Aníbal Troilo, also known affectuously as Pichuco, Gordo or El bandoneon mayor de Buenos Aires, was a renown bandoneon player, composer and director of the golden age of tango. With his personal charisma, sensitivity and excellence of interpretation he became one of the major figures of tango history. As a composer he left 60 pieces, many of which are now great classics such as “Barrio de tango” (1942), “Garúa” (1943), “María” (1945), “Romance de bario” (1947), “Sur” (1948), “Che bandoneon” (1950), “Responso” (1951), “La cantina” (1954), “La ultima curda” (1956), and ”Nocturno a mi barrio” (1969).
Troilo was born in 1914 in the neighbourhood of Abasto. He was the son of a butcher who died when he was 8 years old. As a child he was fascinated by the bandoneon, and though to buy such an instrument was a considerable expense for his mother, by age 10 he convinced her to buy him one. A year later he was performing in public for the first time in a bar next to the mercado Abasto.
Anibal Troilo was 14 years old when he formed his first quinteto. In 1929 he was invited to perform with Juan Maglio at the Café Germinal and in 1930 with Ciriaco Ortiz for the Sexteto Vardaro-Pugliese and the Orquesta los provincianos. In 1932 he joined the orchestra of Julio de Caro. Other major orchestras he worked with as a bandoneonista in the 1930’s include those of Angel D’Agostino, Alfredo Gobbi, La Típica Victor, Juan d’Arienzo, Luis Petrucelli and Juan Carlos Cobian.
In 1937 Troilo finally formed his own orchestra. He was 23 years old. He made his debut as a director in the cabaret el Marabú and was almost immediately hired to perform at the Café Germinal. These were the years when Juan D’Arienzo brought tango dancing back into fashion and tango orchestras were needed all over the city. One year later he signed a contract with Odeon but unfortunately was requested to record only two tracks under this label. This is why “Comme il faut” and “Tinta verde” are the only recordings he have from his early years as a director until he began working with RCA Victor in 1941.
In 1942 Anibal Troilo was hired at the Cabaret Tibidabo, a restaurant-dancing which was located on Avenida Corrientes 1244. There he performed (season) with Francisco Fiorentino and Orlando Goñi, turning the place into one of the hot spots of the golden age where poets and muscians such as Homero Manzi, Pascual Contursi, Catúlo Castillo, César Vedani and José Razzano used to gather.
Anibal Troilo was the main attraction at el Tibidabo for over 10 years. He also appeared regularly on popular radio programs such as Ronda de ases throughout the 1940’s. In 1953 he left el Tibidabo to perform with Roberto Grela in the musical “El patio de la Morocha”. The establishment was demolished two years later as cabarets began closing and tango orchestras were dismembered in the late 1950’s.
Though tango was going through profound a crisis in the 60’s and 70’s, Troilo continued working with small bands, duos and giant orchestras. Along with Astor Piazzolla he became one of the pillars of the Vanguardia and continued renovating and performing until his death in 1975. He left and left 449 recordings with his orchesta típica and many more with other other bands and ochestras. From 1948 to 1976 he appeared in various movies including “El tango vuelve a Paris”, “Mi noche triste”, and “Tango Argentino”.
One of the most significant contribution of Anibal Troilo in the golden age was to give a second life to tango poetry, which had lost ground following the death of Carlos Gardel in 1935. Troilo was also first to fully incorporate tango signers to his orchestra, working with the best of them including Fransicso Fiorentino, Alberto Marino, Floreal Ruiz, Edmundo Rivero, Roberto Rufino, Raúl Berón and Roberto Goyeneche.