Orquesta Típica Aníbal Troilo

El Bandoneón Mayor and his musicians

14.07.1914  +18.05.1975


El Gordo (the "fat"), Pichuco (Lunfardo for ‚small dog’)

Number of recordings:

more then 450

To buy:



intimate interplay between singer and orchestra, quick change between lyrical and rhythmical

A nice discography is offered by La Milonga di Alvin.


complex, dynamical, poetical

full of contrast, the sound of Troilos bandoneon

Biggest hits:

Toda mi vida (1941, Fiorentino), Uno (1943, Marino), Sur (1948, Rivero)
Quejas de bandoneón (1944, 1958)

Important singers:

Francisco Fiorentino (1937-1944)
Alberto Marino (1943-1947)
Floreal Ruiz (1944-1948)
Edmundo Rivero (1947-1949)
Roberto Goyeneche (1956-1963)

Important musicians:

Piano: Orlando Goñi (1937-1943), musical genius genius, bohemien

Violin: David Díaz, was first violin from 1938 to 1975

Bass: Kicho Díaz, Metronom and centre of power (1937-1959)



Aníbal Troilo conquered the hearts of the porteños with his sensitive bandoneón playing, an incomparable character and with his great kindness and humanity.


It doesn't surprise that Argentina celebrates the Día Nacional del Bandoneón on his birthday in accordance with law no. 26.035.


Troilo was only 23 when he made his debut with his orchestra. Together with his musicians, he brought the tango to its full maturity around 1940. He gave his great singers a lot of space and let their voices merge more and more with the accompanying music of the orchestra.


His style became groundbreaking for many contemporary and subsequent orchestras: a sensitively orchestrated mixture of rhythm and filigree melodies arranged around often sad and melancholy lyrics.


Together with Juan D'Arienzo, Carlos Di Sarli and Osvaldo Pugliese, he is rightly counted among the Big Four of tango heaven.


From child star to orchestra leader

Pichuco was a passionate footballer. Therefore, the anecdote sounds nice that the ten-year-old heard a bandoneon for the first time when he picked up a missed ball from a neighbourhood café.


In any case, the sound of the bandoneon fascinated the little boy. Despite extreme poverty, his mother, who had been widowed for several years, bought a genuine Doble-A (= Alfred Arnold from Saxony) for her boy. It accompanied him almost until the end of his life.


Aníbal received lessons and practised so passionately that he was engaged after a short time in a neighbourhood silent cinema.


His mother's investment in the fueye, as the bandoneon is also called, paid off from then on. At 14, Pichuco dropped out of school, played briefly in a girls' band, matured, gained great recognition and developed into a musician with a wide stylistic range.


In the early and mid-1930s, he made music in changing line-ups with numerous progressive and mutually inspiring friends such as Alfredo Gobbi, Pedro Maffia, Elvino Vardaro, Osvaldo Pugliese and, most formative, Ciriaco Ortíz.

In 1937 he organised his first orchestra. He was only 23 years old, but had already been in the business for over ten years.


1933 Troilo was part of the famous Vardaro sextet, in this recording we can hear his playing for the first time.

Tigre Viejo, 1933

The recording is a so-called acetate cut, which was made directly into vinyl, which was less costly than the direct cut in wax.

Her we see young Troilo, without his Bhudda face, in the movie Cuidad also with the Vardaro-Sextett.

In the Cabaret Marabú (1937) and Tibidabo (1942)

Troilo was lucky: the Cabaret Marabú, one of the most important ballrooms in the city, was looking for a new tango combo. His singer Francisco Fiorentino, older, more experienced, a tailor by trade, brought his young fellow musicians into line and tuned them into the noble ambience: perfectly fitting suits, accurate appearance, punctuality and always a cheerful smile.



In April, the band opened the new Cabaret Tibidabo, successor to the Royal Pigall, which became its regular venue until the closure in 1955. The orchestra usually played 4 to 6 times a week from April to December.


The start was solid but not overwhelming.

Michael Lavocah uses press reviews in his monograph on Troilo to trace how the band matured over the course of 1938 and gradually found its style.


