Abel Palermo

e was born in the city of Mar del Plata, Province of Buenos Aires, (according to Oscar Zucchi, he was born in Buenos Aires city). His parents were Vicente Pansera and Elisa Carmen Petraso. He married María Cristina Carlesi, and had a son that he named Aníbal after his admired Aníbal Troilo.

He was four years old when his family settled in the neighborhood of Constitución, in Buenos Aires. He began to play bandoneon by ear, until his father sent him to study with maestro Domingo Federico who, in 1945, connected with Juan Carlos Cobián. The composer of “Mi refugio” included the boy bandoneonist in his aggregation. The year before he had made his debut in the sextet led by Cristóbal Herreros, alongside the then teenager José Libertella, with the formal authorization of his father.

Soon thereafter he joined the Francini-Pontier Orchestra, in the bandoneon section alongside Armando Pontier himself, Ángel Domínguez and Nicolás Paracino.

By that time he acquainted Astor Piazzolla, who encouraged him to study harmony and connected him with maestro Alberto Ginastera. With the latter he would learn all the secrets of music, especially the elements of harmony and composition as well as the study of piano playing.

Furthermore, his teacher got for him a scholarship to further his studies at the Santa Cecilia Institute of Italy. On his comeback he joined the orchestra led by the pianist Lalo Scalise, to play at a seaside resort in Punta del Este (Uruguay).

In 1950 Scalise switched to the Osvaldo Fresedo Orchestra and took Pansera with him. A few months after he had joined the aggregation, Roberto became the arranger of the new charts of the orchestra. His avant-garde ideas contributed to one of the most outstanding cycles of Fresedo for the Odeon label and, later, for Columbia. In that decade, the leader included compositions by Piazzolla in the orchestra repertoire and renewed some of his classics. It is also important to highlight the contribution of the great musician Roberto Pérez Prechi, whom Pansera had already known during his tenure in the sextet headed by Herreros.

In 1954 he composed the music for the motion picture Se necesita un hombre con cara de infeliz, directed by Homero Cárpena. The following year he was summoned by Piazzolla to join the Octeto Buenos Aires. In the first line-up were Astor and Pansera on bandoneons, Enrique Francini and Hugo Baralis on violins, José Bragato on violoncello, Horacio Malvicino on electric guitar, Atilio Stampone on piano and Juan Vasallo on double bass.

In 1956 he split with the octet, and was replaced by Leopoldo Federico. Then he came back to Fresedo to appear nightly at the boite Rendez-Vous, owned by the orchestra leader.

One evening a historical event for the music of Buenos Aires took place when, all of a sudden, one of the greatest trumpeters of the world, the North American Dizzy Gillespie turned up at the night club. Invited to jump onstage, the man not only was part of the show but also he put up a little concerto, improvising with his trumpet on the numbers that the orchestra played. He was featured in “Vida mía”, “Adiós muchachos”, “Capricho de amor”, composed by Pérez Precchi, and Pansera's “Preludio N°3”. At the end of the show Gillespie, very interested in Pansera's piece, invited the latter to travel to the United States.

Consequently, by the end of that year, Roberto went to the North American country. He settled there and made several tours of different countries along the Pacific coast. During his stay he became friends with the actor Jerry Lewis and released a record with compositions of his own and others written by known composers. The album was entitled Pansera 3.

When he returned he put together his own outfit with Gloria Wilson on vocals. The ensemble included non-conventional instruments.

As from 1964, he led the orchestra that backed Néstor Fabián in his appearances and recordings. Thereafter he composed with Fresedo and Roberto Lambertucci the twelve numbers of the record Los 10 mandamientos (The Ten Commandments).

In 1969 he recorded, with Roberto Florio, “Barriada de tango”; also with Carlos Dante, “Yo pecador”, for the Alanicky label. As well he accompanied Reynaldo Martín, Roberto Goyeneche and the folk singer Mercedes Sosa on their recording sessions.

In 1970 he joined the José Basso's orchestra for a long tour of Japan. The other members were: Oscar Rodríguez, José Fernández, Armando Husso and José Singlia (violins); Juan Carlos Bera, Eduardo Corti and Lisandro Adrover (bandoneons); Francisco de Lorenzo (bass) and the vocalists Alfredo Belusi and Carlos Rossi. Later they went to Venezuela, where they stayed for a long time. On his return to Argentina, he joined the orchestra led by Mariano Mores.

In 1982 he was elected president of the Sociedad Argentina de Autores y Compositores (Argentine Society of Authors and Composers), in which he carried out an important task due to his connections with different associations in the world. This allowed the opening of many markets for our composers.

In 1984 the University of Yale awarded his Concerto for wind instruments as the best Latin American piece.

In 1985 he composed together with Domingo Federico, on texts by Miguel Jubany, the opera-tango about Eva Perón entitled Evita. Volveré y seré millones (Evita. I'll come back and shall be millions), with the singers Carlos Acuña, Antonio Tormo, Nelly Vázquez and the poet Héctor Gagliardi.

With his capabilities of creation still intact, in 2003, he formed the juvenile tango orchestra El Espejo de Aníbal Troilo modeled after Pichuco. He was its arranger and conductor.

Of his oeuvre, the following are standouts: “Miedo”, “Mi canción de ausencia”, “Preludio Nº 3”, “El pibe de La Paternal”, “Desconocida”, “Que lejos de mi Buenos Aires”, “Trenza de ocho”, “Sombra de humo” and “Naturaleza muerta”.

Finally, while he was performing at a local in the neighborhood of San Telmo, he had a heart attack from which he was unable to recover and died at the Sanatorio Güemes.

He was a man very much loved, a talented player and an avant-garde musician that played all the instruments. I was so fortunate of recording with him a simple disc in the 60s. I shared with him pleasant times and I always paid attention to his advice: «You have to look after the mystery of tango by listening to Troilo and Gardel».