Tito Francia

Real name: Francia, Fioravante
Guitarist and composer
(1 March 1926 - 30 December 2004)
Place of birth:
Mendoza Argentina
Nicolás Sosa Baccarelli

e may start by saying that he was all about the guitar, the sacred name, the blue fingerboard. We may begin by frugally uttering his name or, even better, freeing into the air his nickname crowned by hugs in the gleaming night of Cuyo which made him be born and always return (because he always returned). We may go over his path of amazed musician, of a player perplexed before the entire music, and fairly recall all the history, all the towns that dwelled on his strings, the bearing of his name, the dimension of his guitar. We may do all this, as a way of beginning. It’s because in Tito Francia so much is summarized…

He was born and grew up among musicians, in Mendoza. At age nine he teamed up with his brother as a duet and began to appear on the radio stations in Mendoza: his main school and home.

His musical instruction continued with other teachers: Higinio Otero, José Plá, Enrique Trensal, Pedro Alcaraz y Núñez, Enrique Gelusini, the Conservatorio Gutiérrez del Barrio and, later, with his friend Juan Carlos Sedero. In Buenos Aires he attended the Conservatorio Nacional but he was unable to finish his studies there because he had to come back to his province.

In Mendoza, at age 17, he joined the staff of musicians of Radio Splendid. Later he switched to Radio Aconcagua as soon as it opened. Here he began to work with those who would become soon thereafter his friends and road partners: the guitarists Santiago Bértiz, Martín Ochoa, Pedro Gullo and Ángel Honorato.

His next leap was when he was summoned by Antonio Tormo. So he began to tour throughout the country and to appear in Buenos Aires on radio stations with wide audiences such as Radio El Mundo and Radio Belgrano.

By that time Francia played in a jazz group and with the Trovadores de Cuyo led by Hilario Cuadros. In the 60s he made a tour that would lead him to the United States, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei, Bangkok, Puerto Rico, Canada, among other destinations.

Tito Francia represents a captivating figure in music, a bond between two territories generally split: popular music and academic music.

His solid training, his knowledge of different and complex musical languages, his proficiency in harmony, music reading and writing, arranging and orchestration kept him far from the archetype of popular musician of his time.

Furthermore, his long career in the radio world in which he accompanied vocalists of the most varied styles and textures and his attachment to the land where he was born kept him connected to those genres in which he soon stood out: folk music and tango. In the latter he stood out as instrumentalist, arranger and composer.

He accompanied renowned figures, among them, we remember the following: Alberto Marino, Roberto Rufino, Roberto Goyeneche, Oscar Alonso, Ángel Vargas, Tita Merello, Jorge Vidal, Jorge Sobral, Rosanna Falasca, Nelly Vázquez and Edmundo Rivero. With the latter he traveled to the United States as part of a delegation of artists which also included Astor Piazzolla.

Among the uncountable music groups that Tito joined and led, we recall the famous duet he formed along with the bandoneon player Andrés «Polaco» Krisac. A testimony of the affection that Francia had for Krisac is the tango that he composed to pay him homage and which was included in his disc Polifacético.

His name is closely linked to the emergence and development of the Nuevo Cancionero Cuyano, that aesthetic project that began by 1963 in Mendoza, which succeeded in opening a new perspective in the history of our popular music and provided an impulse for a renewal of the Latin American song. Francia’s contribution to this movement was fundamental: he was the one who brought to the group diverse musical traditions, with fresh melodies, with unheard harmonies.

In 1973, along with Santiago Bértiz, he released a gift for our ears: “Fiesta para cuerdas” (Holiday for Strings): Bach, Paganini, Rimski Korsakov, Chopin, Piazzolla, Emilio Balcarce and numbers composed by Francia himself were included in this recorded gem. Few genres were alien to him: tangos, songs, cuecas, zambas, boleros, ballads, waltzes, Brazilian music, foxtrots, tonadas, litoraleñas, vidalas, milongas.

In June 1974 he was admitted as associate guitar tutor in the Music School of the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo and kept that position until 1986.

Among his most well-known pieces we recall: “Zamba azul”, “Regreso a la tonada”, “Zamba de los adioses”, the “Suite Ruralia”, “Sinfonía Hiroshima”, “Sonata para piano”, just to mention a few of a long list in which unpublished compositions and not premiered works abound, with over 70 classical pieces and 94 popular numbers. There is a total of 164 compositions among which there are 23 tangos.

On December 30, 2004 Tito Francia passed away. Leaning on the profound lull of the guitar fingerboard, all the music wept over six sounding tracks, on his good guitar which no longer is his but now belongs to everybody.