In 1938, Troilo secured a three-year contract with Odeon, one of the two major record companies. But it proved to be a dead end. Odeon only granted Troilo two recordings during this time: Comme il faut and Tinta verde. Still today they convince with power and energy, but they were probably too avant-garde and sales remained moderate.


It is more than bitter that the important years between 1938 and 1940 were not documented on shellac. After the outstanding success of Toda mi vida in the 1940 carnival season RCA Victor sign the band. The main recording career started.


In 1941 they entered the recording studio twelve times. Today, there is probably hardly a DJ who spends an evening without these 24 recordings. They are energetic, rhythmic, but at the same time richer, more sophisticated and more diversely arranged than the music of the top dog D'Arienzo. Rhythmic and melodic phrases follow one another in rapid succession, which is typical of Troilo.

1946: we see Troilo (mid), Manzi, Razzano, Ortiz, Lomuto, Castillo, Maffia, Laurenz

Toda mi vida - 1940 - Fiorentino - with many pictures of the musicians


In 1938, Troilo met the love of his life, the Greek-born Ida Calachi, known as Zita.

After only six months, they moved together. She was his close friend throughout his life.

Together they listened to music. She advised her Buddha, as she called him because of his big face, in the selection of musicians and singers. She was a support for him when he was ill, and tried to moderate his alcohol and cocaine consumption.


Aníbal Troilo - Bandoneón

He plays one note and hits you right in the heart, Pascual Mamone praises him.

Troilo was certainly not the greatest virtuoso, but he put the most feeling and expression into his music. He had a velvety phrasing, like his early idol Pedro Maffia, and was inspired by Pedro Laurenz' brilliant technique.

Often with closed eyes, often leaning slightly forward he played his instrument his huge double chin drooping. He was in another world and yet very closely connected to his audience. His bandoneon seemed to speak to the listeners. The porteños are quite unanimous in their judgement: El Gordo is considered one of the very great bandoneon players of the tango.

Singing like Gardel - of arrangers and erasers

The composers seldom supplied complete scores, but, in the form of piano notes (bass and melody part(s) ), only melodies for verse, chorus, as well as rhythmic patterns for the accompaniment and, in the best case, suggestions for certain solos.


Each orchestra then arranged in its own style, distributing sections and solos among the various instruments, designing intros and transitions.


Troilo was a musical autodidact with no sound training. Setting the notes for a many-piece orchestra therefore overtaxed him. And so he soon left it to professional arrangers after the ranks of bandoneons and violins continued to grow. In the forties, the viola and cello voices were added to the orchestra.

But he had a good feeling for fine, complex and yet balanced arrangements.


The grooving hits of 1941 and 1942 were shaped by pianist Orlando Goñi and the industrious, stylistically confident arranger Hector María Artola.

Since 1942, in addition to Argentino Galván, who was already groundbreaking for Miguel Caló's orchestra in the years before, the maverick Astor Piazzolla got a big role in arranging.



Troilo always wanted the orchestra itself to play with as much expression as a human voice, indeed, it should sound like Carlos Gardel's singing.


This explains the strong changes in dynamics, timbre and instrumentation. At the same time, he fully embedded the singer in the orchestra like another instrument, often giving him a lot of space.

Troilo wanted the music itself to tell the poetry of the tango lyrics.

The Singing and the music blend together, complement each other with countermelodies, the instruments anticipate or underscore the singing. Often it is a violin or bandoneon solo that embodies the emotion of the text.


After cello and viola were added to the orchestra in 1943, the contrast between symphonic, punchy passages and quiet, interwoven melodic lines became even greater.


When his arrangers then rehearsed the pieces with the orchestra, Troilo's dreaded eraser came into play. With unerring feeling, he erased notes and whole passages so that the music had enough air.

The composer

He composed arround 60 tangos, some of them like Toda mi vida (1941), Barrio de tango (1942), María (1945), Sur (1948) oder Romance de barrio (1947) are among the big classics.

