Ricardo Malerba

Real name: Malerba, Ricardo Francisco
Nicknames: Luz Demar
Bandoneonist, leader and composer
(24 August 1905 - 29 June 1974)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Néstor Pinsón

e was lucky to live, in his beginnings, in the tango ambience of the late twenties, to travel to Europe and take part of a bohemia that shaped him artistically. His orchestra was known either for the quality of its sound or the swinging attributes of its rhythm.

He started gigging with a group lined-up with his brothers, the bandoneon was played by Ricardo, on piano was Alfredo and on violin, Carlos. Their stints were at cinema theaters in the local neighborhoods. They earned one peso a day.

Later, in 1927, along with his brothers he joined the orchestra that Cátulo Castillo put together to go to Europe. Miguel Caló and Roberto Maida were as well members of it. They stayed in Spain for a long period and gigged in numerous cities. There they recorded several records for the Odeon label. The tour ended in 1930, but the Malerba brothers stayed in Europe.

In 1931 his brother Carlos got ill while working in Portugal, he was taken to Bilbao where he died. Ricardo had a gig for a season in France with the orchestra led by Juan Bautista Deambroggio (Bachicha). His brother Alfredo, already in Buenos Aires, accompanied the female singer Libertad Lamarque, with whom he would marry later.

On his comeback to Argentina he put together an orchestra with the pianist Nicolás Vaccaro, which had Francisco Fiorentino on vocals. They appeared at the famous Tabarís Cabaret and on La Voz del Aire radio station.

By means of the connections of his sister-in-law, Libertad Lamarque, he signed a contract to play on Radio Belgrano, on condition of playing a rhythmical tango in a D'Arienzo-like style. He debuted with his own orchestra on March 1, 1938 and stayed at that radio station for over twenty years.

Gradually he was gaining the people's recognition, slower than Juan D'Arienzo's, much liked by dancers and easy listening. The arrangements were written by the pianist, who besides was the husband of her sister-in-law, Dante Smurra.

The orchestra was lined-up as follows: Dante Smurra (piano); Atilio Cresta, Ricardo Pedevilla, Rodolfo Carlomagno and Benito Calver (bandoneons); Alfredo Lattero, Ernesto Gianni, Francisco Sanmartino and José López (violins); Francisco De Vivo (double bass).

The vocalist most deeply identified with the orchestra was Orlando Medina. His other vocalists were: Jorge Rico, Antonio Maida, Carlos Barrios, Alberto Tagle, Alberto Sánchez, Roberto del Solar, Carlos Bernal and Tucho Pavón.

He cut thirty-eight numbers for the Odeon label, thirty —between 1941 and 1945— and the last eight —between March 1956 and January 1957—. Later he switched to the Music Hall label. For them he recorded five pieces in 1957.

The standouts of the first stage are: “Gitana rusa”, “Remembranza” and “Magdalena”, with Orlando Medina on vocals, and “Medianoche” and “Una copa más”, with the singer Antonio Maida.

Ricardo Malerba and his orchestra appeared on the movie La vida de Carlos Gardel, in which Hugo del Carril and Delia Garcés were starred performing the tango piece “Noches de Montmartre”. As well he appeared on the film Cita en la frontera with Libertad Lamarque. He accompanied the female singer in all her renditions at that motion picture.

In 1952 they traveled to Porto Alegre where they appeared at the most luxurious hotels and on the regional network of radio and television. Later they made a long tour of Brazil.

Among his compositions these stand out: “Aristocracia”, “Cuando florezcan las rosas”, “Mariana” (waltzes), “Violín”, “La piba de los jazmines”, “Embrujamiento”, “Taruchito” (tangos).