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Astor Piazzolla, the Tanguero Elf who made the air dance

On the centenary of the notable bandoneonist and composer, Piazzolla's art is our cultural ambassador to the world “Libertango”, “Goodbye Nonino”, “Ballad for a madman”, “Oblivion” and so many convoluted feelings that talk about you and me.

Ástor Piazzolla

  “I have to tell the absolute truth. I can tell a story about angels, but it wouldn't be the real story. Mine is devils mixed with angels and a little pettiness. You have to have something of everything to move on in life”,     Astor Piazzolla confessed in 1990,   a few weeks before the tragic coda. When life seemed to smile at him, at last, they didn't yell at him “Tango killer,” and the musicians of the world performed his music,   one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, Piazzolla represented the entire Argentine cultural genealogy. From Gardel to Ginastera, from Borges to Ferrer,   Piazzolla is Argentina   in any scenario in the galaxy   .   With Astor there is no confusion of identity and his music is synonymous with bandoneón, tango, lunfardo, the Buenos Aires world and everything typical national.   Controversial, challenging, innovative, even in his marches and counter-marches, the masterful bandoneonist was always clear that his heart looked at the South, “I'm sick of everyone saying that my thing is not tango. I - as I'm tired - tell them that well, that my thing if you want is music from Buenos Aires. But the music of Buenos Aires, what is it called? : tango. So,   what is mine tango   “In 1960, on the ridge of his Nuevo Tango, the equivalent in Rio de la Plata to the musical revolution of a Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix or Caetano Veloso.   For more than half a century all Buenos Aires music has been in Piazzolla.  

Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla was born in Mar del Plata on March 11, 1921, son of Italian immigrants Vicente y Asunta, Nonino and Nonina for eternity.   “I've been in New York deep inside of me. I'm sure he gave me courage. Thanks to her I learned to get hard in life, to take care of myself”, admitted in 1987 Piazzolla   in a triumphant return to the American city that taught him the first bandoneon chords, “he was terribly bad,” he would remember, and to defend himself with nails and teeth. Rather to the blows between bands,   gangs   , and violent jocks from 9th Street, including a future heavyweight champion, Rocky Graziano — over the years, Astor would be a fan of the Sylvester Stallone saga.

Astor Piazzolla


A brief return to Mar del Plata, and again in the Big Apple, where in 1932 he was presented as “the children's wonder of bandoneon” at the “Noche Argentina”.   The other national wonder was coming from Paris and it was called   Carlos Gardel.   His former professor Terig Tucci directed the orchestra of the new productions of Zorzal Criollo, in its phase of international conquest, and Astor self-proclaims the mascot of the musician's group, accompanying him to buy shirts, or playing in the rehearsals (the duo Gardel-Piazzolla, mamita)   “The role of reo is right for a prisoner like you,” Gardel said in the role of Piazzolla, a canillita in “El día que me quieres”, the first collaboration with the musician's cinema that spread with the forty bands of sounds he composed up to “El exile de Gardel” (sic).



Despite the insistences of the Mudo, who wanted to take him on tour despite the fact that “you play the bellows well, but you look like a Galician”, the absolute ear of Morocho del Abasto who perceived baroque classism mixed with Gershwin in Piazzolla, Nonino opposed, “he is barely fourteen years old... luckily, instead of playing the bandoneon I would be playing the harp,” said laughing Astor. Piazzolla would have been another passenger, next to Gardel, on the plane that crashed in Medellín on June 24, 1935.