His collaboration with the gifted tango poets of the 1940s such as Homero Manzi and José María Contursi was groundbreaking. The latter immortalised his immeasurable heartbreak about his unrequited love for the self-confident provincial beauty Gricel in lyrics that were both touching and oppressive. (Here you find more information about Gricel and all the suffering arround.)

Francisco Fiorentino – The typical Cantor de Orquesta

Fiore, as he was nicknamed, actually began as a bandoneon player, but sang the choruses, e.g. with Francisco Canaro, as early as the 20s. Troilo embedded Fiorentino's singing in his filigree arrangements. And so he developed into the still legendary Cantor de Orquesta (=orchestra singer) of the early forties.

Although he phrased more freely and inspiringly, he always gave the dancers sufficient rhythmic orientation. Alberto Castillo, singer of Tanturi, started a very successful solo career in 1943. Fiore wanted to do the same. He also set out on his own as a solo star at Easter 1944.

At first, Troilo's former pianist Orlando Goñi led Fiores orchestra. Then Fiore entrusted Astor Piazzolla with the direction of his orchestra. However, he never again achieved the magic that he had with Troilo.

The other singers

Not only the general trend to play slower changed the sound after 1941, but also a new singer.

In choosing only 20 years old Alberto Marino, who was perfectly trained as an opera singer, Troilo had once again shown a lucky hand.

The golden voice of the tango, as he was called, left behind gems like Uno (1943), Fruta amarga (1945) or Maria (1945) and phrased even more freely than Fiorentino. Troilo now had one of the best pairs of singers.



In the following decades, great vocal personalities such as Floreal Ruiz, Raúl Berón, Edmundo Rivero or Roberto Goyeneche, among others, lent their voices to this wonderful orchestra.

Edmundo Rivero (1947-1950)

Rivero (1911-1986) took on a difficult legacy. But he convinced with his very personal style. Rivero was a bass-baritone and not a tenor like the previous voices. His delivery is rough-legged, sometimes almost speaking. And, Rivero was considered distinctly ugly.

But Troilo sensed the exceptionality of this person, who had not really had success before with De Caro or Salgán.

But Rivero had a large fan base. And he impressed as a composer, singer and guitarist. He often accompanied himself on the guitar with his huge hands.


At the audition, Troilo sat with him in a pub and they sang together the whole night. Troilo was a warm-hearted person who lived friendship, humanity and music from the heart.

22 recordings were made, including Yira, yira. The full power of his singing culminates in Troilo's composition SUR.

Rivero was a regular in the tango bars Caño 14 and El Viejo Almacén in the 60s and 70s. His most important orchestras were those of Salgán and Leopoldo Federico. This singer full of character died in 1986.

Sur (1948)
Edmundo Rivero

Roberto Goyeneche (1956-1963)

El Polaco (1926-1995) worked as a bus driver until he won one of the usual singing competitions in 1944 and sang for Raúl Kaplun's orchestra from 1947-1952.

Then he drove a bus again, sang for the passengers and was discovered for Salgán's orchestra (1952-1956), from where Troilo recruited him. In addition to the many concerts, 39 recordings were made until 1963.


El Polaco has a unique sandpaper voice and a unique way of performing. He kneads and shapes the melodies like hardly anyone else. This is hardly dance music, but great listening pleasure.

At the same time, his voice is very similar to Rivero's.

In the 70s, Goyeneche was considered the greatest voice of the tango, he becomes a myth of his own.

His phrasing is full of character, his singing becomes more and more a performance. Almost daily he is on stage at Caño 14.

He is present at the last recordings of the Troilo Orchestra, without voice but with even more pronounced phrasing. In the eighties, he works with Piazzolla, the Sexteto Tango or the Sexteto Mayor. He dies in 1995.

Roberto Goyeneche

The musicians

Orlando Goñi - piano - El Pulpo

It was above all Orlando Goñi who, together with Troilo, shaped the playing style and stylistic development of the orchestra in the early years.


Goñi was an extraordinary pianist who improvised freely across all registers. Because his arms flew wildly over the keyboard, the lanky, pale dandy was nicknamed Pulpo, the octopus.


In many tango orchestras, the piano together with the bass precisely marks the rhythm like a metronome, replacing the missing drums.


