Julio Nudler

or Mario Abramovich it turns out difficult talking about himself. And even as violinist, whether due to shyness or insecurity, he avoided attracting attention. So, one of the conditions he laid out when he joined the Sexteto Mayor as substitute for Reynaldo Nichele was that he would never play a solo. But from the start, in his first appearance, he was assigned four intricate solos. Disgusted, paying no attention to the consequences, in the middle of a tango performance he put the violin in its case and left. On that evening they were playing at the Casa de Gardel. The other violinist at that time, Fernando Suárez Paz, went out and followed him along Jean Jaurés Street and persuaded him to come back, by promising to respect his wish. But the next day Suárez Paz split with the sextet and Abramovich, momentarily the only violinist, had to play all that he had sworn not to play. Later Hugo Baralis joined them. But, after many conflicts with the other members, the latter was replaced by Mauricio Mise. The latter played in the group until a serious illness forced him to quit. That vacant post was then filled by Eduardo Walczak.

David Abramovich, his father, had come from the Ukrainian city of Ekaterinoslav (Dnepropetrovsk) in 1905, running away from the Russian-Japanese war. He boasted of having established the first cap Factory in Buenos Aires and, no less than in the house where Domingo Faustino Sarmiento had dwelled, which today is a museum. David, married and with two children, was widowed and again married then with Rosa Diarnantstein, a young girl who was born in the Polish Galitzia. Into that second marriage Mario was born on October 31, 1926 at the house on 354 Warnes Street. When he was six his father, crying, told him he was broke, that he had lost everything, including the house which had to be auctioned. They had to resign themselves to live then in a tenement house on Villarroel and Darwin, near the fields of the Atlanta and Chacarita Juniors clubs. Thereafter, after they settled in Flores, David used to buy used suits and with the cashmere he managed to recover he crafted caps. That was what he was able to do. Mario had been studying violin since he was seven, forced by his parents who, despite their shortage, gathered 10 pesos a month for the teacher. The first teacher he had was fired because one day he hit his pupil so fiercely with the violin bow on his head that made him bleed. He had simply gone beyond with a punishment which, at that time, was completely normal. When Mario finished his grade school he began to work in a factory that manufactured gloves where he earned 30 pesos a month. There he had to carry leather bundles from the tannery on Gurruchaga and Murillo and to stand the mistreatment of the boss. Mario’s older brother, seeking revenge, one night climbed to the balcony of that exploiter and defecated there as much as he could. But the following day when the kid arrived at his working place, he was ordered by his perplexed, furious boss to clean that shit. Mario cursed to himself the help of his protective brother.

At age fifteen he joined -on a recommendation by Ciriaco Ortiz, whom he had met in his adventures at the cafés- the Nicolás D'Alessandro orchestra, whose lead bandoneon player was the great Gabriel Clausi. That early experience ended abruptly: one evening, pressed by his musicians, D'Alessandro asked the Marabú’s owner a raise in the contract. Instead, what he got was the immediate dismissal which caused the disbandment of the group. But Mario did not stay inactive for a long time. In 1943 he was summoned for the excellent Howard-Landi orchestra, a team formed by the talented pianist Juan Carlos Howard and the handsome singer Mario Landi. They played charts written by Argentino Galván and Ismael Spitalnik and appeared on Radio El Mundo and at the Marabú.

His career in tango went on with Argentino Galván, in the orchestra that the exceptional musician from Chivilcoy conducted on Radio Belgrano at the time when he presented as vocalists Carlos Vidal and the Arce sisters. Abramovich played also in the aggregation of the picturesque Ebe Bedrune, La mujer tango (The Tango Woman) in which Bernardo Lerner was the lead violin.

As for those late 40’s, in fact, it would be easier to mention in what orchestras Abramovich did not play. He played in twelve of them by the same time and appeared on the three great radio stations: El Mundo, Belgrano and Splendid. Some of those aggregations were the one led by Manuel Buzón, Edgardo Donato, Lorenzo Barbero, Héctor de la Fuente, Carlos Demaría, Pedro Laurenz and Francisco Rotundo. Furthermore, he played in recordings when the first level orchestras like Aníbal Troilo, Osvaldo Fresedo and Juan D'Arienzo needed extra players to enhance the sound. But so much activity only allowed him to live decorously. It was not even enough for him to buy a house. He only had his own house in 1970, twenty-one years after he married Dora Margulies.

Due to his aversion to playing solos, Abramovich was at ease in the orchestra led by the bandoneon player Héctor Varela which was far from all virtuosity. As lead violin of that mediocre outfit (that only in its beginnings, between 1950 and 1952, displayed a certain musical quality with charts by Alberto Nery and Ernesto Rossi), had the task of making get along the section of five violins (among them, Roberto Guisado) that rehearsed separately. The inclusion of Abramovich as lead violin, firstly, gave rise to resistances which drove him to split with the aggregation. But Varela insisted and imposed him as head of the string section. After those initial frictions, Guisado became one of his closest friends. Meanwhile, the orchestra was a boom. The tango market maybe was in decline for others but, with Argentino Ledesma and Rodolfo Lesica on vocals, Varela was living his apotheosis. But he made the fatal mistake of leading a lock-out with the bandleaders in 1956 and firing all his musicians. From that parenthesis and because of Ledesma’s switch to Carlos Di Sarli, Varela was unable to recover.

Abramovich never was a studious violinist. He only turned to a teacher when he guessed he was hitting bottom. He spent days and nights by playing tango on radio stations, balls, cafés and cabarets. However, in 1963 he succeeded in being admitted after being qualified for the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Teatro Colón. For that he had been intensively trained by maestro Abraham Seleson. On that occasion, after performing with Florindo Sassone, he went home to change clothes and from there to the Colón for an audition playing Bach, Bruch and with the serenity of someone who beforehand accepts that shall be condemned. When, instead, he knew he had succeeded, being allowed to join the first violins, he went out the theater and walked as if stepping on cotton until the wee small hours of the morning. So his fifteen-year tenure in the Filarmónica started, with appearances also in the Estable (staff orchestra) as added violinist. That same contest allowed other four tango violinists to enter the Filarmónica: Enrique Francini, Julio Graña (first violins), Carmelo Cavallaro and José Votti (second violins).

But classical music did not displace tango. Abramovich, as member of the Héctor Varela orchestra, continued with it until he joined the Sexteto Mayor in 1973. The tours that every time became longer forced him to take a decision. So it was that he stepped down from the Colón in 1977. In fact, he had arrived there looking for a stable occupation when the job sources were disappearing for tango: cabarets were closed and dancehalls were then almost inexistent. But the sextet fronted by Luis Stazo and José Libertella, born as the meeting of six soloists that wanted to play good tango, managed to jump the barrier of an Argentina that was indifferent and, sometimes, hostile and achieved abroad what was impossible here: to be a boom by playing tango. In 1983 Tango Argentino arrived, a show staged in Paris for six performances but which remained for nine years in the billboards and was a special success on Broadway. Thereafter the international success of Tango Pasión came and the definitive entry of the Sexteto Mayor in the profitable vein of tango music-hall, with the imaginable concessions.

As composer, Abramovich can show two tangos, both in collaboration with the bandoneonist Luis Stazo: “Preludio a Francini”, as homage to the great violinist, and “De moño”. They composed a third tango, also an instrumental, but it has no title yet. It is useless to ask what part each one wrote in those pieces: that is a secret they promised to keep.