Edmundo Zaldívar

Real name: Zaldívar, Edmundo Porteño
Nicknames: Chacho Espil
Guitarist and composer
(9 October 1917 - 7 February 1978)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Néstor Pinsón

is beginnings were almost at the same time when the radio started, in 1924, when on Radio Cultura he accompanied his father Edmundo Polo Zaldívar, also guitarist. When he was still a kid, he composed the zamba “Nunca, nunca”, and appeared as member of the group fronted by Juan Más Morales on Radio Nacional.

He was born in the neighborhood of Palermo in the city of Buenos Aires, within a family of musicians. In his father’s house, intellectuals and artists of the period like Ricardo Rojas, Leopoldo Lugones, painters and artists of other branches of knowledge used to meet.

Guitarist and a fundamental musician in the history of tango, he accompanied, according to his own words, all the male and female singers, with the exception of Carlos Gardel. He was staff musician on Radio El Mundo for over 20 years, where not only he played tango, but also got accustomed to work as guitarist playing all kinds of rhythms, especially Argentine and South American folk music.

In 1938 he joined the Orquesta Típica Los Indios led by Ricardo Tanturi. That same year he studied piano, music theory and harmony with maestro Pedro Rubione.

Soon thereafter, the art directors of Radio El Mundo asked him to write a music piece to be broadcasted as theme song or to be used whenever it was necessary; soon later, when traveling on a streetcar, a melody inspired in the clattering and braking of the streetcar came to his mind. He wrote down some notes on the ticket as a tickler for him. Much later he finished it, rounding it up as a piece in carnavalito beat. It turned out a number that soon was heard throughout the country and worldwide: “El humahuaqueño”. Some years later (1955), he released a record by the Pampa label with eight songs (including “El humahuaqueño”), performed by an orchestra that included oboe, bassoon, vibraphone and several vocalists.

With this piece he reached an outstanding popular acclaim, not only in Argentina and in Latin America, but also in Europe and in other places of the world. To such an extent that it was recorded nearly all around the world, including so unusual places like Egypt, China, Japan, Greece, New Zealand, Belgium, Holland, and it is also known even in far distant regions. However, he achieved his greatest hit in France with more than 200 different renderings, and in Germany with nearly a hundred, and coming later: England, Italy, the Netherlands and the United States.

After 1933 he made tours of all the provinces of our country, and also abroad, he visited around 30 countries. He appeared at conferences in Italy and France. In France he recorded and was quite successful. He invented the guitarrón (a kind of bass guitar) to improve the harmonic accompaniment for the groups with guitar and bandoneon.

He was also teacher for rhythms in the Escuela Nacional de Danzas, and he run academies throughout the country where guitar playing was taught.

Between 1954 and 1956 he joined the Troilo-Grela quartet, playing guitarrón, with Kicho Díaz on double bass. They recorded 12 pieces for the TK label.

On March 18, 1955 the movie Vida nocturna was premiered, it featured Aníbal Troilo, with Edmundo Zaldívar on guitar, playing “Palomita blanca”.

Later he teamed up with the bandoneon player Ciriaco Ortiz, and appeared with his trio and, on occasions, as a duo. On May 8, 1969 the El Viejo Almacén was opened. On that evening the duos Horacio Salgán-Ubaldo De Lío and Ciriaco Ortiz-Edmundo Zaldívar appeared.

He appeared with so many artists of the genre like: Edmundo Rivero, Charlo, José Luis Padula, Rosita Quintana, Rosita Quiroga, Manuel Acosta Villafañe, Margarita Palacios, Marta and Waldo de los Ríos, Antonio Tormo, Nelly Omar, Félix Alda, Antonio Maida, Carmen Duval, Aldo Campoamor, Lito Bayardo, Horacio Salgán, Pedro Vargas and Ortiz Tirao, just to name a few.

He played guitar, guitarrón (large guitar), requinto (melody guitar), charango (small guitar with four double strings), harp, bombo (folk bass drum), quena (Indian flute), sikus (panpipe), among many other instruments. He was a broadcaster and researcher of folk music, and appeared with Atuto Mercau Soria, Polo Giménez and Mario Arnedo Gallo; he put together the Grupo Folklórico Indoamericano with Carlos Lastra, Oscar Cacho Valles, Fernando Portal and Carlos García, the pianist who later was the leader of the Orquesta del Tango de Buenos Aires.

From his extensive oeuvre as composer, the zamba stands out as his choice rhythm, and he also dug in the folk music repertoire with carnavalitos, tonadas, criollo songs. He as well played milonga, waltz, song and tango.