Abel Palermo

s the historian Juan Carlos Legido says, to write the history of Racciatti is to write a part of the history of Uruguay and of tango in Uruguay in a period of over fifty years. I further say, not only of tango in that brotherly republic, but also in both banks of the River Plate.

His orchestra expressed a classic tango style, simple, quite rhythmical, of scarce musical value but highly popular. It had a D’Arienzo flavor and its records were a cashbox success.

He was born in Ciheti (Italy) and he started his professional career as bandoneonist on radio in 1938.

In 1940 he joined the Laurenz-Casella Orchestra and in 1945 he was invited to lead the oufit that accompanied the singer Luis Alberto Fleitas. He recorded with him on nine occasions.

With this latter experience he won experience and, in 1948, he put together his own orchestra. It is worthwhile to mention that one of his bandoneonists was the young Raúl Jaurena, present leader of the New York Tango Trio, based for a long time in that city.

He made his debut at the Hotel Nogaró of Punta del Este, an aristocratic seaside resort 100 km far from Montevideo. He as well was in the music staff of Radio Universal but soon he switched to Radio Sarandí, one of the most important radio stations of that time. His appearances were much successful and he signed for the Sondor label and recorded the tango number “¿Conocen estos compases?” by Horacio Márquez and with lyrics by Carlos Morín and on the other side of the disc, the candombe “El pregón del negrito” composed by Racciatti himself in collaboration with Enrique Liste with lyrics by Enrique Soriano.

He toured the interior of Uruguay and Brazil and like Canaro, he got involved with theater. He associated with the authors Mario Rivero and Eduardo Casanovas to produce several musical comedies on the Montevideo stages. He appeared for several seasons at the Artigas, 18 de Julio, and Palacio Peñarol theaters and, to a remarkable acclaim, at the Centenario soccer stadium with the comedy Barrio, luna y tamboril.

The most brilliant stage of his orchestra was between the years 1953 and 1960, when its female vocalists were showcased. Firstly, the best female singer of his country: Nina Miranda, later Olga Delgrossi who performed with him for seven years. Both came thereafter to Argentina to continue their career.

The list of singers that performed in his orchestra is very long. We can name, among others, besides the abovementioned Miranda and Delgrossi, Enrique Liste, Alfredo Cabral, Victor Ruiz, Marisa Cortez, Alfredo Rivera, Carlos Torres, Miguel Ángel Maidana, Elsa del Campo, Marcos Giral, the Argentinians Luis Correa, Juan Carlos Godoy, Alfredo Dalton, Néstor Real and for the finale of this portrait, the most important vocalist of the eastern bank, the great Carlos Roldán, after he had passed through the ranks of the great orchestras led by Osvaldo Fresedo, Francisco Canaro and Francisco Rotundo.

Donato Racciatti contributed to the vogue of danceable and popular tango, with great acclaim from the commercial standpoint. He was very often hired throughout Latin America and in Japan.

He appeared on the principal radio stations of Buenos Aires and on TV channels 7 and 11. He was as well hired for the venue Catedral del tango and played at the Cabaret Marabú. The latter was a local which showcased, no less than, Aníbal Troilo and Carlos Di Sarli. His tours of the interior of Argentina were uncountable, he performed in almost all the important cities of the nation.

Lastly, I want to highlight his labor as prolific composer, coherent with his musical ideas. He was a composer of simple works, with catchy melodies, well received by a massive public that danced humming their lyrics. Most of these lyrics were unimportant from the poetic point of view, with the exception of those written by that good Uruguayan poet named Federico Silva. Let us remember his tangos “Vencida”, “Morocho y cantor”, “Sin estrellas” and the hit that meant “Hasta siempre amor”, recorded by maestro Carlos Di Sarli with Horacio Casares on vocals, by Juan D'Arienzo with Jorge Valdez and by Elsa Rivas accompanied by the orchestra led by Juan José Paz, among the most widely known recordings. Other numbers of his are: “Tu corazón”, “Queriéndote”, “Limosna de amor”, with lyrics by Enrique Soriano, Carmelo Imperio and Soriano's “Murga de pibes”, and Mario Battistella's “Por la misma senda”.

He died at age eighty-one in his beloved city recognized by a people that love him because of his permanent commitment with danceable and popular music despite his artistic limitations.