Astor Piazzolla

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About Astor Piazzolla

Astor Piazzolla, born in 1921 in Mar del Plata, Argentina, and raised in New York City, made his name as his native country's “King of Tango," revolutionizing the Latin American dance in the mid-1950s by fusing elements of it with jazz and classical music to create a distinctive new style. He was a master of the bandoneón, a square-built button accordion, displaying its virtuosic capabilities in vibrant works such as his neoclassical 1979 concerto and his wistful 1988 recording of Tres Tangos. The melancholic yearning, romance, and pulsing melodrama of Piazzolla’s music would have been familiar to audiences in Argentina, where tango is a way of life. His experimentation with the dance’s rhythms and harmonies, however, were new and widely criticized. It's said his band was once doused in gasoline and nearly set on fire—no wonder he called this nuevo tango “danger music." His knowledge of classical techniques and his feel for fusion were nurtured by two great classical thinkers: composer Alberto Ginastera and later Nadia Boulanger. Formed in 1960, Piazzolla's Quinteto Nuevo Tango—featuring violin, electric guitar, piano, double bass, and bandoneón—was the ensemble that established his soundworld. Piazzolla suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 1990 and died two years later.

Mar Del Plata, Argentina
March 11, 1921

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