Biography of Waldo de los Ríos

by Horacio Miguel Vasquez

Waldo de los Ríos was born in Buenos Aires, September 7 1934. Real Name: Osvaldo Nicolás Ferrara. As a prodigy child, he often accompanied her mother Martha de los Ríos at the piano. She was a well known Argentine folklore singer (1906-1995).

He is musically formed in the Argentine National Conservatoire with Lita Spena, Alberto Ginastera and Teodoro Fuchs.His beloved classical composers were Maurice Ravel, Bela Bartok, Manuel de Falla...  Soon he started to work in Film music

He also made collaboration like being part of a small ensamble named "Frankie & his Clave Boys" (Waldo - piano, Horacio Malvicino/Alain Debray - guitar, Jorge López Ruiz - bass and "Pichi" Mazzei - drums) which made the early instrumental backgrounds for "Los 5 latinos" first recordings (1957), a famous Argentine vocal quintet inspired in the US group "The Platters".

He had international projection since his own composition, the "Suite Sudamericana / South American Suite" is presented at a convention auditorium of his record company in 1961 (then Columbia, label which made the LP recording). His talent is well appreciated by Percy Faith, Michel Legrand, Frank Devol, and Andre Kostelanetz, who were present in that performance.

With his orchestra he made the arrangements and conduction of the first album of Alberto Cortez in 1961 ( Argentine singer later settled in Spain also ), who had been in France and recorded the song "La Escalera / The Stairway" in French under musical direction of Paul Mauriat" that year.

After a learning stay in Germany, he settled in Madrid, Spain in 1962.

Then he made sporadic visits to Buenos Aires, where he made some solo piano radio broadcast participations between 1962 and 1965, which some cuts were fortune compiled in a 2001 CD named "Solo Piano" (Melopea Records).

Since 1964/5 Rafael Trabuchelli was the A&A and producer of Hispavox, a leader record company in Spain. He recorded a lot of the most emblematic and popular songs of that time in that country. He put Waldo de los Rios under contract as his assistant and the sound engineer Mike Lewellyn Jones from Chile. They were recording an average of 100 records per year, hit after hit, so they were able to obtain the most advanced technology available in those years.

Rafael Trabucchelli, who also is a musician who has composed a piano concerto which was premiered in Teatro alla Scala di Milano a few years ago, talked about his work for Hispavox and Waldo de los Ríos:
"Everybody's talking what the 'Torrelaguna Sound' is (Hispavox highly appreciated quality sound recordings). I don't really know. I just certainly know it was a sound world wide appreciated. I think it was a great studio with the best musicians available in conjunction with the run over imagination from all collaborators I had. Among them was Waldo de los Ríos, which is the most talented person I ever knew from all the music world. We both created the 'Torrelaguna Sound'..."

Also in those years he often conducts the Spanish Radio TV (TVE) Orchestra in live Theatre concerts and radio TV emissions. He also compose some issues of the successful "Historias para no dormir / Don't sleep tales for" TVE thriller and suspense series.

In 1966 he compose the Argentina-Spain co-production film soundtrack "Pampa Salvaje / Savage Pampas").

Waldo himself explain us:
"in this picture I was able to make my musical dream true without difficulties and to be able to employ all elements and styles which the image suggested me. So I employed twelve tone series, free atonalism, polyrhythms, etc. I could express freely myself, in accordance with my feelings".

He confessed that this soundtrack and his "Los Waldos" recording the following year, were the works he was most satisfied with.

In 1967 he formed in Spain a musical group with Argentine folk roots called "Los Waldos".

With this quintet he made the recording of "Waldo de los Rios en Europa" album for Hispavox, which later would become an icon of the Argentine folklore and is still surprising because his unusual music conformation and originality on this genre, with mastery and vanguard interpretation.

This formation was integrated by Roque Rubion on vibes and electro acoustics recorded effects tapes, the conductor César Gentilli in "electron", a precursor of modern synthesizers, Alberto Carbia in electric bass, Roberto Stella in drums and the unusual absence of guitar for an Argentine folklore group. The notorious Waldo piano mastery in this recordings place him in the centre of the compositions. Some tracks had a precious use of supporting strings, and some unusual harmony and rhythm changes are employed, like the use of 10/8 in a chacarera (northern Argentina folk song). This album had not big sales.

Miguel Ríos, a Spanish rock artist (Granada, June 7 1944) recorded in 1969 "Himno a la Alegría/ Ode to Joy", a Waldo de los Ríos arrangement conducted by himself of the 4th. movement of IX Beethoven Symphony "Choral". This recording (originally included in the Spanish Miguel Ríos album "DESPIERTA" - LP HISPAVOX - HH (S) 11-182.- sold 7.000.000 copies all over the world (appearing in the USA, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Italy, Austria, Holland, Canada charts).

In an interview Miguel Ríos explained us:
"One Day Rafael Trabuchelli, the A&A of my record company told me that Waldo de los Ríos had an idea using the fourth movement of Beethovens's Ninth Symphony, and I must admit I'd never heard of it!  When they called me for the recording there was a whole symphony orchestra. It was magnificent and sounded amazing. When I started singing, it seemed really marvelous..."

This recording sold 1 millon in USA, and 2,5 millon in Germany, being 7.000.000 all over the world!

In the 1969 fall he spent Christmas in Buenos Aires with his family and made TV appearances where all his talent is showed .

After recording some instrumental easy listening albums in middle 60's under his artistic name, he start to arrange classical music in early 70's, adding original rhythm arrangements which include Argentine folk percussion instruments in the orchestrations. His recording of the first movement of the Mozart Symphony 40 is an instant world wide hit which is followed by other Easy Listening artists covers like Caravelli, Werner Müller, Ronnie Aldrich, Raymond Lefèvre among others.

He also continue to arrange and conduct for singers like the first recordings of Jeannette, an English settled in Spain singer who appeared in the soundtrack of 1971 Carlos Saura "Cria Cuervos" film starred by Geraldine Chaplin.

He made live concerts in the Luna Park of Buenos Aires, conducting an orchestra conformed with members of the local National Symphony Orchestra and other prestigious ensembles.

In 1973 he composed the "Concierto para Guitarra Criolla"/Folk Guitar Concerto"

In those years he explore different genres and made a lot of Symphonic arrangements, many times avant garde.

In March 28, 1977 he commits suicide in Madrid, victim of a deep depression.