Horacio Loriente

inotto was a great technician of the bandoneon and an eternal studious player of his instrument. For many years associated —with some breaks— to the Francisco Canaro’s orchestra to which he always contributed with his playing to the disciplines of its leader, he was a solo player, for his close friends, of melodic themes performed with high sound quality and a perfect fingering.

He was at the same level of the greats of his time. Buenos Aires always dreamed of a trio of the M’s, uniting Minotto with Maffia and Marcucci. But it was only a dream.

Héctor Artola, who admired him much, used to say that he was a responsible musician. He took his time to study new pieces but when later he had to play them with Canaro’s orchestra, they evidenced a perfection of sound and their notes were quite clean.

Minotto Di Cicco was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. He had two brothers musicians: Ernesto, a bandoneon player like him and Fioravanti, a pianist, who succeeded in Europe. At age twelve he started his studies of piano playing and music reading. He changed the piano for the accordion, an instrument that interested him very much. Three years later, with an instrument with semitones he made his professional debut with Carlos Warren (piano) and Ataliva Galup (violin) at the Café Petit Salón (low Moulin area).

He traveled to Buenos Aires and bought a bandoneon. His teacher was Alberto Rodríguez. The latter was member for many years of the Osvaldo Fresedo Orchestra and, previously, leader of his own group.

In 1915, already a bandoneonist, Minotto formed a trio with Alberto Alonso (piano) and Luciano Aturaola (violin) at the Bar Trianón (Andes between San José and Soriano). Later Federico Lafemina was added on violin and they gigged at the Café Nuevo (18 and Ejido) to great success.

In the summer of 1917 the small outfit had different violin players. Then we had Juan José Castellanos and Juan Trócoli.

In May 1917, now under the name Orquesta Alonso-Minotto, , sponsored by Dellazoppa and Morixe, agents of Victor in Montevideo, they traveled to Buenos Aires to record discs. They cut eighteen numbers, among them was “La cumparsita” and the only tango signed by Minotto titled “Marquezito”. The professionalism of this great musician was always focused on his proficiency as performer, putting aside composition.

On their comeback to Montevideo, Minotto, Warren and Lafemina appeared at the Moulin Rouge. It is then when Francisco Canaro called him from Buenos Aires to fill the vacant seat left by Osvaldo Fresedo. Then, Minotto joined the giant orchestra Firpo-Canaro that appeared in Rosario at the carnival balls in 1918.

He returned to Montevideo in the late 1921 and put together his own aggregation with the following line-up: Fioravanti Di Cicco (piano, replaced later by Francisco De Caro); Minotto, Ernesto Di Cicco and Eustaquio Laurenz (bandoneons); Horacio Zito and Juan Trócoli (violins), Julio De Caro joined them later.

The Victor company, especially, installed in 1922 its recording machines in Montevideo to record the repertoire of the renowned Orquesta Minotto. Its charts were mainly maxixas and pasodobles and only three tangos were committed to record: Enrique Delfino’s “Fruta prohibida”, Emilio Ferrer’s “Pura espuma” and Pascual Mazzeo’s “Picaflor”. That year the orchestra performed in the important venues of Montevideo.

He settled in Buenos Aires, and began his activities heading a group at the Select Buen Orden cinema theater, he then switched to the Select Suipacha, and later at the Bar Richmond on Florida Street. On this occasion Julio De Caro was again the lead violin in the orchestra for six months.

Minotto made a stop and in 1923 he left the orchestra and came back to the ranks of Francisco Canaro. He replaced Anselmo Aieta, teaming up with Juan Canaro. By then he traveled to Europe on his own and when he came back —in January 1924— he played a concert as soloist of bandoneon on Radio Paradizábal of Montevideo.

Between 1923 and 1926, besides recording in the Canaro's orchestra, he recorded for Odeon ten numbers, from which we highlight the tangos “Camarada”, “Padre nuestro”, “Ave María”, “Buenos Aires”, “A media luz” and “Noches de Colón”. There is also an unpublished take of “Milonga con variación”.

In the late 1927, Minotto split with Canaro once again to form his orchestra again. He made his debut at the carnival balls of Armenonville, with José Tinelli (piano); Baralis and Buglione (violins); Minotto, Gabriel Clausi and Francisco Fiorentino (bandoneons). Buglione and Fiorentino used to sing the refrains (estribillos). This group had changes in personnel. El Anuario Teatral Argentino mentions the following musicians: Juan Trombino (piano); Minotto, Ángel Ramos and Ernesto Bianchi (bandoneons); Mario Brugni and Carlos Spaggieri (violins) and Hugo Baralis (double bass).

The following year, Minotto put together a 35-piece orchestra to play at the carnival balls of the Teatro Broadway on Corrientes Street.

In 1930, he joined a trio, and made an excellent cycle on LR3 Radio Nacional, with Cayetano Puglisi and José Tinelli.

He was hired by the Columbia Viva Tonal. That extraordinary staff in which Minotto only conducted, had, among others, José Tinelli (piano); Federico Scorticati, Ernesto Di Cicco and Gabriel Clausi (bandoneons); Mario Brugni, Antonio Rodio and Antonio Buglione (violins); on double bass, Luis Bernstein. Refrain vocalist was Antonio Buglione, replaced in the final recordings by Jorge Omar. This was his last work as leader.

Minotto began a new stage associated to Francisco Canaro in 1932, in full bloom of the theater season of the successful play La Muchachada del Centro. He went on with this until his retirement. At this stage he joined the Quinteto Pirincho and appeared to great advantage in several movies.

Popular music is in debt with Minotto. He passed away in Montevideo on September 9, 1979. There in his latter days he relied on the love and the affection of his sisters, other relatives and some friends.

Nearly fifty years of honest work in the service of tango by a great artist, a very important bandoneon player, deserve the constant memory and the adequate diffusion of his talent. About his importance, the opinion of maestro Julio De Caro says it all. Whenever the latter tried to put together a large group, already in the 60s, he had a first idea: to count on Minotto, a lifetime friend he always admired.

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.