Walter Yonsky

Real name: Wrzacki, Isaac
(6 November 1937 - 30 April 2002)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Julio Nudler

is case is singular: like many others, he replaced his real name by a pseudonym but the latter with a flavor equally Jewish. Anyhow, the name Isaac was put aside by unanimous suggestions after he had joined La Pandilla Marilyn with that name.

As for the family name, Yonsky is close to the pronunciation of Wrzacki, and if he did not discard it too it was because when he had to decide it, in the early 60s, while he was member of a university theater cast, it had become more habitual that Jewish artists appeared with their real surnames, like Brisky or Lincovsky. However, still today he is told, even by Jews, «what fucks you is your surname». Later he realized that he could have switched from Wrzacki to Urquiza, since so many singers adopted the name of some street. But with the same face it would have been difficult to pretend being a Basque.

Isaac, later Gregorio and finally Walter was born in Buenos Aires when his parents who had arrived at the country in 1935 were already based on 439 Junín Street. Both were from Lodz, Poland.

In 1949 Walter was auditioned on Belgrano radio station performing “Rendido”, written by Alfredo Cordisco and Alberto Leiva, but he was sent to Radio Porteña. They suggested that he should sing folk music instead of tango pieces because their lyrics were more edifying, disregarding Atahualpa Yupanqui who neither was liked by the régime. By that time he was introduced plainly as Isaac.

Moisés (Moses) had an inclination to music. He played banjo, mandolin, accordion, harmonica. When he discovered his son’s good ear he induced him to sing, but later, when his singing did not produce any money, he forced him to study at the commercial school. From there he continued studying to become a Public Accountant, but he quit his studies because of theater when he joined the cast of the School of Economic Sciences itself.

After he graduated at the Instituto Superior de Enseñanza Radiofónica, in 1962 he made his debut as actor in soap operas on Belgrano radio station in the Oscar Casco’s theater company. By then he worked with Susana Rinaldi, who also appeared in soap operas on the radio.

From that genre, seriously declining by that time, Yonsky swapped to theater, strictly speaking, in which he made his professional debut in 1964 with Pedro López Lagar, impersonating Rudolph in Arthur Miller’s Panorama from the bridge. Among that cast was Alfredo Marino, in the role of the attorney narrator. Marino, author of the anthological lyric of “El ciruja”, of 1926, introduced Yonsky to the lunfardo tango codes. Being able to explain the meaning of the tangos he sings provided him a background for future recitals of music and words.

In 1972 he began his career as tango singer, accompanied by the guitarists Bartolomé Palermo, Paco Peñalba and Norberto Pereira. He together with Oscar del Priore led a program Hoy en la ciudad on Radio Municipal and another on Radio Provincia.

In 1973 he cut his first LP, including new songs, such as “Esta ciudad”, “Vieja costanera” or “Para cantarle a mi gente”. All these with lyrics by Héctor Negro. Later he staged a show named Una noche de garufa, based on excerpts of sainetes (one-act farces) at the Café Teatro Buenos Aires with the Cuarteto del Centenario led by the bandoneonist Emilio Branca. With the latter he began to sing —and record— tangos of the Guardia Vieja (old stream).

After 1975 Yonsky will exclusively commit to record music for children, and only in 1989 he released Tango, poesía y lunfardo with a trio lined up by Bebe Nevoso on bandoneon, Juan Carlos Navarro on guitar and Omar Murtagh on double bass. Later backed by the pianist Norberto Califano he will record more peaceful or lyrical numbers, in the mood of “Niebla del Riachuelo”, “Fuimos” or “Los pájaros perdidos”.

In 1990 he recorded Tango romanza. Thereafter he began with CD's, the third of them released in 1997 covers a wide spectrum which goes from his starting "Rendido" to "Masajes", written by Saúl Cosentino and Ernesto Pierro.

Of his output, his rendition of "El romántico fulero" is remarkable. He rescued the historical title and the original lyric of a famous tango of the 40s: "Manoblanca", whose words were written by Homero Manzi for that old tune composed by Antonio De Bassi.

On May 2, 2002 the daily paper La Nación published the following piece of news signed by René Vargas Vera: «At age 64, the musician and actor Walter Yonsky passed away. He committed suicide for financial problems.

«Very few had imagined that a man —an artist— so vital, so euphoric and histrionic would have a date with Death some day. But the profound depression —according to the people close to him— due to the lack of job and the financial difficulties was what accelerated his departure. So the day before yesterday Walter Yonsky put an end to his life by jumping from the terrace of the building where he lived».