Néstor Pinsón

e was one of those few artists who made us wonder what mystery, what magic produced such a rapport with people. As a bandoneon player, he was neither a stylist like Pedro Maffia, nor a virtuoso like Carlos Marcucci, nor a multiple creator like Pedro Laurenz, nor a phrasing player like Ciriaco Ortiz. But he had something of them all and he was, precisely, a master of personality and feeling in his expression. As an orchestra leader, he dug an undoubtedly tango style, balanced, without histrionisms and of undeniable taste. He knew how to choose the best players according to his musical ideas, he selected good singers, who beside him achieved their best, to such an extent that when they left the orchestra, only partially and for a short time could they reach a similar level. He also knew how to choose a repertory without having to accept the conditions suggested by the recording companies. Finally, he was an inspired composer, creator of pieces made to last forever, as also his renditions of somebody else's works which became masterpieces of all times.

It is said that he had something from Pedro Maffia, but if someone has clearly influenced his way of playing, in the way to develop a conversation on the bandoneon, in his touching capacity when delaying notes in his phrasing, this one has been Ciriaco Ortiz. He played slightly bent forward, with eyes closed, his double chin hanging. Some time later he remarked: «Is is said that I am very often moved and that I cry. Yes, it is true. But I never do these things for trivial reasons».

He was spellbound by the bandoneon when he heard its sound at cafés in his neighborhood. He was ten when he persuaded his mother into buying one for him. They got it at 140 pesos of that time, to be paid in 14 stallments, but after the fourth payment, the shopkeeper died and no one ever claimed for the rest. With that instrument he played almost during his whole lifetime. His first encounter with an audience was when he was eleven, on a stage near El Abasto, a noisy market of fruit and vegetables, today transformed into a shopping-center. He later was included in a ladies' orchestra, and at fourteen he had the idea of forming a quintet. In December 1930 he was member of the renowned sextet led by the violinist Elvino Vardaro and the pianist Osvaldo Pugliese, where Pichuco had Ciriaco Ortiz as partner for the first time. The second violin of the group was Alfredo Gobbi, later a well-known orchestra leader. No recorded evidence of that mythical sextet has resulted.

In 1931 Troilo had a brief spell with Juan Maglio (Pacho) orchestra. Half way through that year he met Ortiz again in Los Provincianos orchestra, one of the various formed by the label Victor especially for recording. Later he was incorporated in a big orchestra assembled by the violinist Julio De Caro, to participate in a contest at the Luna Park (an indoors stadium for boxing and other shows). He then performed for a short time in Juan D'Arienzo, Ángel D'Agostino, Luis Petrucelli orchestras and Típica Victor, led then by another famous bandoneonist, Federico Scorticati.

Troilo was member of Cuarteto del 900, with the accordeonist Feliciano Brunelli, Elvino Vardaro and the flutist Enrique Bour. Later he entered the big orchestra led by the pianist Juan Carlos Cobián for the carnival season in 1937, his last experience before putting together his own orchestra. This happened in that year on July 1st at Marabú night club, where a notice announced: «Today debut: Aníbal Troilo and his orchestra». And another advertised: «Everybody to Marabú / the night club of highest level / where Pichuco and his orchestra / will make you dance nice tangos».

That year he is introduced to Ida Calachi, a girl of Greek origin working at a night local. He married her the following year when he also recorded for the first time as leader. This happened for the Odeon label on March 7, 1938 with the tangos “Comme il faut”, by Eduardo Arolas, and “Tinta verde”, by Agustín Bardi. However, due to conflicts with the company he did not record again until 1941 when he recorded for Victor once more. He did it on March 4 with his emblematic singer, Francisco Fiorentino, popularly known as Fiore. Troilo's orchestra recorded until June 24, 1971 when he recorded the last of his 449 renditions. To these we have to add the unforgettable pieces achieved by Pichuco with the guitarist Roberto Grela, with the collaboration of Edmundo Zaldívar on guitarrón (a slightly larger guitar tuned a fourth below the normal guitar range) and Enrique Kicho Díaz on contrabass. This memorable quartet recorded 12 pieces in the period June 1955-September 1956. In 1962 they reunited to commit to record ten more tunes, though this time Troilo-Grela's sidemen were Roberto Lainez on guitar, Ernesto Báez on guitarrón and Eugenio Pro on contrabass.

In 1968 he formed the Cuarteto Aníbal Troilo to record for Victor 11 tangos and one milonga. He was accompanied by Ubaldo De Lío (guitar), Rafael del Bagno (contrabass) and Osvaldo Berlingieri (piano). If we add two bandoneon duets with Astor Piazzolla in 1970, when they recorded Cobián's “El motivo” and Carlos Gardel's “Volver”, we then have a total of 485 recordings released, even though it is presumed that there are several takes which were never released.

Singers of the utmost importance were members of his orchestra, such as Francisco Fiorentino, Alberto Marino, Floreal Ruiz, Edmundo Rivero, Jorge Casal, Raúl Berón, Roberto Rufino, Ángel Cárdenas, Elba Berón, Tito Reyes, Nelly Vázquez and Roberto Goyeneche. His pianists systematically turned into orchestra leaders: so happened with Orlando Goñi, José Basso, Carlos Figari, Osvaldo Manzi, Osvaldo Berlingieri and José Colángelo.

As composer, Troilo contributed an extensive number of major works. Some of his most outstanding titles are: “Toda mi vida”, “Barrio de tango”, “Pa' que bailen los muchachos”, “Garúa”, “María”, “Sur”, “Romance de barrio”, “Che bandoneón”, “Discepolín”, “Responso”, “Patio mío”, “Una canción”, “La cantina”, “Desencuentro” and “La última curda”.

He was a mythical character of Buenos Aires, who, as the poet Adrián Desiderato said: «It was on an eighteenth day of May when the bandoneon happened to let Pichuco fall from its hands».