Another figure from the “Golden Age of Tango” during the 1940s is pianist, composer and orchestra leader Ricardo Tanturi. He was born on 27 January 1905 to Italian parents in the Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Barracas, considered one of the poorest areas by the Riachuelo (small river). He first studied the violin under Francisco Alessio, uncle of the famous bandoneonist and director Enrique Alessio. However, Ricardo was convinced to give up the violin and take up the piano instead by his brother, Antonio, pianist and co-director of the Orquesta Típica Tanturi-Petrone.
In 1924, Tanturi launched his professional career at clubs and charity festivals, playing the piano. He also went on to study medicine and graduated with very good marks. While in university, he organised student bands. It was here where he met actor Juan Carlos Thorry, who would become Tanturi’s first orchestra singer.
Tanturi founded a tango sextet in 1933 to perform at cinemas and theatres. The group was named “Los Indios” after a polo team. He would go onto call all his tango groups by the same name. Each performance always opened with a tango also called “Los Indios.” The tango, however, was composed by Francisco Canaro, but he never recorded it.
Tanturi started making records in 1937, beginning with a record that featured an instrumental version of “Tierrita” by Agustín Bardi, and “A la luz del candil“, with music written by Carlos Vicente Geroni Flores, lyrics by Julio Navarrine, and sung by Carlos Ortega. Tanturi’s greatest star would be Alberto Castillo. The singer seduced crowds with his perfect tune, mastery of pitch and mezza voce. He was a favourite performer thanks to his exaggerated gestures, masculine elegance and neat hairstyle, and intimate but lively mood. Together, Tanturi and Castillo made 37 records before Castillo left the group in 1943.
The new lead singer became Uruguayan Enrique Campo whose style has been described as ‘concerned in communicating with the public’. With Tanturi, Campo recorded 51 songs. The 1943 orchestra was comprised of Armando Posada (piano), Francisco Ferraro, Héctor Gondre, Jose Raúl Iglesias, Emilio Aguirre and Juan Saettone (bandoneons), Armando Husso, Norberto Guzman, Alberto Taido and Vicente Salerno (violins) and Enzo Raschelli, later Ramon Outeda (bass). These line-ups are considered the peak of splendor for Tanturi’s orchestra and, until its dissolution 1951, its main members.
In 1946, Tanturi achieved similar greatness with Osvaldo Ribo. Later on, artists like Roberto Videla, Juan Carlos Godoy and Elsa Rivas were able to revive Tanturi’s popularity. In 1956, Tanturi assembled his final orchestra, which included Armando Posada (piano), Natalio Berardi (double bass), Santos Maggi, Horacio Perri, Ricardo Varela, José Raúl Iglesias and Ezequiel Esteban (bandoneons), Antonio D’Alessandro, Emilio González, Fidel De Luca and Orlando Perri (violins).
Among his most popular tango compositions are “Amigos presente“, “A otra cosa, ché, pebeta” and “Pocas palabras” with lyrics written by Enrique Cadícamo; “Sollozo de bandoneón“, with Enrique Dizeo, and “Ese sos vos“, with Francisco García Jiménez.