attention of Roberto Firpo who hired him as staff musician to team up with Juan Bautista Guido, a neat musician, with a good sound but with a fingering less fluid in comparison with “El Inglesito”. It was 1923 and the members of the orchestra were Luis Cosenza (piano), Cayetano Puglisi, Elvino Vardaro and “Piscoto” Scaglione (violins) and Alfredo Corleto (double bass). They appeared at the renowned venues of the city and also at the movie theaters owned by Max Glücksmann, who also was the publisher of Discos Nacional. They recorded there and Firpo, among others, recorded the few numbers that his bandoneon player had composed. Surely, this time in his life was the most important here, in his country. That year on a tour of the province of La Pampa he met Carlos Gardel.

The following year, he and Cosenza split with the group to join the violinist Eduardo Bianco who was to travel to Europe. In Paris, and for a few days, they joined the group led by Eduardo Arolas which had a brief tenure due to the latter’s illness and later death.

Bianco joined the Manuel Pizarro orchestra. Schumacher joined a musical aggregation lined up with French players, even though some authors say that he played with Genaro Espósito. In 1925, Bianco was not satisfied with being a sideman in an orchestra, he wanted to front an outfit. So he got in touch with Bachicha Deambroggio that used to appear successfully in Madrid. They came to an agreement and the orchestra was then known as Bianco-Bachicha. Schumacher was immediately summoned. So its members were Fioravanti Di Cicco (piano), Héctor Artola (bandoneon), Agesilao Ferrazzano, Miguel Tanga (violins) and Mario Melfi (drums). The other bandoneon players were Bachicha and Schumacher.

That same year he joined again Francisco Canaro or, more precisely, the orchestra that was now in charge of his brothers Rafael and Juan, because Francisco returned to Buenos Aires. They were successful and toured several European countries.

In 1927, he finally decided to put together his own group, with three bandoneons, three violins, piano, guitar and double bass. In 1929, he returned to his country but soon traveled again to France. In 1932, he was called by the pianist Juan Cruz Mateo who conducted the orchestra that backed up the Gardel’s appearances. So he played in the songs performed by the singer in the movie “Melodía de arrabal”. The group also included Julio Fernández Falcón, Ángel Maffia and Gerardo Martínez (bandoneons), Juan Andrés Ghirlanda, Esteban Rovati and the Spaniard Aranaz (violins) and Horacio Pettorossi and Esteban Gutiérrez (guitars).

When World War II broke out José Schumacher decided to return to his country. His work as composer was scarce and some of his numbers had no recognition. Instead, it is worthwhile to stand out: “Hay una virgen” (co-written with Cayetano Puglisi) recorded by Roberto Firpo for Odeon in 1924. With the same name as the tango by Mario Pardo and Lord Byron; “Para siempre” (in collaboration with Luis Cosenza. Recorded by Firpo in 1923); “Pobre ñata”, acoustically recorded by Firpo in 1924; “Sacate la caretita” (in collaboration with Cosenza). Recorded by Firpo in 1923 and, on the other side of the record, another piece of his mentioned above, “Para siempre”. “Sacate la caretita” was also recorded by Gardel, an acoustical recording of 1924, accompanied by the guitarists José Ricardo and Guillermo Barbieri.

Excerpted from his book El tango, el bandoneón y sus intérpretes, Volume II.