In 1937 the Piazzolla returned to Mar del Plata and Astor resumes his piano studies and harmony with Néstor Romano. He went through some tango orchestras, “imitation of the style of -Elvino- Vardaro”, the eximio violinist who would later be part of his Quintet that would kick the board. Finally Miguel Caló invites ambitious teenager Piazzolla to Buenos Aires. Walking through the unknown city aimlessly, along Corrientes Avenue, stops at Café Germinal by the melody of “Comme il faut” by Eduardo Arolas. It was the Aníbal Troilo Orchestra about to enter the golden decade of the forties”   Troilo was performing at the Germinal. Every holy day, from the time they opened the coffee until closing time, a boy about 18 years old   ... followed Pichuco and his musicians with enbeleseso. Being there so long he ended up getting attention. One of the violinists, Hugo Baralis, approached him and started conversation, promptly born a friendship,” says Horacio Ferrer, “The young man performed as a musician, bandoneonist, with long years of stay in the US and a musical passion to death. He said his name was Astor Piazzolla.   One day, unexpectedly, at the moment of the beginning the bandoneonist Juan Manuel Rodríguez was missing: a disaster. Baralis, then proposed to Troilo to include the static boy at the table... lost as lost and with the greatest distrust in the world, Pichuco accepted. And there went Astor to sit next to his idol. Score? It wasn't necessary, he knew it by heart. He started the set and when he reached the variation the young man does not think better than to do it with his left hand. From the piano, Orlando Goñi, looked at him with his eyes at the plate. At the end, Troilo decreed the increase to four of the three bandoneons and Piazzolla was incorporated in the act”,   closes the birth of a friendship, Gordo Troilo and Cat Piazzolla, the nickname of Pichuco for Astor. A friendship out of question, alien to circumstantial sizzling, that started the same night that Vicente, Nonino, flew on his motorcycle to Buenos Aires to ask Pichuco to take care of his son, and Astor passed the data of a   escolaso   (in lunfardo, card game for money)     unmissable, in Avellaneda “You are the devil, Cat,” said the Fat, returning without a weight.


  Gobbi x Troilo x Ginastera x Bach = Piazzolla  

  “Stop Astor because he's turning me the orchestra is a symphony orchestra,”   Pichuco recited Dedé, the wife of Piazzolla since 1942, mother of Diana and Daniel. Who stopped Piazzolla's machine that passed from the cabaret boys to talks with the musicians of Teatro Colón and Alberto Ginastera's classes? Arranger different from the rest of the bands of the forties, “Piazzolla made us all study”, would later say Osvaldo Pugliese, the counterpoints and atonal variations, close to Bach and Stravinsky, did not commune with the follow, follow the dance. Nor is his interest in innovative tangueros, followers of Julio de Caro, such as violinist Alfredo Gobbi, from whom he would resume the   rubato   and the syncopa.   Unlinked from Troilo in 1944 he conducts Francisco Florentino's orchestra and is dedicated to instrumenting conductors close to his feelings, Caló, José Basso and Francini-Pontier. These are the days when the “bellows are polilliated in the closet” and composes several orchestral pieces   , including “Sinfonía de Buenos Aires”, which won an award from State Radio and runs with scandal at the Faculty of Law UBA because it included a bandoneon section. With that momentum he traveled to Paris in 1954 with a scholarship from the French government, which he refuses to study with   Nadia Boulanger, the teacher of masters of the 20th century. After listening to her tango “Triunfal”, the pianist and director said that she didn't find Piazzolla in classical music but in the bandoneon “made me see, that in the background, I was tanguero... and what I had against tango turned in favor”   On his return to Buenos Aires he brought together the Octeto Buenos Aires, a revolution in citizen music, “Nuevo Tango is developed from traditionally sung tango, which was played as music to dance,” said Piazzolla didactic in a handheld program in 1985, in New York, and rescued by David Butler Cannata-   Originated in Buenos Aires in 1955, Nuevo Tango owes its evolution to the new rhythms, melodies, harmonies and dynamics of modern times. While traditional tango musicians began to get bored with playing the same tangos, I enjoyed playing and composing new pieces — “Progressive Tango” (1956) and “Lo que viente” (1957)   are two albums containing jazzera improvisations in the style of Gerry Mulligan, which long later would record with Astor, “Meeting summit”, and electric guitar solos, both repudiated by the tango atmosphere since the Octet's debut at the UBA Law Faculty - various critics and music sicos tried to destroy the Nuevo Tango, but they didn't make it. Certain ambitious musicians tried to follow my musical path, but they didn't have the fundamentality: practice and talent. The young generation of Argentines needed a change. The change came in 1955, when the Octet Buenos Aires was first presented, and continued with   Quintet Buenos Aires - or Quintet Nuevo Tango, formed after the failed return in 1958 to New York in search of tango jaz -, which was founded in 1960 and still exists,” the composer ended with the group that would give the first piazzollian classics, in perhaps its most prolific decade, long because it extended until 1973. With “Adiós Nonino” at the head and many of the best known emblems of his repertoire, “Las Estaciones Porteñas”, the Angel Series, the Diablo Series, “Revirado”, “Fracanapa”, “Buenos Aires Hora Zero”, “Decarísimo”, “Fugata&RDQUO ;, and Tango, the album with lyrics by Jorge Luis Borges   . Vardaro, Antonio Agri, Horacio Malvicino, Oscar López Ruiz, Kicho Díaz, “the day that Kicho is not, I'm finished” repeated Piazzolla, who composed “Contrabajissimo”, Osvaldo Manzi and Cacho Tirao were the first line musicians who would accompany Piazzolla in the turbulent nights of separation of Dedé, thousands of loves, and glare for the   medium   of the talented creative tandem he had formed with the Uruguayan poet Horacio Ferrer - they were known since the fifties and in 1961 they premiered their first joint composition, “El tango dthe dawn”   It was Amelita Baltar's time in the eye of Hurricane Piazzolla.  

