Romeo Gavioli

Real name: Gavioli, Romeo
Nicknames: Romeo Gavio
Singer, violinist, composer and bandleader
(5 February 1913 - 17 April 1957)
Place of birth:
Montevideo Uruguay
Ricardo García Blaya

e belongs to the kind of singers I like most. Archetype of the style in vogue during the forties, his voice expresses an introspective feeling through a delicate phrasing and an exquisite musicality. These qualities betray the musician he hides inside of him. His way of interpretation carries us to a pleasant, warm mood that make us remember those light tenors that preceded him.

I think that, along with Alberto Vila, he was one of the best tango performers born on the eastern bank of the River Plate.

It is important too, his career as leader of a rhythmical, well-polished orchestra in which the strings blended with the bandoneons in a solid simple way with a driving piano. It reminds us, sometimes, of the Ángel D'Agostino’s style and, at other times, of Alfredo De Angelis. In sum, an ideal combination for dancers and for the fans of the best tango.

His work as composer is not unimportant either. The following tangos stand out: “Payaso triste” and “Noche campera”, in collaboration with Carmelo Imperio and lyrics by Juan Carlos Patrón; “María del Carmen” and “Yo nací cantando un tango”, both with José Rótulo; “Pelota de trapo”, with Imperio and lyrics by Enrique Soriano; “Montevideo querido”, also with Carmelo Imperio and lyrics by Miguel Manzi; “Melodía gitana”, with Juan Carlos Patrón. Let us remember his milongas, many of them with a candombe flavor: “El pescado”, “La fogata de San Pedro”, “Estampa del ochocientos”; “Baile de los morenos”, all them with and lyrics by Gerónimo Yorio; his waltzes: “Dime que vendrás”, with Rótulo; “Jardín de Francia”, with Antonio Casciani; “Tal vez sí tal vez no”, with Imperio; the marcha “Mi Montevideo”, with his own words, and many other numbers.

He was born in Montevideo, in the neighborhood La Comercial. His siblings were as well musicians. Rolando, two years his junior, was bandoneonist in many orchestras such as the one led by Pedro Laurenz. Lydia was a pianist. She had her own groups and joined Los Bemoles, the first group led by Romeo, in which also Rolando was a member.

In 1929, as violinist and singer he had a short tenure in the orchestra led by Juan Baüer —Firpito—. Later he switched to Héctor Gentile’s outfit, lined up by Lalo Etchegoncelay (piano), Héctor Gentile and Isidro Pellejero (bandoneons), Emilio Pellejero and Romeo Gavioli (violins) and Pedro Terrón (double bass).

In his book Ochenta notas de tango, Horacio Loriente tells us about his work in the so-called Típica de la Guardia Vieja which, between June and July 1932 appeared at a contest of Uruguayan tangos at the Electric Palace Cinema Theater. It was comprised by, among others, the Gavioli brothers, Isidro Pellejero and Lalo Etchegoncelay.

And later he added: «In 1933 with Lalo Etchegoncelay he shared the leadership of an orchestra in which Panchito Pons was also on vocals when the later was not yet dreaming of singing operatic songs. They went to Buenos Aires to appear on the Prieto and Cultura radio stations.

«In September 1934 in Buenos Aires a new orchestra led by Héctor Gentile appeared at the París Cinema Theater in the play Ya tiene comisario el pueblo. According to Gentile, in Buenos Aires Romeo Gavioli was the main attraction of the group by imitating great artists to such an extent that the group had to be disbanded when Gavioli returned to Montevideo due to family reasons.»

With the Etchegoncelay brothers, Lalo and Freddy, he formed the Trio Los Carves and, later, the violinist Emilio Pellejero was added to form Los Dandys, which in 1935 appeared on Rivadavia, Belgrano and Prieto radio stations.

Four years later he was summoned by Edgardo Donato to appear as singer of his orchestra, along with the other vocalists, Lita Morales and Horacio Lagos, who were wife and husband. Then he shortened his family name to Gavio. Most of the numbers he recorded, a total of 15, are duets or trios with the other singers. As soloist he only recorded three pieces: “La melodía de tu corazón”, “Tu confidencia” and the waltz “Mendocina”.

In 1942 Gavioli's situation in the orchestra began to have complications because of a love affairOsvaldo Donato.

Our singer returned to Montevideo and in May 1943 he put together his own orchestra, starting his best period. It was lined up by: José Mateo, Antonio and Juan Blanco (bandoneons); Romeo, Antonio Lacans and David Duzzman (violins), José Kaplán (piano) and Rubén Tobía (bass). Of course, the bandleader himself was on vocals.

He was one of the first to include candombe in the repertory of a tango orchestra and, as well, he was an important composer of that genre, together with his friend Carmelo Imperio.

In 1945, at the Teatro Artigas, with his aggregation he appeared in the staging of Alberto Vaccarezza's play, El conventillo de La Paloma, to great success. He also appeared and collaborated in El nombre más lindo del mundo, a musical by Wimpi, which also starred Carmen Del Moral, El Chato Roberto Flores and the popular Carlos Roldán.

He appeared in the movie Uruguayos campeones directed by Novel Valentín. In it our beloved Juan Carlos Mareco —Pinocho—, made his debut.

At age 44, due to a strong psychological depression, he committed suicide in his hometown. With this portrayal we remember one of the greatest tango artists of Uruguay.