Artist picture of Astor Piazzolla

Astor Piazzolla

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Meditango Astor Piazzolla 05:40
Libertango Astor Piazzolla 02:45
Libertango Astor Piazzolla 02:43
Oblivion Astor Piazzolla 03:34
Verano Porteno Astor Piazzolla quintet 06:30
Prologue Astor Piazzolla 01:50
Piazzolla: Oblivion Daniel Binelli, Louise Pellerin, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Charles Dutoit 04:40
Milonga for Three Astor Piazzolla 05:59
Finale Astor Piazzolla 03:34
Café 1930 Astor Piazzolla 06:47

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A master of the bandonean - a South American concertina - Argentinian Astor Piazzolla is credited with revolutionising and modernising traditional tango by blending it with jazz and classical music. As the architect of a series of groundbreaking ensembles, his vast catalogue of innovative compositions and arrangements effectively formed the basis of the re-birth of tango, which was accorded the name 'nuevo tango'.

Born in Mar del Plata, Argentina in 1921, he was the son of Italian immigrants and grew up listening to his father's record collection, which included jazz, classical and vintage tango orchestras. The family moved to America and lived in a rough neighbourhood of Greenwich Village, New York where he learned to play the bandonean after his father spotted one in a pawn shop, leading Astor to compose his first tango 'La Catinga' when he was just eleven. He went on to study piano under Hungarian classical pianist Bela Wilda and was later mentored by one of the great legends of tango music Carlos Gardel, who invited him to go on tour with him, but his father said he was too young. It was a fateful decision as Gardel's entire orchestra perished in a plane crash soon afterwards.

Returning to Argentina, he was inspired by Elvino Vardaro to re-think the way tango could be played, joining the orchestra of Anibal Troilo, where he advanced his ideas of fusing tango with classical, jazz and other styles. In 1944 he left the Troilo orchestra to advance his own ideas and formed Orquesta Tipica, with which he developed the tango form and created the opportunity for him to compose scores for films directed by Carlos Torres Ríos.

After a period when he gave up playing bandonean, he found fresh inspiration from jazz saxophonist Gerry Mulligan's octet. He subsequently developed a new way of playing bandonean standing up and formed the stringed Orquesta de Cuerdas and the Octeto Buenos Aires, introducing electric guitar with cello and violins in a more free-form approach and in 1963 formed the infuential Nuevo Octeto. The 'El Tango' album featuring singer Edmundo Rivera was a major high in his career. However, the chamber music line-up of Conjunto 9 in the early 1970s perhaps inspired some of his greatest compositions with yet another new slant on tango. He released his most famous work 'Libertango' in 1974 before going on to work with Gerry Mulligan on the album 'Summit'. He even went on to experiment with electronica and continued to tour playing symphonies and chamber music and continued to write movie themes and perform for jazz and classical audiences into the 1980s. His last band was Sexteto Nuevo Octeto and he died in 1992.