Goñi, on the other hand, played more variably, delaying and speeding up, often in dialogue with Troilo's bandoneon and Fiorentino's singing. Alongside this, he drove the orchestra with wild chords struck in bordana technique in his left hand, while the right let melodic lines pearl. (Bordona: the notes are not struck simultaneously, but very briefly one after the other, like striking guitar strings.)



How Goñi improvises over all octaves and heats up the orchestra can be heard well in the contrasting and lively arrangement of the instrumental tango C.T.V (1942).

But the genius lived the life of a bohemian. Goñi drank a lot, consumed drugs. Because of his unreliability, Troilo finally fired  him in 1943.


For a good year, Goñi managed to conquer central radio stations with his own orchestra, partly together with Fiore, and to inspire dancers at the Café Nacional.


In 1944 he died - a Jim Morrison of the tango - weakened at only 31.

José Basso (1919-1993)

Already at the age of 13 he played the piano in the orchestra of Juan Sánchez Gorio. In 1943, at 24, now experienced and matured, he replaced the super-talented Goñi.

The problem was: There were no notes. Troilo's arrangers had soon given up trying to write anything for Goñi because, by their own admission, his improvisations were simply better.

In 1947, Basso founded his own very successful orchestra with the singers Francisco Fiorentino, Ricardo Ruíz, Oscar Ferrari, Rodolfo Galé and  Alfredo Belusi as singers and remained  successful with different formations until 1990.

The Díaz brothers - long-time pillars of the orchestra

Goñi, Troilo and Fiorentino often phrased very freely, deliberately playing a bit before, a bit after the beat. For two decades it was bass man Kicho Díaz who therefore provided the foundation with his steady and precise playing. He joined the orchestra in 1938, also only 20 years old.


David Díaz, Kicho's brother, even played the first violin for almost four decades, from 1937 until Troilo's last performances in 1975.

With his lovely violin tone, he shaped the melodic passages.


Astor Piazzolla - on the way to tango modernity

Just as little Troilo himself had admired the performances of the De Caro brothers' sextet a good decade earlier and trained himself on them, young Astor, attached to the traditional scene in love and scepticism, followed Troilo's performances at the Café Germinal around 1939 until he knew all the pieces by heart.


When a bandoneon player fell ill, the 18-year-old took his chance, auditioned and was accepted into the orchestra. He was a restless, playful spirit. It does not surprise that Troilo gave him the nickname Gato (cat).


In 1942, the precocious, brilliant Piazzolla, who was constantly learning composition, also pushed himself into the role of arranger vor the Troilo orchestra and forced the musical development of the orchestra with diversely orchestrated classics such as Uno (1943, Marino), Inspiración (1943) or Chiqué (1943), the latter with a wonderful bandoneon solo by Troilo as the finale.


In the Forties Dancers had a hard time with these arrangements. That didn't bother Astor. He didn't like the cabarets anyway, and in his eyes the dancers slowed down the musical development of the tango.


In the end, he left Troilo in June 1944, not exactly in peace, but returned as the most important arranger after 1950, when the tango had already lost its importance as dance music.


The late Troilo

Music to listen to

The music of Troilo's later decades is a story of its own.
Dancers hear the recordings of the middle (1949-1960) and late (1960-1975) creative periods not very often. PErhaps they might fit as the romantic finale of a tango festival.

In these years the orchestra played for cinema, radio and concert halls, but hardly ever for the dance floor. The music is now symphonic, complex, sometimes quite experimental.


Voices or string carpets are in the foreground, dancers lack the energy of the early years - but pleasurable listeners experience great mini-operas such as Responso (1951), which Troilo composed on the occasion of the death of his favourite tango poet Homero Manzi, or El motivo (1962) with the rough and tumble voice of Roberto Goyeneche (1961) and classics such as Inspiración (1957), Nocturna (1957) or Payadora (1966).

in his late phase after 1960 until his too early death in May 1975 we find Troilo in concert halls as well as in shows on television and in theatres. With his limited strength and vanashing health he often dragged himself on stage. Often one of his musicians took over particularly demanding passages.


