Ricardo Tanturi

Real name: Tanturi, Ricardo
Nicknames: El caballero del tango
Pianist, leader and composer
(27 January 1905 - 24 January 1973)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Julio Nudler

hough he never stood out for his musical skills, Tanturi led -for several decades- a renown orchestra which owed its success basically to the strong appeal of some of its singers. For this reason, the instrumental pieces played by his mediocre orchestra are few and little recalled. However, his fame would persist along time and in the last years with the success of tango dancing, Tanturi recordings are perhaps the favorite. Moreover, some of his recordings have become classics.

Of Italian parents, Ricardo Tanturi was born in Buenos Aires, at Barracas neighborhood, one of the poorest and most vital areas in the city surrounded by the now foul-smelling Riachuelo (small river) where boats and barges used to sail. He studied his first instrument -the violin- with Francisco Alessio, uncle of the famous bandoneon player and director Enrique Alessio. His brother Antonio Tanturi, pianist and co-director of the Orquesta Típica Tanturi-Petrone, convinced him to give up the violin and take piano lessons with him.

In 1924 Ricardo started his artistic career, playing the piano at clubs, charity festivals, and jointly with his brother, at LOY Radio Nacional (then called Belgrano); none of this prevented him from studying Medicine and graduating with very good marks. At the university he organized student bands. There he met the actor Juan Carlos Thorry who would then be his first singer, and many of the musicians who would join his orchestra.

In 1933 he formed a sextet to perform at cinemas and theaters. He named it "Los Indios" after a polo team. That would be the name of all his subsequent groups. His opening tango at all his performances was the so called "Los indios" composed by Francisco Canaro but as curious as it may be, he never recorded it.

The turn for records came in 1937 with an unforgettable piece recorded for Odeón, containing the instrumental version of "Tierrita" tango by Agustín Bardi, and "A la luz del candil", with music written by the talented Carlos Vicente Geroni Flores, cruel lyrics by Julio Navarrine, and sang by Carlos Ortega. But Tanturi's great success would come in 1939 when he incorporated Alberto Castillo, a great attraction for the public. Castillo, with his perfect tune, master ability in the use of pitches and mezza voce, seduced the audience in many possible ways: with his exaggerated gestures, his masculine elegance and neat hair style, his gynecologist degree (obtained in 1942) and that sometimes intimate sometimes lively mood, all of which made a show of each and every tango.

In all the 37 songs recorded by Castillo before leaving Tanturi in 1943, the orchestra let him play the leading role as it also did with the singer chosen to replace him, the Uruguayan Enrique Campos. The same as Castillo, Campos was concerned in communicating with the public, making no attempts to display his vocal skills. He sang in an indifferent, unexcited, simple fashion. Behind him, the orchestra sounded self-confident, precise and discreet, with a plain perfection. All this turned the 51 songs recorded by Tanturi-Campos into one of the treasuries of the genre.

The orchestra would not experience that splendor again, though it gained reputation with Osvaldo Ribó as from 1946. By that time, Roberto Videla and then Juan Carlos Godoy and Elsa Rivas, among other, managed to occasionally revive Tanturi's popularity. Tanturi composed the tangos "Amigos presente", "A otra cosa che pebeta" and "Pocas palabras" with lyrics written by Enrique Cadícamo; "Sollozo de bandoneón", with Enrique Dizeo, and "Ese sos vos", with Francisco García Jiménez, among other.