Why Piazzolla?

Above all other composers, Astor Piazzolla revolutionized tango music and brought it to the modern world stage. His inspiration and creativity in fusing tango music with elements from classical music, jazz and other genres, forged a new and unique style of music, Nuevo Tango. Please reference this playlist for some of the greatest performances by Piazzolla himself, and of his music.

Astor Piazzolla was born on March 11, 1921 in Mar Del Plata, Argentina. At the age of 17, Piazzolla joined the Orquesta Tipica of Anibal Troilo, which became one of the greatest tango orchestras of all time; there he grew into the role of arranger. During this period, Piazzolla developed an interest in composing classical music. He parted ways with Troilo and formed his own Orquesta Tipica, where he began to experiment with fusing classical music compositional elements into tango. At this time, he also began studying jazz and drifting away from tango altogether.

In 1950, Piazzolla won a grant to study composition in Paris with the legendary Nadia Boulanger. He was intent on being a Classical composer, but Ms. Boulanger saw his talent in tango composition and convinced him to use his talents in that genre. This became the crucial turning point in Piazzolla’s life and changed tango music forever. Piazzolla went on to create a style of tango unique in its accessibility, enjoyed all over the world by listeners of Classical music, jazz, tango and many other genres.

Piazzolla returned to Buenos Aires and resumed his work in tango music. Forming new groups, the most famous of which was the Quinteto Nuevo Tango, his creativity flourished. He pushed tango music to new heights, composing transformative works such as The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, Adios Nonino, Libertango, Five Tango Sensations, Oblivion and Milonga del Angel to name a few. He died in 1992.

If you’d like to learn more about Astor Piazzolla, in preparation for the festival, we highly recommend Le Grand Tango: The Life and Music of Astor Piazzolla by Maria Susana Azzi, whom we are honored to have participate in our festival as a lecturer.