Luis Bonnat

Real name: Bonnat, Luis Adolfo
Nicknames: Palito
Bandoneonist, composer, arranger and leader
(25 July 1917 - 17 September 1966)
Place of birth:
Darregueira (Buenos Aires) Argentina
José Valle

is parents —Luis Bonnat and Irene Abadie— were French. Together with his family he settled in Bahía Blanca in 1923 and studied with maestro Olivo Parcaroli.

He joined the orchestra led by Eberardo Nadalini (he was only sixteen when he joined that aggregation) and one of his fellow members was Armando Lacava. They appeared on LU7 Radio San Martín and at balls at clubs and dancehalls.

He traveled to Buenos Aires in 1937, along with Lacava and the bass player Elvio Olivero. He was one of the many musicians that lived in the Pensión de la Alegría (Boarding House of Happiness) on Salta Street. After spending some hardships he managed in joining the cast of LS5 Radio Rivadavia as member of a staff trio and also to back up the singers of the radio station.

Being a good musician and well regarded in the milieu, he was summoned by several important orchestras. He played with Antonio Rodio, Osmar Maderna, in 1944 in the short-lived orchestra fronted by Orlando Goñi, Osvaldo Pugliese, Mariano Mores and, later, with Alfredo Gobbi.

He was member of the orchestra that accompanied the young Roberto Rufino and, finally, he closed his career in Buenos Aires by appearing with Enrique Alessio.

He returned to Bahía Blanca in 1946 and put together his own orchestra and, later, a quartet. And he kept both groups at the same time. One of his vocalists was Alberto Randal, later known in Buenos Aires as Roberto Achával.

For several years he appeared fronting his orchestra on Wednesdays at 19:05 and on Sundays at 11:30 on LU3 Radio Splendid of Bahía Blanca. He also appeared on LU2 Radio Bahía Blanca, was orchestra leader at the cabaret El Tronío, on Soler Street and at the Universidad Nacional del Sur in 1964.

The singers that appeared in his orchestra, besides the above Achával, were Carlos Del Mar, among others.

Among the numbers he composed there are four tangos to be highlighted: “Tu capricho”, “Qué importa nuestro amor”, “Trasnochada”, “Don Saturnino” (Ciriaco Medina). Also “Cuadro otoñal”, “A los bahienses” and “Milonga carioca”, the three with Ricardo Alday. He recorded the tangos “Arrabal” and “Gloria”.

The renowned historian Luis Adolfo Sierra used to say about Palito Bonnat: «An excellent bandoneonist of the forties. I was his friend, I came to know him when he was member of the famous bandoneon section of the orchestra headed by the violinist Rodio, along with Antonio Ríos, Tití Rossi, Eduardo Rovira and Roberto Di Filippo. Bonnat was, simply, a serious and responsible artist, a bandoneon player of the purest Decarean school, a man who contributed to tango with the best he had».

Relatives, journalists, musicians, singers, friends, spectators and other people who were in touch with him, regarded him as an excellent person, an honest guy, an exceptional man.

He was always well dressed, with good suits. When he renewed his wardrobe he gave away his previous clothes to those who may need them. It happened, then, that someone who wore a suit that had belonged to Luis told everybody about it with pride.

The pianist and composer Lucio Passarelli dedicated to him the piece “Al amigo ausente” and the bandoneon player Hugo Marozzi with Sadoc Lameiro wrote those lines that say: «Bonnat desde el cielo nos mira / llevando una estrella como bandoneón» (Bonnat from Heaven looks at us and carries a star as if it were a bandoneon (“Bahía Blanca antigua”).

Luis Adolfo Bonnat had three children (a boy, deceased, who was surveyor), and two girls who left Bahía Blanca. Leonor Carpineti, his wife, passed away too.

As a conclusion, I shall tell you a story that a seasoned nurse of the Municipal Hospital of Bahía Blanca told me. When Bonnat was very ill and had been taken to that hospital, one early morning Aníbal Troilo dropped by and asked about Bonnat so she led him to the room. The two bandoneonists talked for a long time in front of her. When Troilo was leaving he left a large sum of money in the drawer of the bedside table and, holding her arm, he whispered to the nurse: «This is so that you take good care of my friend».