The personal and creative union with La Baltar, a successful folklore singer, half the age of Piazzolla, and with a contemporary style of singing, sensuality and charisma, lasted seven years.   From the operita “María de Buenos Aires” in 1968, a cantata with magic and depth to give aura and mystery to an eternal city, to the farewell to “Piazzolla y Amelita Baltar” in 1974, in the middle “La bicicicleta blanca” and “Libertango”, the creative explosion of the composer's carving cl classical and classical, “Ballad for a madman”, “Ballad for my death”, “Chiquilín de Bachín”, “The last Grela”,   and many more from his songbook, which expanded from tango to jazz and chamber music (there “Chinese Wall” or “Pulsation”, works away from the typical tango sound), and infecting new generations of rock, folklore and the arts in general with flashes.   Rite of Tango that is reborn, carnival with a tear in the eyelet, and heretic as Maria who returns in Niña María, Piazzolla renamed Buenos Aires with the same modern spirit of the Instituto Di Tella and the first album by Almendra.  



  What will come  

  The prolonged stay in Italy, after a heart attack in 1973, would be a radical turn of his music, barely concealed by the Magna Suite Troilana, composed in 1975 by the death of his beloved Pichuco.   After his work with Mulligan, the Electronic Octet, where his son Daniel participates in synthesizers, means the composer's definitive entry into the grounds of progressive jazz, with many rock touches, as heard in the live record at the Olympia in Paris in 1977 —   in fact several musicians came or went to rock, guitarist Tomás Gubitsch would form Invisible by Luis Alberto Spinetta   . Dissatisfied with the result, although Daniel Piazzolla secured exclusively for   that the only cassette in his last car was the recording of the 77 recital, Piazzolla would ask for a “little sound peace”, in the words of his new partner, Laura Escalada. They are the good winds of harvest for Piazzolla in command of a new version of the Quintet with Malvicino, Fernando Suárez Paz, Héctor Console and Pablo Ziegler, musicians who gave a pinch of   cool jazzy   to the tango sound of the previous Quintet “Biyuya” and, especially,”   Tangazo” and “Three tangos for bandoneón and orchestra” are high moments of Piazzolla's renewed interest in symphonic music.  

