The maestro
The maestro

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The Maestro… If you wanted to reflect the pure concept of passion in music, that would be Astor Piazzolla's music. Born in Mar del Plata, on March 11th. 1921, he was living in the Bronx in New York, when at the age of 15, Carlos Gardel asked him to play the bandoneon in the film "El día que me quieras" ("The day you love me"). Gardel was so impressed by his performance that he offered Piazzolla to go with him on a tour around South America. He rejected the offer, and went back to Buenos Aires. It might have been destiny… who knows?… but the fact was that during that tour, the aircraft accident in which Gardel lost his life took place.

Back in Argentina, Piazzolla played with Anibal Troilo's band until 1944, when he created his own band and started to study classical music. In 1954, he got a grant to study with Nadia Boulanger. Astor was ashamed of his beginning in cabarets as a tango player. But one day, Nadia Boulanger asked him about his early stage and Piazzolla performed one of his tangos for her. "This is Piazzolla", his mentor said, "You never give it up!" These words really sank in and Piazzolla started to overlap his tango background with classical jazz influences and from that mixture the real Piazzolla emerged.

On his return to Buenos Aires, Piazzolla revolutionized the world of Tango, endowing it with new contents and taking it away from the lack of ideas it had fallen into. After trying different combinations, he formed the Quinteto Tango Nuevo (New Tango Quintet) in 1960. In that period, he composed pieces as splendid as "Adios Nonino" (in the memory of his father), and introduced contemporary and improvised jazz elements which were suspiciously observed by classical tango supporters, when not completely scorn. But Piazzolla managed to create a new music style which kept the romanticism, the passion and the violence of traditional tango.

Moreover, he brought renewed and deep airs to it. Astor also, managed to spread this music out of Buenos Aires and it came to be listened to in auditoriums all over the world. In short, he brought the tango back to be restored as a popular genre, just as it used to be in its beginning.

With his Quinteto Tango Nuevo, Piazzolla reached a special moment of creative capacity and intensity, as can be seen in his studio recordings such as "Nuevo Tango: Hora Cero" and "La Camorra: la soledad de la provocación apasionada". In fact, Astor considered the former as his best recording. At the end of the 80's, Astor Piazzolla was already a wellknown musician all over the world. In 1989, he formed the Sexteto Tango Nuevo with two bandoneons, and carried on composing and performing concerts, although many of his compositions were never recorded in a studio.

In August 1990, Piazzolla's health began to deteriorate, until he finally passed away two years later, on the 4th of July of 1992. He was 71. During his lifetime he left many memorable pieces behind such as "Concierto para Quinteto", "Adiós Nonino", "Libertango", la serie "Las cuatro estaciones porteñas", "Tristezas de un Doble A", "Soledad", "Muerte del Angel", "Tanguedia", "Violentango", "Tango apasionado" or the serie of pieces "Five Tango Sensations", recorded with the Kronos Quartet.

Over thirty records (several of them, reeditions) gather the particular life vision of this universal argentinian, a vision laden with sadness and melancholy, violence and sex, fear and courage, like the sound of a bandoneon itself.

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