Born in Santa Fe September 4 1921, Ariel Ramírez studied piano in his hometown and even as a student, knew that in his future he was destined to musically express the story of the men and women of his country. To this end, while still very young, he became familiar with popular musicians and folk singers. He moved to Córdoba where he met Atahualpa Yupanqui who inspired him to discover the north-east. Following his advice, from 1941 he traveled to the provinces of Tucumán, Salta and Jujuy. He lived for several months in Humahuaca, where he received a rich welcome from Justiniano Torres Aparicio, musician and connoisseur of the national culture.
From 1943, he was a pianist of extensive repertoire, based around South American folk music. In 1946 – for the record label RCA Victor, he recorded his first album in 78 rpm with his works The tristecita (Zamba), Purmamarca (bailecito) and Malambo. His collaboration with RCA – through which he recorded 21 discs – lasted until 1956.
In search of the secrets of rhythmic structures and spiritual melodic language of popular music, Ariel Ramírez undertook academic study of music at the Conservatorio Nacional, where he received lessons in piano technique and composition.
In 1950, Ramirez went to Europe for the first time. He worked mainly in Rome at the Istituto Italo-Argentino for Cultural and Artistic Exchange and he became known as performer of the music of Argentina and South American in the concert halls of the University of Barcelona, Santander, Rome, Cambridge, Utrecht and Amsterdam. In 1951 he moved to Madrid where he was hired by the Hispanic Cultural Institute to carry out studies on the traditional oral Spanish music.
On return from Europe in 1954, he settled in Lima (Peru) where he was appointed a member of the Instituto Sanmartiniano of Peru. In recent years he turned to the study cadences and rhythms of local folk music. In 1955 he returned to Argentina where he gave life to the Compañía de Folklore Ariel Ramírez. In 1957 the Compañía visited the major cities of the Soviet Union, Poland and Czechoslovakia. During those years he wrote enriching compositional work such as Los inundados, Volveré siempre in San Juan, La última palabra, The equivocal, El Charrúa, Allá lejos y hace tiempo, and El Cuatro rumbos Paraná en a Zamba. At the same time Ramirez resumed his studies in composition with the maestro Erwin Leuchter for the first decade of the sixties.
Starting in 1961 with the Philips, he recorded a full album of dances inspired by the different regions of his country (including the Zamba, the vals criollo and il tango). Some songs are inspired by traditional themes, expanded on by Ramírez; others are entirely composed by him. The work hints at the depth of analysis and attention to the selection of materials in addition to the strong desire to add to the richness of this music.
The year 1964 was particularly significant in the compositional path of Ramírez. At Christmas, in fact, the Misa Criolla was performed for the first time, an event that gave rise to one of the most brilliant periods of his creative work with the creation of works such as Navidad Nuestra, Los caudillos, Mujeres Argentinas and Cantata Sudamericana.
The international career of Ramirez continued taking his art to other American countries such as Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and Uruguay. In 1967 he undertook the tour of the Misa Criolla to the European continent. Mercedes Sosa, Chito Cevallos and Carlos Amaya were part of the contingent that held recitals in Germany, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland. The tour ended in Rome, with a broadcast on Vatican Radio and a private audience with Pope Paul VI who was given the recording of the Misa Criolla.
As manager of the Sociedad Argentina de Autores y Compositores (SADAIC) Ramírez has occupied numerous national and international positions. In 1988 he received the honor of being the first Latino elected to chair the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC). He was president of SADAIC five times. He currently occupies the position of Chairman of the Advisory Board.