The eighties resulted in global recognition, recordings with Milva, Gary Burton, Kronos Quartet and recitals in his longed Central Park -Piazzolla never ceased to succeed in the streets of his childhood, and increasingly spaced visits to Buenos Aires, nuanced by his remembered performance in the Teatro Colón in 1983, or the countless theaters applauded by a new generation of rockers, including Fito Páez, who would collaborate with a song on the sound band of”   Sur” by Pino Solanas, mostly by Piazzolla -the cinema would give another of its classics, “Oblivion” in the film “Henry IV” by Italian Marco Bellocchio   .   With a routine of more than a hundred recitals in 1986, and the brilliant performance at the Montreux Jazzy Festival, a new heart problem in 1988 delays hundreds of quintet orders from Tokyo to Toronto.     His daughter Diana found him “depressed, sad, sad,” says Maria Susana Azzi, after undergoing a quadruple bypass , maybe because he knew he was never going to return to his favorite sport, shark fishing   .

In 1989 he set up a Sextet with two bandoneons with the idea of lightening his physical effort, Piazzolla who by running the bandoneon standing projected an animal force - and gave an unknown sound to the instrument. One of the bandoneonists, Daniel Binelli, wanted to rescue the avant-garde arrangements of the two old albums “Tango Tradicional”, ranging from the classic “El choclo” to “Taconeando”, perhaps as never heard, “Maestro, all those beautiful arrangements of traditional tangos? why don't you give them to me? I'd like to touch them,” And Astor responds, “No, Binelli, grab the pencil and worry. I broke them” “My music may like it or not, but nobody will deny its elaboration,” he told Natalio Gorin in March 1990, in a pause of the frantic piano tours by Gerardo Gandini, again close Piazzolla to concert music, and plans to write a & oacute; pear on Gardel, “-my music- is well orchestrated, it is novel, from this century, and has a smell of tango”   On July 3, 1990 he played in a theater near the millennial Acropolis of Athens and closed with a moving version of “Goodbye Nonino” It was the last concert.   On the morning of August 5 in Paris he had a stroke and, after a long agony, he died in Buenos Aires on July 4, 1992.

“'Goodbye Nonino' is the best topic I wrote in my life,” says Piazzolla in “A way of memoirs” on the subject he composed in homage to his father in 1959, “I set out a thousand times to make a higher one and I couldn't. It has an intimate tone, looks almost funeral and yet broke with everything. The day we released it, with the Quintet, the musicians and I said that this won't happen a damn thing, nobody's gonna like it, but let's play it, it's nice. It was a time when almost all the themes of the repertoire had the polenta of “Cramp”, “The Possessed”, “What will come” And “Goodbye Nonino” ended the other way around, how life was going, went out. People liked it at the entrance. I would say because it has a special mystery, the melody, and in contrast to the melody the rhythmic part, the change of tone and that glorious ending with a sad outcome.   Maybe I like that, because   was different from everything   ”. Like Astor Piazzolla.  



Sources: Azzi, M.   Astor Piazzolla   . Buenos Aires: The Athenaeum. 2018; Garcia Brunelli, O. (comp)   Studies on the work of Ástor Piazzolla   . Buenos Aires: Gourmet Musical. 2014; Gorin, N.   Astor Piazzolla. In the form of memories   . Buenos Aires: Atlantida. 1990; Piazzolla, D.   Astor.   Buenos Aires: Emece. 1987; Lopez Ruiz, O.   Oh, Piazzolla. Crazy, crazy, crazy. 25 years of work and jodas living together with a genius   . Buenos Aires: La Urraca editions. 1994

Publication Date: 11/03/2021

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piazzolla1 The 5 best tangos in Piazzolla - TripAdvisor
Astor Piazzolla A tribute to Astor Piazzolla at the Usina del Arte



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By: El Xeneize 15 March, 2021

Durante mucho tiempo fue un bicho raro por ser un adelantado en su época... Hoy un genio indiscutido. Crack Astor.

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