Horacio Loriente

short life, devoted to music, that started at the conservatory of his neighborhood where he studied music reading, theory and piano playing. But the 71 key-bandoneon was his professional instrument and he was one of the few privileged students that learnt with the maestro Arturo Herman Bernstein at his domicile in the neighborhood of Barracas. When he had reached a solid technical training he replaced Ricardo Brignolo in a small group led by the pianist Samuel Castriota. Since then he played uninterruptedly in many orchestras.

To be brief, we shall only name his bandoneonist partners. Juan Bautista Guido in the orchestra of Carlos Vicente Geroni Flores; Enrique Pollet, with Agesilao Ferrazzano; Pedro Maffia in a sextet led by José Martínez, in 1920, at the time he composed his first tango that he titled “A mi madre”, in which he made use of some bars of the well-known song made popular by Carlos Gardel.

Invited by Carlos Marcucci, who had been his companion when he studied with Bernstein, he teamed up with him in his outfit, playing in the neighborhood of La Boca.

In 1922, he put together his first orchestra to play at the Casino Pigall. It was lined-up by José María Rizzuti (piano), Luis Petrucelli and Pedro Maffia (bandoneons), Bernardo Germino and José Rosito (violins) and Humberto Constanzo (double bass). Around the end of that year, dismembered the orchestra, Luis Petrucelli, Juan Carlos Cobián and Tito Roccatagliatta played in a trio setting at private meetings of the Buenos Aires high class, later was added at first Eduardo Armani (violin) and Nicolás Primiani (bandoneon) and, finally, the double bass player Hugo Ricardo Baralis, a quintet that played at balls in the carnival of 1923 in the city of Rosario.

The musicians followed different roads and Juan Carlos Cobián put together an orchestra to play at the Abdullah Club, the same that recorded for Victor and which was lined up by: Juan Carlos Cobián (piano), Luis Petrucelli and Pedro Maffia (bandoneons), Agesilao Ferrazzano (first violin), Julio De Caroa (second violin) and Humberto Constanzo (double bass). By mid 1923, Cobián dismembered his orchestra, leaving for the United States.

For a short time, Luis Petrucelli put together an orchestra to remain at the Abdullah Club, with Pedro Maffia teaming with him on bandoneon, Vicente Gorrese (piano), Bernardo Germino and Fernando Franco (violins) and Humberto Constanzo (string bass). Petrucelli and Maffia played several times until they met to perform at the café “Los Andes” on Suipacha Street, under the leadership of Eduardo Pereyra.

In the late 1923, Julio and Francisco De Caroa requested Petrucelli and Maffia’s collaboration to assemble a quartet, to which the violinist José Rosito soon was added, replaced later by Emilio De Caro and the bass player Leopoldo Thompson.

From the beginning the bandoneonists demanded that the outfit would not bear the name of any of the members. A little before dismembering, Julio De Caroa succeeded in signing –in the early 1924- for a stint at the Café Colón on Avenida de Mayo and at the carnival balls, they agreed that the orchestra would bear Julio De Caroa’s name.

It is not our intention to talk about the reasons that caused Luis Petrucelli to split with that seminal group. In the Julio De Caro orchestra that was starting to make recordings, he recorded only a number as member of that orchestra that had begun its journey on the road to fame: the tango “Todo corazón”, according to what Dr. Luis A. Sierra has always pointed out.

Three events mark Petrucelli´s work in 1925. His passage through the ranks of Juan Carlos Bazán in Mar del Plata, the orchestras of José Martínez and Eduardo Pereyra. By the late 1925 the Orquesta Típica Victor began to record, for which he is responsible in the repertoire choice and head of the artistic aspects.

He traveled to the United States in 1926 to join the Francisco Canaro orchestra and, on his comeback to Buenos Aires, he is featured heading qualified musical groups. Between July 2, 1928 and January 8, 1931, as historical documents he committed to record 54 numbers of his excellent orchestra that showcase Elvino Vardaro with his charming violin.

With the natural changes of nearly three years' work, one of the personnel choices of the Luis Petrucelli orchestra was the following: Luis Petrucelli and Enrique Pollet (bandoneons), Vicente Gorrese (piano), Elvino Vardaro, Bernardo Germino and Manlio Francia (violins) and Hugo Ricardo Baralis (double bass).

On Brunswick records by the Osvaldo Fresedo's orchestra he is featured, reinforcing the section in which the leader and Juan Salvatore were instrumentalists. Until the mid -30s, he went on provinding his artistry to tango in differents settings, until March 1936, when Juan Salvatore passed away, Osvaldo Fresedo summoned him to definitively join his orchestra, last artistic stage of an exceptional musician that must be regarded as one of the best tango bandoneon players.

He did not care much for composition. However he composed the beautiful tango milonga “Negro el veinte” in his early stage and, when he was in the Fresedo orchestra in 1936, he composed “Viejo romance”, “Añoranzas” and “Es costumbre o es cariño”, permanently remembered, especially by those who recognize the undeniable quality of the composer of “Sollozos”.

Luis Petrucelli's early demise took place in his hometown on February 28, 1941.

Originally published in the book Ochenta notas de tango. Perfiles Biográficos, Ediciones de La Plaza, Montevideo 1998. Under the auspices of the Academia de Tango del Uruguay.