The Troilo Grela Quartet

After an acclaimed performance with guitarist Roberto Grela, the two went into the studio twice after 1953. In contrast to the very richly arranged orchestral pieces, these quartet recordings, often arranged while playing, i.e. a la parilla, are quite appealing as one can immediately hear Troilo's fresh, soulful playing, accompanied by the Gardel of the guitar.

Troilo for dancers

It is difficult to creat a representative best-of list It is difficult to compile a best-of list from the multitude of all the musical gems!
A reasonable, complete compilation of possible tandas can be found at Clint Rauschers tangology101

The early Forties: Tangos full of energy

Rhythmical, up tempo instrumentals full of power like Tinta verde (1938) or Milongueando en el 40 (1941) live from Goñis rumbling piano chords and lively arrangements.

Toda mi vida , Te aconsejo que me olvides, Yo soy el tango and Maragata (1941, Fiorentino) are as much unique classics of the genre likePajaro ciego (1941). Here we find Fiorentino singing in duett with the less known singer Amadeo Mandarino.

Eva Icikson and Brenno Marques – Bratislava - 2018

Tinta roja
Horacio Godoy and Cecilia Berra, Aníbal Troilo-, PLANETANGO-XXIV Festival

Te aconsejo que me olvides
Alejandra Mantinan & Aoniken Quiroga - 8th Dubai Tango Festival 2016

Fausto Carpino & Stephanie Fesneau, vaMOS Italian Intervention 14-18.06.2012

Yo soy el tango
Horacio Godoy and Cecilia Berra, 4-5, Moscow, Russia, Planetango16, 11.02.2016

Toda mi vida
Luna Palacios and Javier Rodriguez - London 2017

Lyrical master pieces

With singer Alberto Marino the repertoire changed even more to more subtle interpretations likeUno (1943), Torrente (1944) or María (1945). But also the fantastic tangos with singer Fiorentino like Farol (1943), Gime el viento (1943) and Yuyo verde (1945) or La noche que te fuiste (1945), sung by Fiorentinos succesor Floreal Ruiz follow this patterm. Sur (1948), Troilos most imortant composition with the unique voice of Edmundo Riveros, was the vocal tango Troilo liked best.

Corazon No le hagas caso
Diego Riemer y Maria Filali - Paris - 2018

Maria Filali and Gianpiero Galdi - Cluj - 2018

En esta tarde gris
Carlitos Espinoza & Noelia Hurtado - Freiburg - 2012

Ewa Wojtkiewicz and Piotr Roemer - Warschau 2018

La noche que te fuiste
Christian Marquez et Virginia Gomez (Los Totis) - Montreal - 2014

Virginia Gomez and Christian Marquez –  – Warschau, 2019

Symphonic :

La bordona
Lorena Tarantino & Gianpiero Galdi - Istanbul 2019

Demanding Valses

Troilos valses drive forward with great energy and at the same time are filled with varied, demanding gimmicks:
Tu diagnóstico (1941, Fiorentino), Valsecito amigo (1943, Fiorentino) or Flor de lino (1947, Ruiz).

Troilo's composition Romance de barrio (1947, Ruiz) is one of the most beautiful melodies of the genre; the musicians sensitively interpret Soñar y nada más (1943, Fiorentino/Marino).
Calmer, more lyrical and more demanding is Llorarás... llorarás... (1945, Floreal Ruiz).
Lagrimitas de mi corazón (1948, Ruiz/Riviero) shows the class of the orchestra at the end of the decade.

Valsecito amigo
Eva Icikson and Brenno Marques – Bratislava 2018

Lloraras, lloraras
 Lorena Tarantino y Gianpiero Ya Galdi
 Querido Milonga, Tel-Aviv -2019


Mano brava (1941, Fiorentino), Ficha de oro (1942, Fiorentino) and De pura cepa (1942, Instrumental) form a demanding tanda full of energy.

Mano brava
Noelia Hurtado and Carlitos Espinoza Cluj 2017

Con todo la voz que tengo
Clarisa Aragon and Jonathan Saavedra – Berlin 2017