ASTOR PIAZZOLLA (1921 – 1992)
He was born in the city of Mar Del Plata (Argentina) on 11 March 1921. From 1924 to 1937 he lives with his parents in New York.
In 1930 he began studying the bandoneon, he improved later under the guidance of Maestro Bela Wilda (student of Sergej Rachmaninov), adapting compositions for piano at the bandoneon. The great Carlos Gardel (the most famous interpreter of tango in the history), meets him in New York and invites him, just fourteen, to record various themes for his film "EL DIA QUE ME QUIERAS."
In 1937 he returned to Argentina, in Buenos Aires, where he began working as bandoneon player and arranger in the Orchestra of Anibal Troilo.
In 1940 he began studying with Alberto Ginastera and in 1946 he formed his first orchestra; in the same period he dedicated to concert music and composes chamber operas and symphonic orchestra.
In 1950 he left the orchestra to devote himself entirely to composition.
In 1952 he received the EMPIRE TRACTOR CO. USA award for the composition "Rapsodia Porteña".
In 1953 he won the FABIEN SEVITZKY award with the symphony "Buenos Aires" and in 1954 he received the prize MENZIONE DEI CRITICI MUSICALI DI BUENOS AIRES for the “Sinfonietta”. During this period he studied orchestral conducting with Hermann Scherchen and the French Government, the following year, he offered him a scholarship. In Paris he studied with Nadia Boulanger, who advised him to continue with popular music, saying, "Here is Piazzolla, never leave him." Upon returning from France, he forms two groups: "EL OCTETO DE BUENOS AIRES" and "LA ORQUESTA DE CUERDAS", which revolutionized the whole music of Buenos Aires attracting the most severe criticism, but this does not desist him to continue in the genre he deeply felt. He was boycotted by record companies, radio and television and for this reason he moved to New York in 1958, where he worked as arranger. After two years he returns to Buenos Aires and formed a quintet, more and more convinced that the tango is a music to listen and not to dance. He gives concerts, recorded and made several tours in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, USA, etc.
In 1963 he received the “Hirsch” prize, he composes "TRES MOVIMIENTOS SINFONICOS" which Paul Klecki conducts in the same year.
In 1967 Piazzolla wrote with the poet Horacio Ferrer the little opera "MARIA DE BUENOS AIRES". Later he composed "TANGAZO" on the request of Maestro Pedro Ignacio Caldenòn, Director of "Ensemble Musical de Buenos Aires" which will represent him during the tour in the United States; "TANGO SEIS" for Melos Ensemble and in "MILONGA EN RE" for the violinist Salvatore Accardo. Continuing to work with Ferrer, for Piazzolla begins a new experience: the tango-song.
In 1969 the theme "BALADA PARA UN LOCO" becomes the most successful of the year in several South American countries, breaking all sales records in Argentina. This kind, apparently more commercial, gives him the chance to get closer to the general public. At his concerts, previously reserved for a limited number of interlocutors, now a stream public increasingly large which finally recognizes in Piazzolla the most authentic expression of music from Buenos Aires.
In 1970 he returned to Paris and lives in the Citè des Arts (Mozarteum) for five months, during which he composes, always with Ferrer, an oratory: "EL PUEBLO JOVEN" whose first performance is at Saarbrücken.
In September 1971 he formed his CONJUNTO NUEVE, and is now the "Municipalidad de la ciudad de Buenos Aires" that offers an engagement for two years to give concerts throughout Argentina and all' foreign. He get his greatest triumphs in Caracas, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Santiago de Chile.
In April of 1972, after having him as guest at the International ONDA NUEVA of Caracas, Maestro Aldo Pagani, who later became his publisher and producer, took the opportunity to present Piazzolla and his "NONETO" to the Italian public, organizing two concerts at the Istituto Italo-Latino-Americano in Rome and made him record for RAI the transmission "TEATRO 10" presented by Alberto Lupo. Permanent guest of this transmission, the singer MINA that entranced by the music of Piazzolla absolutely wanted to record with him the song "BALADA PARA MI MUERTE".
For the first time on 17th August 1972 he held a concert in the famous TEATRO COLON in Buenos Aires and the preparations of the same force him to reject the offer made to him by the director Bertolucci to write the music for the film "ULTIMO TANGO A PARIGI". He dedicated however to this film the song "JEANNE Y PAUL". Still in August he presents at the Teatro Coliseo the premiere of it’s "CONCIERTO DE NACAR" for nine soloists and for the “Ensemble Musical de Buenos Aires”. In recent years, he preferred to perform in concerts as soloist accompanied by symphony orchestras performing of course his compositions, not disdaining even to do some concert with his quintet (the most loved formation). He has recorded with Lalo Schifrin and with the St. Luke Orchestra "ACONCAGUA" (Concierto para Bandoneon y Orquesta) and "TRES TANGOS". But with the Caracas Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Aldemaro Romero, the "SUITE PUNTA DEL ESTE", with the Kronos Quartet he has recorded the suite entitled "FIVE TANGO SENSATIONS", which remained in the top classical album for more than a year in the USA. Astor Piazzolla is one of the few who has recorded all his works (over 600) of approximately fifty LPs.
Also the cinema has not been immune to the charms of his music and examples are the soundtracks of the films "ENRICO IV" by Marco Bellocchio, "CADAVERI ECCELLENTI" by F. Rosi, "EL EXILIO DE GARDEL" and "SUR" by Fernando Solanas, "TWELVE MONKEYS" by Terry Gillian; he collaborated on films of Jean Moreau, Alain Delon, Trintignan, etc. and has composed music for theater and ballets. The director Gabriele Salvatores presented at the exhibition of the Venice Film Festival in 2000, the movie “Teeth” whose soundtrack features the song "El Penultimo".
He dies in Buenos Aires on July 4, 1992. The jury of the Critics Prize Italian record in 1974 awarded in unanimity to Astor Piazzolla the first prize for the best album of instrumental music, with the following motivation: "For the validity of the compositions and amazing inventiveness of the arrangements that give to tango a whole new dimension".
In 1993 in Los Angeles, the song "Oblivion" gets a nomination at the GRAMMY AWARD in the category "Best Instrumental Composition": this song is considered by many critics of international fame, one of the most beautiful compositions ever written by Piazzolla, besides of being one of the most recorded.
In 1998, in Hollywood the work "LIBERTANGO" wins the Grammy Award for the Best Instrumental Composition of the year.