Anibal Troilo

Aníbal Troilo, also known as Pichuco, Gordo or El bandoneon mayor de Buenos Aires, was a renown musician, composer and director of the golden age. 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 classics such as “Barrio de tango” (1942), “Garúa” (1943), “María” (1945), “Romance de bario” (1947), “Sur” (1948), “Che bandoneon” (1950), “Responso” (1951), “La ultima curda” (1956), and ”Nocturno a mi barrio” (1969).

Aníbal Carmelo Troilo was born in 1914 to a modest family in the neighbourhood of Abasto in Buenos Aires. His father was a butcher who died when he was only 8-years-old. As a child he was fascinated by the bandoneon and he was 10-years-old when he convinced his mother to buy him one.

Anibal Troilo’s experience as a musician in his youth was rich and diverse. In 1925 he began performing in public in a bar next to the mercado Abasto. In 1928 he formed his first quinteto and performed with Juan Maglio at the Café Germinal in 1929. He played with Ciriaco Ortiz for the Sexteto Vardaro-Pugliese and the Orquesta los provincianos in 1930. In 1932 he joined the orchestra of Julio de Caro and worked with other major orchestras in the 1930’s including those of Angel D’Agostino, Alfredo Gobbi, La Típica Victor, Juan d’Arienzo, Luis Petrucelli and Juan Carlos Cobian.

When Toilo finally formed his own orchestra in 1937 he was only 23-years-old. He made his debut as a director in the cabaret el Marabú and was immediately hired to perform at the Café Germinal. These were the years when tango was coming back into fashion because of the success and influence of Juan d’Arienzo and tango orchestras were needed all over the city.

One year after his debut in 1938, Troilo signed a contract with the label Odeon. Unfortunately he was requested to record only two tracks under this label so “Comme il faut” and “Tinta verde” are the only recordings he have from his early years as a director. In 1941 Troilo began recording with RCA Victor.

In 1942 Anibal Troilo was hired to perform with his orchestra at the Tibidabo, a cabaret located on Avenida Corrientes 1244. There he performed with Francisco Fiorentino and Orlando Goñi, turning the place into one of the hot spots of the golden age where poets and musicians such as Homero Manzi, Pascual Contursi, Catúlo Castillo, César Vedani and José Razzano used to hang out.

Anibal Troilo was the star of the Tibidabo for over 10 years. He appeared 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 Tibiado was demolished two years later as cabarets began closing and tango orchestras were dismembered in the 1950’s.

Though tango was going through a profound crisis in the 1960’s and 70’s, Troilo continued inovating and experimenting with small bands, duos and giant orchestras. Along with Astor Piazzolla he became one of the pillars of the Vanguardia and continued performing until his death in 1975. He left 449 recordings with his orchesta típica and many more with other other bands and orchestras. From 1948 to 1976 he appeared in various movies including “El tango vuelve a Paris”, “Mi noche triste”, and “Tango Argentino”.

An important contribution of Anibal Troilo was to give a second life to tango poetry and singing during the golden age. This aspect of tango was loosing ground following the death of Carlos Gardel in 1935 and Troilo was the first director to fully incorporate tango singers to his orchestra. He worked with some of the greatest interpreters including Fransisco Fiorentino, Alberto Marino, Floreal Ruiz, Edmundo Rivero, Roberto Rufino, Raúl Berón and Roberto Goyeneche.

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[1] Gobello, José. Mujeres y hombres que hicieron el tango. Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de Cultura Argentina, 2002. Print.

[2] Tango: Cien anos de historia (Vol. II). Buenos Aires: Editorial Perfil, 1992. Print.

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