Abel Palermo

ith the name Oscar Antonio Moretta, the one who would be the great singer Oscar Larroca was born in the neighborhood of Almagro. He was son of Nicolás Moretta and Elsa Bugarelli.

His father, a guitar strummer and gauchesque singer, that stood out in the coteries of the period, would encourage his son Oscar’s vocation.

Since early age a guitar was his companion. His parents enrolled him at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música. He graduated as guitar teacher. When he was already a teenager he started his singing studies.

He appeared in his early stints as singer accompanying himself on guitar. His good voice and his taste in singing made that he frequently was showcased in the school parties at the end of the annual courses.

In the early 40s he appeared at the important daily show on Radio Mitre, the famous Matinée de Juan Manuel. Those who wanted to start a career in popular music regarded that program as an almost unavoidable beginning. Many important figures performed on that program. Larroca had a three-year tenure accompanied by the guitar players Pascual Avena, Enrique Maciel (Jr.) and Demasi. With it he achieved technical proficiency and stage experience.

In the early 1945, the journalist and producer Carmelo Santiago was amazed when heard him singing. Because of that, when he knew that Domingo Federico was looking for a vocalist to team-up with the already consecrated Carlos Vidal in his aggregation, he invited the maestro to listen to him. He soon made his debut on Radio Splendid, and on June 19 that year he recorded in duo with Vidal the tango “Pasaje de mi vida”. Later as well in duo, the milonga “Zapatos” and “Tango del querer”. On October 22 he recorded as solo vocalist the tango “Voz de barrio”.

His tenure with Federico lasted until September 1948. He committed to record unforgettable numbers like Garza’s and Bahr’s tango “Un tal Medina”, and Carlos Waiss’s, “Te espero en Rodríguez Peña”. His last recording was Francisco and Domingo Federico’s tango “Para usted amigo” on September 30. With this orchestra he appeared on many stints at different clubs, theaters and as well at the movies, on the film “Otra cosa”, in which he appeared alongside Carlos Vidal accompanied by guitars.

In the late 48 he was summoned by the great pianist Osvaldo Manzi, with whom he teamed-up to put together a big orchestra. He was the vocalist alongside the consecrated Roberto Ray. Their debut was a boom on Radio Belgrano, later they performed at tearooms and dance halls. But the orchestra disbanded in the late 1949.

Larroca soon joined the Roberto Caló’s orchestra; with it he recorded the tangos “El metejón” and "Che bandoneón" for Orfeo.

In 1951, an event that allowed Oscar’s development and his definitive consecration took place.

No less than one of the idols of the time, the vocalist Julio Martel, who with Carlos Dante had teamed-up the most successful duo of the 40s, split with the Alfredo De Angelis Orchestra. The violinist Víctor Braña, attracted by the color of his baritone-like voice, his good intonation and his diction, plus his good-looking appearance, introduced him to De Angelis who hired him immediately.

Oscar quickly adapted himself to the style of the orchestra. A good blending with Dante takes place and so a harmonious duo with good intonation is born.

They made their debut on Radio El Mundo at the tango program with the greatest audience, Glostora tango club, on April 1, 1951.

On May 10 that same year he cut his first three recordings with the orchestra: “Porque me das dique”, “Flor de fango” and “Llevátelo todo”, imposing a new style and repertory totally different to Julio Martel’s. In a short time he was recognized by the public who admired the so-called orchestra of the youth, as the De Angelis Orchestra was known.

On October 23, he recorded a tango dedicated to his beloved neighborhood where he was born, “Almagro” written by Vicente San Lorenzo. It was a boom. This number will be in his songbook during his entire career. Later will come hits like “Medallita de la suerte”, “Zorro gris” and subsequently the tango that will open for him all the doors of Latin America: “Volvamos a empezar”.

In 1957, after thirteen years, Carlos Dante quit the orchestra and in the mid- 1958 Larroca quit it too. Soon both teamed up as Dante-Larroca y su agrupación. They made their debut at La Querencia of Avenida de Mayo, later at Tango Bar, at La Armonía and at the remembered Maipú Pigall on 340 Maipú Street. Furthermore they made tours throughout the country, Chile and Uruguay.

Hired by the Voxor label they recorded the waltz “Mi rosa Margarita” as a duo in July 1959. Soon later both were requested separately by show-business agents of different countries of America. These gentlemen friendly disbanded their outfit and split with each other to follow their individual careers separately.

Larroca was invited to Medellín to appear at the 25th commemoration of Carlos Gardel's death, the top idol for the Colombian people. He made his opening appearance on Radio Antioquía of the Caracol network accompanied by an orchestra conducted by an Argentine maestro based in Colombia, don Joaquín Mora. At each performance of Larroca the auditorium of the radio station was overcrowded by an enthusiastic public and many people were unable to enter the radio studio.

Later he went to Chile, appearing on Radio Minería, at dancehalls and tearooms.

On his comeback to our country, the policy imposed by the recording companies on the airplay of foreign rhythms and the proliferation of television programs like El Club del Clan pushed tango to a difficult situation. New stars such as: Palito Ortega, Leo Dan, Johny Tedesco, Jolly Land, etc. invaded the programs on television, radios, clubs and recording companies, producing an heavy impact on the labor sources for the tango artists.

For this reason, Oscar Larroca took advantage of the airing of his records in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile and Peru. Then he went to those countries which gave him hospitality, work and success. He recorded a long-playing record for the Sonolux label of Colombia, accompanied by the orchestra led by the bandoneonist Juan Carlos Bera.

From time to time he returned to Buenos Aires, appeared at the few tango locals that still survived and on television as well at the programs El tango del millón, Sábados circulares and Grandes valores del tango.

Called by the Magenta label he recorded with the accompaniment of the Miguel Nijensohn's quartet. In 1975 he recorded for the recording company Alfa his last LP with the orchestra led by Jorge Dragone. It was released in Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and Peru.

As composer he released several numbers: “Juana milonga, señora”, “No me dejes corazón” and the waltz “Engañándonos”, which was recorded by different Latin American singers. It was a great hit by Bienvenido Cárdenas.

While in activity and still in full command of his vocal capabilities, with pending contracts, he died in the winter of 1976 when he was 54.

His son Oscar continues with his father's task. As well a singer, he kept burning the flame of tango bequeathed by his father and he use to do it quite well.