Astor Piazzolla

DATES

Born in Argentina, 1921

NATIONALITY

Argentine

STYLE/PERIOD

Modern 1920-Present

FAMOUS WORKS

Libertango, Milonga Del Angel, Oblivion, AdiĆ³s Nonino


BIOGRAPHY


Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) was born in Argentina to Italian immigrant parents. He spent much of his childhood in New York City, and he learned to take care of himself on the dangerous streets while his parents worked hard to provide for him. He was exposed to classical and jazz music and enjoyed listening to his father’s tango records as a child. Piazzolla composed his first tango in 1932 and then began taking music lessons later that year. At 17 years old, he moved to Argentina and played the bandoneon, an instrument played in a similar way to the accordion and found in typical tango ensembles, in what would become one of the most famous tango orchestras in the country. He continued to arrange and play bandoneon or piano in various tango orchestras, and he studied composition and orchestration with Alberto Ginastera for five years. Piazzolla won a composition contest in 1953 in Buenos Aires which allowed him to study on a grant from the French government with famed composer Nadia Boulanger in Paris. The following year, he and his wife left their two children behind in Argentina with his parents and moved to Paris where he studied composition and counterpoint with Boulanger, a great influence on his later tango writings. He moved between New York City and Buenos Aires throughout his adult life and created various tango ensembles wherever he went which included Octeto Buenos Aires, the Jazz Tango Quintet, Nuevo Octeto, and Conjunto9. He is celebrated today for his unique style of composition, Nuevo Tango, which is a fusion of traditional tango with elements of jazz including extended harmonies and improvisation and classical music including the use of passacaglia or repeating bass lines.