Posts Tagged ‘Tango Prelude’

An extraordinary artist…Astor Piazzolla

On March 11th, 1921 was born one of the biggest composers and musicians of the last century, Astor Piazzola.

Born in Mar del Plata, Argentina to Italian parents, Vicente Nonino Piazzolla and Asunta Manetti, he spent most of his childhood with his family in New York City, where he was exposed to both jazz and the music of J. S. Bach at an early age.

He began to play the bandoneon after his father, nostalgic for his homeland, spotted one in a New York pawn shop. At the age of 13, he met Carlos Gardel, another great figure of tango, who invited the young prodigy to join him on his current tour. Much to his dismay, Piazzolla’s father deemed that he was not old enough to go along. While he did play a young paper boy in Gardel’s movie El día que me quieras, this early disappointment of being kept from the tour proved to be a blessing in disguise, as it was on this tour that Gardel and his entire band perished in a plane crash. In later years, Piazzolla made light of this near miss, joking that had his father not been so careful, he wouldn’t be playing the bandoneon—he’d be playing the harp.

He returned to Argentina in 1937, where strictly traditional tango still reigned, and played in night clubs with a series of groups including the orchestra of Anibal Troilo, then considered the top bandoneon player and bandleader in Buenos Aires.
The pianist Arthur Rubinstein, then living in Buenos Aires, advised him to study with the Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera.
Delving into scores of Stravinsky, Bartók, Ravel, and others, he rose early each morning to hear the Teatro Colón orchestra rehearse while continuing a gruelling performing schedule in the tango clubs at night. In 1950 he composed the soundtrack to the film Bólidos de acero.

At Ginastera’s urging, in 1953 Piazzolla entered his Buenos Aires Symphony in a composition contest, and won a grant from the French government to study in Paris with the legendary French composition teacher Nadia Boulanger.

In 1954 he and his first wife, the artist Dedé Wolff, left Buenos Aires and travelled to Paris. Piazzolla returned from New York to Argentina in 1955, formed the Octeto Buenos Aires with Enrico Mario Francini and Hugo Baralis on violins, Atilio Stampone on piano, Leopoldo Federico as second bandoneon, Horacio Malvicino on electric guitar, José Bragato on cello and Juan Vasallo on double bass to play tangos, and never looked back.
Upon introducing his new approach to the tango (nuevo tango), he became a controversial figure among Argentines both musically and politically. The Argentine saying “in Argentina everything may change — except the tango” suggests some of the resistance he found in his native land. However, his music gained acceptance in Europe and North America, and his reworking of the tango was embraced by some liberal segments of Argentine society, who were pushing for political changes in parallel to his musical revolution.
During the period of Argentine military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983, Piazzolla lived in Italy, but returned many times to Argentina, recorded there, and on at least one occasion had lunch with the dictator Jorge Rafael Videla. In 1990 he suffered thrombosis in Paris, and died two years later in Buenos Aires.

You can listen to this extraordinary composer and musician, into the concert:

Enrico Dindo & Monica Cattarossi plays Astor Piazzola
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You can also listen to Astor Piazzolla’s Tango Prelude pour piano performed by the renowned japanese pianist Aki Kuroda, into the concert:

Aki Kuroda in concert
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