Héctor Ángel Benedetti

e was born in the neighborhood of Boedo. Attracted by the bandoneon, he took lessons until 1918 with one of the performers of what was called the generation of the 10s: Julián Divasto, or Di Basto.

Already by 1920, Sureda had formed together with Antonio Arcieri (violin) and with Aquilino (piano) his first group: the Trio America. After a premiere in the London Palace cinematheater on Coronel Díaz Ave., they appeared on every available venue for over a year, until its members disbanded. It is interesting to notice that this professional beginning in a trio determined a continuous bias in the young bandoneonist: along his career he would always prefer the small groups (trios or quartets) rather than the orchestras.

Soon later, with the violinist Oscar Valpreda and the pianist Alpredi, he formed the Trío del Plata whose name derived from the cinema theater of Boedo where they played. In the latter months of 1922, the Trío del Plata was hired by the manager Federico del Ponte to perform in the recently opened Radio Cultura, a radio station that as complement of its broadcasts (oriented in general towards classical music, although there were also broadcasts of popular music) ended up publishing a magazine of free distribution.As from a ministerial regulation of November 1923, this radio station became LOX Radio Cultura; up to then, it had been the only radio that had negotiated a permit for airing. The other ones had simply been installed and had begun to broadcast.

When it became evident that the driver of the group was Sureda, the trio began to bear his name. For seven months Sureda was simultaneously the bandoneonist of the group led by Adolfo Avilés due to an event that is not completely clear. In an interview made for Radio Fénix in 1935, Sureda said that to appear on Radio Cultura they had wanted to audition him. Because of that his reaction was to join the ranks of Avilés who was on LOZ Radio Sudamérica. This had a contradiction, since not much earlier he had said that he was on Cultura since 1921 (in fact, this radio station began in December 1922). To fit both stories, it could be supposed that Sureda, still annoyed, stayed anyway from the beginning in Cultura, but playing parallelly with Avilés. This has some logic, since it is well-known that Sureda never disbanded his trio.

With Avilés he was paid a hundred pesos a month. Then, according to his own words, he worked for free for over four years with the only purpose of becoming known. This seems to be an exaggeration. In fact the trio worked regularly in cinema theaters, either as live numbers or playing background music to the projections of the movies that by that time were silent. Furthermore he was ever present on different Buenos Aires radio stations and so, by the mid- thirties, the Bates brothers in their book were able to hold that for Sureda «... there is not even a single venue where he had not played.»

However, he became really popular in his facet as composer. Since the first half of the twenties he was releasing “Adiós juventud”, “Amor de payaso”, “Amor y sacrificio” (one of his early waltzes), “A oscuras”, “A su memoria”, “Barreras de amor” (which has a beautiful rendering by Roberto Firpo’s orchestra), “Botellero” (recorded by Libertad Lamarque in 1926), “Callecita del suburbio”, “Ciudad de mis sueños”, “Decime adiós”, “Dos amores”, “Ensueño”, “Gorrión”, “Ilusión marina” (his “signature tune” along with the waltz A su memoria), “Juanillo”, “Mala suerte”, “Nido de amor”, “Nostalgias”, “Nunca”, “Nunca es tarde”, “Para la muchachada”, “Plegaria”, “Quién te ha visto y quién te ve”, “Quiero que me quieras”, “Ronda del querer”, “Te quiero mucho más”, “Valsecito de antes”, “Venga de donde venga” (ad for the analgesic Geniol), “Vincha bruja”, “Volvió la princesita”, “Yo quiero que sepas”, etc.

The regular lyricist of his compositions was his younger brother Gerónimo Sureda. This collaboration began with the waltz "Ilusión marina". Antonio, later, would accompany with his bandoneon some performances made by Gerónimo as reciter.

Two waltzes composed by Antonio with excellent lyrics by Homero Manzi deserve to be mentioned specially: "Valsecito de antes", which Acho Manzi assures he has found out that it was already written in 1922; and "A su memoria", to which Homero added lyrics by 1925 and turned out one of his biggest hits. This waltz had been used for the first time in that year; Ignacio Corsini recorded it in 1926, although again toward 1930-1931 it began to be a success thanks to Santiago Devin's versions (1931), the Orquesta Típica Brunswick with refrain sung by Teófilo Ibáñez (1931), Francisco Lomuto and his orchestra with refrain by Fernando Díaz (1931), Alberto Gómez (1931) and Francisco Canaro with refrain by Charlo (1931). He was at ease with the waltz beat, and with this time signature he was identified.

Returning to his work as player, he was summoned by the record company Nacional Odeon to cut recordings with the singer Santiago Devin. On December 17 he made his first recording: it was the waltz "A su memoria", released on the disc 7.890 side A where Sureda only accompanied with his bandoneon. But on the side B he plays. leading a quartet, the zamba "Vincha bruja". The next year (September 9, 1932) the following disc was recorded: it is the Nacional Odeon Nr. 7.891 where the singer interprets the tango "Dos amores" and the paso doble "Juanillo", with Sureda accompanying with his trio. Up to this stage, the four numbers recorded by Devin as soloist were compositions by Sureda, and was accompanied by him with one or another aggregation; but they split and from then on either the accompaniment or the repertoire of Devin will be in charge of others.

It is evident that Odeon regarded Devin and Sureda as an only item, since the next (and last) disc of Devin as soloist was with guitars, but keeping the serial number; in fact, it was released under the Nr. 7.892. But the disc played by Sureda that came after this serial, Nr. 7.893, was strictly instrumental; it dates back to 1936 and contained two numbers of his own again: "Barreras de amor" and "Dos amores".

In 1940, he appeared in Su Nombre es Mujer, a movie which starred Herminia Franco and was directed by Julio Irigoyen. It had the strange distinction of not being very well received by any critic at all.

On September 7, 1942, he recorded again in Odeon leading a tango orchestra, and cut the disc Nr. 5.500 with the milonga "Para la muchachada" and the tango "Yo te bendigo." The estribillista that appears on both recordings was not identified with certainty, but Carlos Lafuente's name was suggested. And there were not any more discs. This only recording closed the serial with Sureda and his tango orchestra.

But his activity continued. Through the ranks of the different groups he led musicians like Carlos Figari, Ángel Condercuri, Damián Ficarra and Jorge Dragone passed; and among the singers were Agustín Volpe and Alberto Tagle (with the trio) and Roberto Maida (with the orchestra, in 1942).

Antonio Sureda died in 1951. Fifteen years before, his early chroniclers said of him that «... he is among those who denote an effort to increase their artistic conditions and to renew the virtues that allowed his rise. Above the name of new figures or above the extinguished popularity of many the name of this modern king of waltz, as he was wisely called, has daily risen. His is, in sum, one of the longest fames on the radio.»