Fernando Tell

Real name: Tell, Fernando Vicente
Bandoneonist and composer
(22 January 1921 - 29 March 1995)
Place of birth:
María Susana (Santa Fe) Argentina
Néstor Pinsón

ne evening while my radio program Siempre el tango was aired by Radio Municipal, one of the boys in charge of the news left on my table a last minute cable from the TELAM news agency which I transcribe verbatim:

«Urgent. Date: 29 March 1995. Suicide. The musician Fernando Tell, who was member in the 40s of the Aníbal Troilo Orchestra, took his own life by stabbing his neck, according to police sources. Tell, 74 years old, was found dead by his neighbors in a room of his house located on Entre Ríos 3572, in the southern area of Rosario. He was an outstanding bandoneonist that joined, as well, the orchestras led by Piazzolla, Fresedo and Antonio Rodio. “Vamos, vamos zaino viejo” was one of Tell’s most well-known numbers which in the 50s was recorded by Troilo with Ángel Cárdenas on vocals. In 1960 he traveled to Japan and became one of the first Argentines who played tango in that country. There he lived for three years and joined important orchestras and was also featured in a recording session of the Orquesta Típica Tokio. Tell’s corpse was sent to the Instituto Médico Legal for the corresponding autopsy. Due to reasons of jurisdiction, the proceedings...», etc.

The broadcaster based in Rosario, Gerardo Quilici, nephew of the well-remembered violinist and friend Nito Farace, wrote about him: «A prudent man, coy, with a sign of shyness which was noted in his expressions and way of smiling. He spent his childhood in a rural town (María Susana, province of Santa Fe) and his uncle, the town barber and musician, was who taught him to play bandoneon when he was only nine. At age fourteen, with the money he had saved with the pay for his job, he bought his first instrument. When he was sixteen, the renowned bandleader of Rosario, José Sala, played in his town and, then, they made him listen to the kid. He was satisfied with his playing and promised him a job in the big city, Rosario. Two months later, he received a telegram and left to begin his work in show business».

He joined the group led by José Sala, but also, the one led by his brother Domingo and in the early 40s he decided to take a chance in Buenos Aires.

His first stint in our city and, for three months, was in the Miguel Padula’s orchestra. Later other three months with Edgardo Donato. In 1944, he was the lead bandoneon with Antonio Rodio and, one year later, he joined the aggregation fronted by Astor Piazzolla that accompanied Francisco Fiorentino, in his new capacity as soloist. Thereafter he joined the Francini-Pontier Orchestra between 1947 and 1948.

Later, would come his decisive stage with Aníbal Troilo with whom he stayed until 1959. That year he attempted a commercial experience which turned out quite short. He returned to tango, this time, to join Osvaldo Fresedo.

In 1960, he got in touch with a Japanese journalist and, because of that, he traveled to Japan. There he was for three years and went to several cities. He appeared to great success and made eighty recordings and also he devoted to teaching to polish the technique of his fellow musicians.

When he returned he had different stints and joined Troilo again until that fatal May 18, 1975 when, as a poet said: «Pichuco fell from the bandoneon’s hands».

As composer, his first tango was dedicated to his father: “Don Ángel”. Also the following belong to him: “Del campo y la ciudad”, dedicated to his mother, a milonga recorded by the Carlos Figari Orchestra; “Mientras caía el telón”, recorded by the singer Aldo Calderón with his orchestra conducted by Ismael Spitalnik; “La huella”, estilo recorded by Edmundo Rivero; “Añoranzas” and, also a gato, “Regalón”, plus several numbers composed during his stay in Japan which he recorded in three long-playing records for the label King Record.

This short portrayal is to remember an excellent musicianwho was, undoubtedly, a distinguished ambassador of our tango in the far distant Japan.